The boffins at Oxford English Dictionary, the self-proclaimed protectors of the English language, have recently announced 1,000 new words for its publication, with ROFL making its debut.

For the uninitiated this means ‘Rolling On the Floor Laughing’ and is an evolution of the term ‘LOL’, which to the dismay of many, was a new entry in 2011. The recent introduction of ROFL was joined by the humorous colloquialism ‘budgie smugglers’ and posh camping term ‘glamping’, with almost 2,000 other entries revised to reflect cultural change.

At The Tonic, we pride ourselves on our impeccable grammar and unrivalled grasp of the English language, so here’s a mini retrospective charting a transition from the scribes of Shakespeare to words such as ‘sweary’ (now a noun and an adjective says OED).

To be or not to be? ??

Back in the 1600s, one of the world’s greatest wordsmiths was born – William Shakespeare. Forget the team at OED, The Bard created so many new word and phrases that he left the people of his era dumbfounded. Think timeless idioms such as ‘raining cats and dogs’, ‘break the ice’ and ‘for goodness sake.’

Since Shakespeare, the next biggest influence on our language was digital technology. OED’s lexicographers left many aghast when it announced its Word of the Year for 2015 as the laughing emoji (confession: a Tonic favourite!). Never had a bunch of pixels been given such elevated status above an actual English phrase. It was a controversial way to show how the saturation of smartphone and social media communication had allowed graphics to usurp words.

The trend has continued with Oxford recognising terms such as ‘bae’, ‘selfie’, ‘yolo’ and ‘youtuber’, all of which have become accepted vocabulary, particularly for millennials.

Away from the huge influence of tech, feminism has also made its mark, tackling phrases around ‘mankind’ and ‘guys’, which were traditionally male-specific and are now considered gender neutral. Pronouns have been placed under the equality microscope too – with the legal industry revising use of him/her to ‘they’ and the PR sector offering up ‘spokesperson’.

Is all this flux a bad thing? We don’t think so. Language changes alongside culture and technology and as PR professionals words – and images – are indispensable tools of the trade. In fact, The Tonic launched the world’s first emoji-only chat app last year to a worldwide audience and won industry recognition. Check out our work here.

If you’re looking for writing, editing or general PR support, please get in touch with our team.

Contributor Siana Harris