Oxford English Dictionary invites users of Mumsnet to help find new parenting words
March 2017 - This month, parents around the UK will be invited to contribute to the Oxford English Dictionary’s (OED) research into the language of parenting. Users of the parenting site Mumsnet will have the opportunity to tell the OED, on a forum launching today, about parenting terms they regularly use. Editors hope that this will help them to improve the dictionary’s coverage of the vast and shifting lexicon of pregnancy, childbirth, parenting, and childcare. Fi Mooring, Senior Editor on the OED, explained:
“Every parent knows that when you have a child you also begin to speak another language. It’s not just baby talk; there’s a whole new vocabulary to be learnt, from labour and childbirth procedures to words describing how to wean your infant. Many of these terms – which quickly become the stuff of everyday communication for millions of parents – are relatively recent coinages, so weren’t included in earlier editions of the Oxford English Dictionary.”
Mumsnet members will have free online access to the OED throughout March. The dictionary editors will consider any pregnancy, childbirth, parenting, or childcare term that users think is important and which is not yet in the OED. Fi Mooring went on to say:
“In order to capture the influence of parenthood on the English language, we want to consult the people we consider to be the experts—parents themselves—and we hope that Mumsnet’s users will share with us the many and varied phrases they use.”
As with all candidates for inclusion in the dictionary, suggestions by Mumsnet users will go through an assessment process to review how long, how frequently, and how widely a word has been used. The OED is being thoroughly revised with quarterly updates published online, and editors sometimes focus on vocabulary within a particular subject area, in order to identify any gaps or developments. Given the importance of Mumsnet in providing a space for discussions about parenting, the OED’s research may well show that the site itself has been pivotal in promoting or establishing usage of some words.
The first added words on the theme of pregnancy, childbirth, parenting, and childcare will be published online in December 2017.
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