Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The language of the modern workplace

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary just released its list of new words for 2012. Three caught my eye.

cloud computing: the practice of storing regularly used computer data on multiple servers that can be accessed through the Internet

sexting: the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone

f-bomb:  the word fuck —used metaphorically as a euphemism

According to the publisher, Merriam-Webster adopts new words based on usage:

To decide which words to include in the dictionary and to determine what they mean, Merriam-Webster editors study the language as it's used. They carefully monitor which words people use most often and how they use them….

To be included in a Merriam-Webster dictionary, a word must be used in a substantial number of citations that come from a wide range of publications over a considerable period of time. Specifically, the word must have enough citations to allow accurate judgments about its establishment, currency, and meaning.

Because these words have crept into the American lexicon, they should be accounted for in your workplace policies. Technology policies should cover information stored in and accessed from the cloud. Harassment policies and training should teach employees about the dangers of texting and other co-worker communications via mobile phones, email, and social media. And, if you get into a hot legal mess because you omitted these ideas from your policies, drop a few f-bombs (then call your lawyer).