It’s official. ‘Twerk’ is one of the new words to be added to the latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary – one of the world’s most revered reference works.
Those among us who live fairly sheltered lives might wonder what it means. Could it be what a Yorkshireman says to his partner on leaving home in the morning?
“I’m going twerk, see you at teatime”.
Anyway, in the interests of research, Wordsworks decided to look at where this newcomer came from. Which led us to YouTube, and videos of, who else, Miley Cyrus.
It was Miley who brought the ‘twerk’ to global prominence at the MTV VMA’s in 2013.
Moving quickly – and probably wisely – on, we delved a little more deeply into the etymology of the word.
Surprise, surprise. Apparently its origins go as far back as the early 19th century, and it is believed to have been a blend of ‘twist’ and ‘jerk.’ So it’s a portmanteau word like ‘brunch, only more exciting.
Coming back to today, should we welcome new words being added to our language? Our answer would be a cautious ‘yes’, depending where and when you decide to use them.
New coinages are important because they often fill a gap in the national vocabulary, giving us a single word for something that would otherwise require several. Or, to describe a completely new cultural phenomenon.
But there is nothing worse than using these words to show that we are, dare we say it, cool. And by the time they have made it to the mainstream of language they are out of fashion with the people who first used them.