Dictionary recognizes SMS as part of English language

Mobile phone users have made their mark on the latest edition of the venerable Oxford English Dictionary (OED). The term SMS (short message service) and a glossary full of abbreviations employed by SMS users have made their way into the revised edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary released on Thursday, along with a number of other high-tech terms.

More than 50 billion SMS text messages were sent over GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) -- a term also included in the new Concise Oxford Dictionary -- networks worldwide in the first quarter of 2001, according to a study released in May by the GSM Association. The OED editors felt that the influence of SMS text messaging made it worthy of treating it as an integral part of English, said Judy Pearsall, publishing manager for the OED, published by the Oxford University Press.

Its usage is frequent enough for the OED to have also included for the first time a glossary of terms commonly used in SMS text messages, Pearsall said. Along with expressions as GR8 (great), BBLR (be back later) and HAND (have a nice day), emoticons -- like the popular smiley face :) -- have made it into the dictionary.

"For right now, those sorts of terms are in the glossary for SMS, though in time some of the terms like BTW (by the way) could be added to the OED as a term in itself if its usage becomes part of the mainstream," Pearsall said.

"We have a global reading program with a hundred readers all over the world that are reading and picking up new vocabulary. When a term is getting to a stage when it's getting used very frequently, that's when we consider it for the OED," Pearsall said.

Other new additions to the Concise Oxford Dictionary include e-book, "because it only just became a sort of commercial reality," and more informal terms like rip and burn (applied to the copying of compact discs), Pearsall said. The new edition also lists for the first time ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line), MP3 and @.

In March of last year, the OED debuted online with the complete text of the OED's twenty-volume Second Edition and three-volume Additions Series accessible to paying subscribers. "The OED Online is mostly being used by academics, so we also launched a new free site today, askoxford.com, that will tell the general public about the language as well as being a place where people can also ask questions," Pearsall said.

The OED, in Oxford, England, can be found at http://www.oed.com and http://www.askoxford.com/.

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Laura Rohde

PC World

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