The closest people we have to actual grammar police, the American Copy Editors Society, recently held their annual word nerd conference to discuss and update our language for modern times.
The big news? ‘They’ officially replaced ‘he’ as the default pronoun for a person of an unknown gender.
Wait, so who makes the rules on English?
Good question, diligent student. There are a few ways English conventions can be changed.
The annual meeting of ACES (sweet acronym, guys) is one of them. It’s where rule updates to the AP Stylebook are often announced, like dropping the hyphen in “email,” and lowercasing “internet.”
Merriam-Webster is another authority adding words to keep up with the youths. They recently added words such as “photobomb,” “humblebrag,” and “ghosting.”
Ghost (verb): to disappear off all social communications, only to emerge via text weeks later with a “sorry work’s been crazy…” disclaimer.
But it’s not them doing the changing, it’s us
Merriam Webster says that, of the criteria needed to add a new word, frequency of use is most important. In other words, if you keep up those urban dictionary annotations, they might one day become official (totally rad).
But reader beware, you could be playing with fire (not rad).
After we literally wouldn’t stop misusing the word, Merriam Webster added a second definition to match the exaggerated meaning.
The internet was understandably outraged. Users commented “the dictionary is literally wrong”, and “this is literally the stupidest thing I’ve ever read.”