OED birthday words cartoonOne of the things that makes translation such an exciting field is the ever-shifting nature of language. Words and terms change as frequently as the culture itself. Something that was a hip or clever way to express an idea yesterday suddenly sounds stilted or out-of-fashion today.

On the flip side, new words and terminology enter the language constantly, and any translator worth her salt will make it their business to keep a close eye on the latest ways to talk about current concepts, trends, and technology. For more than 150 years, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has been doing just that: recording the changing nature of English as new words enter the language and others fall by the wayside. Now the OED has launched a “birthday word generator“, a fun way of clicking through the last century to see which terms were first used when you were born.

Fun fact: the BeTranslated translation agency was founded in 2002, the year parkour was first recorded by the OED: “the discipline or activity of moving rapidly and freely over or around the obstacles presented by an (esp. urban) environment by running, jumping, climbing, etc.” (You can watch Jame Bond in a parkour-style chase here.)

What’s your OED birthday word?

[via language log]

The OED Birthday Word Generator
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