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Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2015: an emoticon (and in Italy ‘supercazzola’)

Someone complains on the 2015 Word of the Year according to the Oxford Dictionaries. Perhaps because 2015 Word of the Year is not a normal word but an emoticon:

“officially called the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji” (⇐

That one we are living is a particular time. And linguists must take into consideration the different ways human beings communicate in. Or not? Is human language already reduced to that one of social network?

As for Italy, the vocabulary in 2016 welcomes ‘supercazzola’, the catchphrase born forty years ago in the film ‘My Friends‘, by Mario Monicelli, defined as 

“nonsense word or phrase, uttered with seriousness to impress and confuse the other party “.

Among other terms entered the language of Dante, it is to remember ‘tiki-taca’, tactical football, ‘Jihadista’, ‘telepedaggio’, ‘capocurva’, ‘complottista’, ‘pentastellato’, ‘cooking show‘, ‘reunion‘, ‘sfanalare’, ‘cogenitore’, ‘smart‘, ‘sciarpata’ (collective fluttering scarves of the supporters in the stadium), ‘poltronismo’ (attitude of those who would do anything to keep their job), ‘pentastellato’ (relative or belonging to the ‘5 Stars Movement’ ), ‘italofobia’ (attitude of strong aversion to Italy and all  Italian things), ‘conspiracy’ (those who weave plots and/or tend to imagine them), ‘recessionista’ for extradeficit.


Nepal earthquake: how to help

Main resource and referral point for helping Nepal is the Nepal Red Cross Society, that is managing first aid, search and rescue; please note the link for donation currently works on and off, given the connectivity problems;
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) ( is organizing its hubs in New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok (water, food, shelter, sanitation…);
Handicap International is specially focused in tending survivors to avoid them develop disabilities: HERE ;
the link to give Save the Children a donation is THIS ;

Aggiornamento: dall’Italia è possibile mandare un SMS o chiamare il 45596 (iniziativa Unicef  e Wfp Italia per donare 1 € da rete mobile o 2€ da rete fissa).
La piú importante risorsa e punto di riferimento per aiutare il Nepal è la Croce Rossa locale, che si sta occupando del primo soccorso, della ricerca e del salvataggio; si consideri però che il link per donare in questo momento funziona a scatti, a causa dei problemi di connessione;
La Federazione internazionale della Croce Rossa e della Mezzaluna Rossa (IFRC) ( sta organizzando le sue postazioni a New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur e Bangkok (acqua, cibo, alloggi, sanità…);
Handicap International è particolarmente incentrata sull’aiuto ai sopravvissuti, affinché non contraggano disabilità: QUI;
il link per fare una donazione a Save the Children è QUESTO;
per quanto riguarda l’UNICEF QUEST’ALTRO.

the simpsons and the language

Oxford University Press (Oxford Dictionaries), in remembering April 19 as the anniversary of the first airing of The Simpsons on American television (the first episode appeared in 1989), does some linguistics considerations on their contribution to the common speech. Three quotations are on The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations:

  • ‘D’oh’ , Homer’s main expression, which is in the official on line version of the Oxford English Dictionary (the earliest citation for doh dates from a 1945 BBC radio script for the show ‘It’s That Man Again’ and  Its inclusion in The Simpsons  seems to be due to voice actor Dan Castellaneta).

  • ‘¡Ay caramba, don’t have a cow!’ (by Bart, although it had already been used in 1980s film ‘Sixteen Candles or Scooby Doo’; used as an expression of surprise and seemingly originates from the nickname given to the 18th-century Spanish singer Maria Antonia Fernandez)(in Italy Bart says ‘Ciucciati il calzino’ and Bender, another Matt Groening’s creation, “mmm…shorts”);

  • ‘Me fail English? That’s “unpossible”!’ (by the dopey policeman’s son Ralph Wiggum; it is interesting to note that “umpossible” remount s to 1362 and it was a commonly used word between c.1400-1660) (in Italy Winchester speaks in Neapolitan dialect);

 Definitely, Simpson family made their precise mark on the English language.

how rich is English?

“English is a vacuum cleaner of other languages”

David Crystal

English is considered as the language with the biggest number of words.

It is not an easy valuation, as told by the same linguists who did it, also considering that, in Virginia Woolf’s language, verbs are not to be conjugate and Finnish has 16 cases of declination. Anyway, everything started many years ago, within an English class.

The teacher:

– My students, what’s the language in the word with the biggest number of words?

Any possible answer went down.

The teacher:

– My students! What else but that one you are studying here? English!

– WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT? You are making fun of us! In English you do everything thanks to make, get, like and something! somemone said.

– You know, English commonly spoken can seem poor of words but the complete vocabulary, also considering the words coming from the countries of the Commonwealth and from other languages, is around the 1.000.000 of words! And it is a language which increases its lexis at any time! 

The students could not believe; being Italians, perhaps, pride of a language very rich and full of nuances and meanings. But this is the opinion of the linguists of Oxford University, those ones who take care of the Oxford English dictionaries, the most trusted ones in the world…



L’inglese è considerato come la lingua con il maggior numero di parole.

Non è un computo facile, a detta degli stessi studiosi che lo hanno portato a termine, anche perché bisogna considerare che nella lingua di Virginia Woolf i verbi non si coniugano e che il finlandese ha sedici casi. In ogni modo, tutto cominciò molti anni fa, con un corso d’inglese.

Il prof:

– Studenti miei, qual è secondo voi la lingua col maggior numero di parole al mondo?

Vennero giù tutte le possibili risposte.

Il prof:

–   Studenti miei! Quale altra se non quella che state studiando qui? L’inglese!

–   CHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE? Ti stati prendendo giuoco di noi! In inglese fate tutto con make, get, like e simili! disse qualcuno.

– Sapete, l’inglese parlato comunemente può sembrare povero ma il vocabolario completo, anche in considerazione delle parole provenienti dalle Nazioni del Commonwealth e dalle altre lingue,

è attorno al milione di parole! Ed è una lingua che incrementa il suo lessico in ogni momento!

Gli studenti non potevano crederci; come italiani, forse, orgogliosi di una lingua ricchissima e piena di significati e sfumature. Ma è questa l’opinione dei linguisti della Oxford University, quelli che curano i dizionari  Oxford English, i piú accreditati al mondo…



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