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Torque, twerk or teatime?

| Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Oxford English Dictionary

Word Consideration Committee

Official Quarterly Meeting Transcript

Present: Committee Chairman Wilford Smythe-Hemsley, C. Edward Tuttleston, Hugh Crump IV, Danny Higgins and the Earl of Swinesforth.

Smythe-Hemsley: Cheerio, everyone. I hereby call this meeting to order. First order of business: Potential addition of words for our online edition. You know the rules — any nominee must be a term that recently has been absorbed by popular culture. Any of you gents care to submit a nomination?

Crump IV: What about “twerk”?

Tuttleston: Isn't that already a word meaning “a twisting force that tends to cause rotation”?

Higgins: Believe you're thinking of “torque,” guvnor.

Crump IV: Righto, Higgins. “Twerk” is a word that's the King's regal ring in America at the moment. Everyone's all abuzz because former Disney child star Miley Cyrus twerked during a performance at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday.

Tuttleston: That show was past my bedtime. Fill me in. What exactly did she do?

Crump IV: While onstage with another singer, Robin Thicke, Cyrus danced in a manner that strongly suggested she was committed to the idea of carrying Thicke's child.

Tuttleston: If I understand you correctly, then, she was dancing with a twisting force that tends to cause rotation. She was dancing with torque. She was torquing, not twerking.

Crump IV: They call it twerking in America, Tuttleston.

Earl of Swinesforth: I say, is it teatime yet?

Higgins: 'Fraid not, guvnor.

Smythe-Hemsley: If we do add “twerk,” to our online offerings, how do we define it?

Crump IV: I've come up with something that accurately conveys what Cyrus did and might go over well in the States. I'd like to define twerk as “when a hussy gets publicly funk-a-licious.”

(Long pause)

Smythe-Hemsley: No.

Tuttleston: Could we perhaps come up with a slightly more dignified definition?

Smythe-Hemsley: Perhaps we could define twerk as “dancing to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.”

Tuttleston: Ewww. No toast for me at teatime.

Crump IV: I'm fine with that definition, but I'm not sure it will catch on in America. It has no buzzword like “funk-a-licious.”

Tuttleston: I say, old chaps, aren't we trivializing words by adding to the dictionary every flavor-of-the-month slang term that comes along? Aren't we slowly but surely degrading the standards of the language that a dictionary should uphold?

(Long pause)

Higgins: Possibly. But you gotta stay contemporary, guvnor.

Crump IV: I make motion we add “twerk” to the Oxford online dictionary using Mr. Smythe-Hemsley's detailed definition.

Higgins: Second.

Smythe-Hemsley: All those in favor?

All: Aye (several reluctant sighs in the background).

Smythe-Hemsley: Next nomination?

Crump IV: What about that informal and laziest of text-messaging shorthand, “srsly.”

Tuttleston: “Srsly.” Seriously?

Earl of Swinesforth: I say, is it teatime yet?

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or eheyl@tribweb.com.

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