Tuesday, May 24, 2011

And the sore winner is...

Media Moment: Urban Dictionary
Queen-related: WATC mentioned

I feel old. Or at least when my post-secondary students start communicating in text speak or portmanteaus that I’ve never heard of before. So to get educated, I signed up for the word of the day from Urban Dictionary and feel much more enlightened about the current generation’s interpretation of the English language.

I get a new slang phrase or counterculture term sent to my email every morning. More times than not, there is some kind of sexual overtone to it — which may explain where Saturday Night Live gets many of their jokes these days — but today’s phrase (“sore winner”) caught my eye for a different reason . . . it mentioned We Are The Champions in the user-submitted definition.

Like Wikipedia, Urban Dictionary relies on user content, which in the world of wikis can be a mixed blessing. Wikipedia has been a battleground for what constitutes the “truth” about pretty much anything and there are many competing interests aiming for that lofty goal. In theory, Wikipedia is supposed to be a self-policing environment with volunteer “experts” replacing paid editors. At the end of the day, there is only one generally agreed upon definition or explanation for something. If there is debate about the accuracy of a topic, then it happens in the talk pages where it becomes a rhetorical free-for-all.

Urban Dictionary, on the other hand, is still user-controlled but they allow for multiple definitions to be displayed for each word or term. I suspect that the nature of the language being discussed doesn’t allow for one single voice to be taken as definitive because these are such newly coined terms. And, to be honest, having 37 uniquely worded definitions adds to the draw of Urban Dictionary. It’s part dictionary and part entertainment.

So if one types in ”Queen” into the search field on UD, six pages of results come up. Most are about the band (both supportive and critical), while others range from a label for a chess piece to a flamboyantly gay man. At times, the user-supplied definitions become an on-going thread instead of separate entries.

I wonder if Jeremy threw in WATC simply because he couldn’t think of any other song that was appropriate or if he’s a Queen fan.


No comments:

Post a Comment