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Are you a phubber?
Oct 11, 2013
A frequently asked question for a Dictionary Editor is how do words come into being. When McCann approached us with their idea of creating a word for the activity of ignoring other people in favour of digital devices we welcomed the opportunity to take part in the process of coining a word which they would then launch on to the world. Part of the attraction was that they would document the process and provide a video illustration of the progress of a word that was attempting to break into the shared language of the community.
It was clear from the outset that this was a difficult thing to achieve, and success, measured by inclusion in the Macquarie Dictionary, was not guaranteed. But it would be interesting to watch what happened.
The coinage that was selected from many possibles - another interesting aspect - was 'phubbing' (phone snubbing). For quite a while nothing happened. Then suddenly 'phubbing' was taken up by a newspaper in the UK and flowed from there to the global media. The state of play at the moment is that the word has had a lot of media exposure but always in conjunction with the anti-phubbing campaign and always with the meaning provided by way of explanation. It stands a much better chance of gaining its freedom as an item of general currency than it did when it started out, but it is not quite there yet. The video gives an interesting account of its progress.
Watch the video Phubbing: A Word is Born
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