Updating Language

Published 6th May 2011
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Updating Language

Languages change and evolve continually with the passing of time.

Updating language: Words are constantly added and removed, or even loaned from other languages, or given new meanings. For this reason, dictionaries are never finished, but are a living work which should be updated periodically so that they reflect these changes and the new forms of language which appear.

But, who chooses and updates these words in the official dictionaries of each country? Well, there are countries, like the United Kingdom, where there is nobody who oversees the changes in the English language. In other countries there is an organisation or institution which is responsible for the regulation and updating of the country’s language. This is the Real Academia Española (Royal Academy of Spanish) in Spain, and La Accademia della Crusca (Crusca Academy) in Italy.

In Spain, a consensus of 22 Spanish Language Academies is reached; they propose appropriate changes which, once studied and approved, are incorporated into the Academy’s dictionary, the DRAE (Diccionario de la Real Academia de la Lengua Española). The last update included 2996 additions, amendments and deletions.


According to experts, while the RAE seems more conservative and somewhat reluctant to add certain modern terms or neologisms, English dictionaries “are more open, they are more receptive to linguistic change.” The content of the Oxford English Dictionary, for example, is updated four times a year. In its previous update, which took place in March, 1900 changes were made, and the most modern expressions and neologisms were included, such as LOL (laugh out loud), FYI (for your information), OMG (oh my God). These terms are being used more and more in electronic communications, such as text messages, social networks, chats and emails.

Finally, here’s another new addition, which particularly grabbed my attention: the verb “ego-surfing”, which defines the act of searching for your own name online (who hasn’t done it at least once?).

Las lenguas cambian y evolucionan continuamente con el paso del tiempo.

Constantemente se añaden palabras, o se eliminan, o bien se toman prestadas de otros idiomas, o se atribuyen nuevos significados. Por esta razón, los diccionarios nunca están terminados, sino que son un trabajo vivo que debe ser actualizado periódicamente y reflejando así esta evolución y las nuevas formas del lenguaje que van surgiendo en cada idioma.

Pero, ¿quién se encarga de elegir y actualizar estas palabras en los diccionarios oficiales de cada país?. Bien, hay países, como Reino Unido, en los que no existe ningún tipo de figura que regule los cambios del inglés. En otros países existe un organismo o institución que se encarga de la regularización y la actualización de la lengua del país. Es el caso de la RAE (Real Academia Española) en España, y también La Accademia della Crusca en Italia.

En España se realiza un consenso entre 22 Academias de la Lengua Española; estas proponen aquellos cambios que consideren oportunos, que, una vez estudiados y aprobados, se incorporan al DRAE (Diccionario de la Real Academia de la Lengua Española). La última actualización incluye 2996 adiciones, enmiendas y supresiones.

De acuerdo con los expertos, mientras la RAE parece ser más conservadora y algo reacia a añadir ciertos términos modernos o neologismos, los diccionarios de inglés “tienen una apertura mayor; están más receptivos al cambio lingüístico”.


El contenido del Oxford English Dictionary (Diccionario Oxford de Inglés), por ejemplo, es actualizado cuatro veces al año. En su última actualización, que tuvo lugar el pasado mes de marzo, se realizaron unos 1900 cambios, y se incluyeron las más modernas expresiones y neologismos como LOL (“laughing out loud” – “Reírse a carcajadas”) FYI (For your information – “Para tu información”) OMG (“Oh, my God” – “Oh, Dios mío”), términos cada vez más usados en los medios electrónicos en inglés, como mensajes de texto, redes sociales, chats o emails.

Y para terminar, otra nueva incorporación, la cuál me llamó especialmente la atención: el verbo “ego-surfing”, que define la práctica de buscar en internet tu propio nombre (¿quién no lo ha hecho alguna vez?).

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