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Hashtag named ‘Children’s Word of the Year’

Tech terms dominate new phrases used by youngsters

Hashtag is ‘Children’s Word of the Year’ for 2015 according to a report published today by Oxford University Press (OUP). 

The hashtag – and the # symbol used to represent it – has already shifted into common usage thanks to its function in categorising tweets on Twitter. But the OUP’s research shows that it’s now made the leap into the everyday language of children.

The OUP analysed more than 120,000 short stories submitted by children aged between five and 13 for this year’s BBC 500 WORDS competition.

It found that children are now making use of the hashtag to add emphasis to their stories, in the same way as they would on social media.

“She then picked it up and ran out of the cave… the cave exploded and she didn’t look back at it exploding, she just kept on walking forward # super cool.” (from a story submitted by a nine-year-old girl this year)

It’s not just hashtagging that’s taken off. Other social media terms such as ‘vlog’ and ‘selfie’ have made a huge impact this year, and the OUP found many stories being written about going ‘viral’ and becoming a YouTube star. YouTuber Zoella was mentioned 217 times in the 2015 competition.

Animatronic, pointless blog and vlogger are among the words to appear for the first time in the competition’s four-year history this year.

But in a sign of the rapidly changing world of tech, terms such as Blackberry, Wii, iPod and even television, Facebook and email have fallen in usage.

Vineeta Gupta, Head of Children’s Dictionaries at Oxford University Press said, “Language is constantly changing and adapting. Children are true innovators and are using the language of social media to produce some incredibly creative writing. What impresses me most is how children will blend, borrow, and invent words to powerful effect and so enrich their stories.”

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