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Word of the day: OMG, wow

OMG! this abbreviated exclamation of excitement was not invented by netters, netties or netheads. Unbelievable but it is almost a century old. 

OMGOMG! dates back to the Great War, to the year 1917. At least that’s what the venerable Oxford English Dictionary and the magazine Time tell us. OMG! occurred for the first time in a letter to Winston Churchill in the year 1917. It was written by Lord Fisher. Read more

Why OMG? Because it was imported into the Dutch language. And also because it’s today’s OED Online Word of the Day (Oxford English Dictionary, 12 January 2014)

OMG is a type of internetslang called a ‘letter homophone’. Letter homophones consist of abbreviations and acronyms. ‘CU’, for instance, is an abbreviation. It is a shortened form of ‘See you’.

An example of an acronym (also a kind of abbreviation) is the word LOL for ‘laugh out loud, that I discussed last year.

A synonym of Dutch ACRONIEM is LETTERWOORD. There are three kinds of acronyms in Dutch. First you have the acronym in which the abbreviated initial letters are pronounced as a new word. LOL is an example of such an acronym.

Then you have ‘lettergreepwoorden’ (syllable words) in which the new word consists of the first letters of the various parts. Examples are: HORECA for ‘hotel’+’restaurant’+’café’ (catering industry) or SOFINUMMER for ‘sociaal-fiscaal nummer’ (National Insurance Number or Social Security Number).

Last but not least there are the ‘initiaalwoorden’ in which the initial letters are pronounced as separate letters. An example is AOW for ‘Algemene Ouderdomswet’ (Old Age Pensions Act or old age pension). OMG is another ‘initiaalwoord’, an acronym consisting of the first letters of the exclamation.

Oh! My God! became ‘oh my God!’ or ‘oh my goodness!’ OMG!: another English contribution to the Dutch language. LOL!

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