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New web software is changing the way we create language

By Jim Giles   December 2009

Is the word “awesomepants” part of the English language? Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of it; almost no one has. It probably came into existence because “awesome,” meaning really good, has become so over used. In the past few years, enthusiastic types have begun adding “pants”—as in the American word for trousers—as an intensifying suffix. It crops up on Twitter a few times a day.

Does this level of usage make it a real word? Not by any traditional yardstick. It’s not one of the 650,000 or so words in the OED. Yet some time in the past year,…

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