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Tuesday, 7 March, 2000, 17:43 GMT
Net terms make new dictionary
internet user
Dictionaries struggle to keep up with net terminology
If you think spam can only refer to a type of tinned luncheon meat made famous in a Monty Python song, you need a copy of the latest Times English Dictionary.

Internet terms like spam, flame and firewall have all been found their way into the new edition.

Spam is described as the practice of sending unsolicited e-mails to groups on the internet. Flame means showing your anger via an abusive e-mail and firewall is a system which isolates a computer from the internet.

Internet terms in new dictionary
Spam
Flame
Postmaster
Firewall
Snail mail
Netiquette
Researchers waded through a database of 300 million words from 11,000 different sources to arrive at the finished dictionary.

The compilers estimate about 500 new computer-related words and terms have been introduced since 1990.

Lexicographer Ramesh Krishnamurthy said: "Once a word starts to appear in spoken conversations, in broadcasts and newspapers, then we think it should go in the dictionary."

Other computer terms included are: postmaster - a person who manages e-mail; snail mail - web users term for traditional mail and netiquette to describe the code of behaviour used on internet.

Dot-com

Some internet terms that failed to make it into the new edition include dot-com - a short term for internet-related business and cybersquatting - the practice of occupying a web address that might be expected to belong to someone else.

"It is always difficult to predict which words will endure," Mr Krishnamurthy said.

"I was working on a dictionary in 1986 when the word 'yuppie' was just coming into the language," he said.

"It came with a hoard of other words, like 'dinkie' and we weren't sure which ones would stick around, so we made the decision to leave them out.

"Three months later 'yuppie' was the key word."

Other recent terms included in the Times English Dictionary include docu-soap, superbug and GMO.

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03 Mar 00 |  e-cyclopedia
Dot.com: Just a bit too dot.common?
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