MILLENNIAL ANGST LEADS A HOST OF BUZZWORDS

MILLENNIAL ANGST LEADS A HOST OF BUZZWORDS

Can you guess the year in which these terms started to appear in print: gray market, upskill, softnomics, share economy? The answer is 1983.

You may be surprised that what seem like the buzzwords of the 1990s were already being used almost a decade before. This is not unusual in the world of new words. Chances are the words you will be using during the early years of the new millennium have already begun to appear.As chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, I am often asked how the dictionary goes about the business of recording new words. The answer is that a host of researchers comb through published material, from the tabloid press to scholarly tomes, for instances of new words (and new meanings of old words) entering the language.

Quotations are noted and recorded, and when a new word is added to the dictionary the quotations that best document the history of the word are chosen to illustrate it.

Much of the work is done by paid readers, but I should not neglect to mention the wealth of material that comes to us from volunteer contributors who spot new terms and send them to us for consideration.

Over the years, thousands of contributions have been provided by amateur word sleuths. One of the most notable was American expatriate William C. Minor, a Civil War veteran whose contribution to the Oxford English Dictionary was recently chronicled in Simon Winchester's book, ''The Surgeon of Crowthorne'' (Penguin), published as ''The Professor and the Madman'' in the United States (Harper Collins).

John Murray, the editor of the OED at the time, said that he could have illustrated every word in the dictionary coined in the 16th and 17th centuries with quotations from Minor, who sent in at least 10,000 pieces of word evidence while confined to an English insane asylum.

In July, I renewed the appeal for new words for the Oxford English Dictionary first issued by the original editor, James Murray, 120 years ago. Hundreds of new submissions have already come in, and I would like to take this opportunity to ask readers to let us know of any words from the world of commerce and finance that they suspect might be absent from the dictionary.

In fact, contributions do not have to be only for new words - I am just as interested in early examples of established terminology, especially when they are earlier than those already recorded in the dictionary. Submissions can be made through the Oxford English Dictionary's Web site: http://www.oed.com.

Here are some recent finds from our reading program. How many do you know?

* Analysis paralysis - caused by overwhelming quantities of information.

* Bleeding edge - beyond the cutting edge.

* Censorware - used to screen Internet sites.

* Co-branding - collaborative marketing of two or more established brands.

* Coopetition - cooperation between competitors, especially in the computerindustry.

* Flexecutive - multitasking executive.

* Greenwash - environmentally responsible propaganda issued by companies.

* Herding cats - management jargon used to describe something difficult or impossible to achieve.

* Hurry sickness - caused by excessive work-related concerns.

* Info-dump - indigestibly large amount of information.

* Infoholic - person addicted to acquiring information.

* MBWA - management by walking about.

* MBWAWP - management by walking about without purpose.

* Mindshare - consumer awareness of product.

* Off-topic - not relevant (especially of Web-site postings).

* Portfolio career - composed of successive short-term contracts.

* Presenteeism - reporting for work even when sick, for fear of losing job.

A first step in submitting a word should be to check whether it is already recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary. This task will become easier in March, when the dictionary will appear online for the first time.

Online accessibility represents a major step in a 20-year project to completely revise the Oxford English Dictionary for the 21st century. Due to be completed in 2010, this is the first complete revision in the history of this great dictionary. The largest dictionary of English in the world, it contains almost 300,000 headwords and more than 2.5 million quotations.

Subscribers will be able to access the Web site to find the latest words from any field.

For words from 2000, watch this space - and, if you will, you, too, can help us fill the pages of the Oxford English Dictionary with the words of the new millennium. To start you off, here are two expressions that have recently come to our attention: millennial angst and pre-millennial tension.

The Journal of Commerce welcomes opinion articles of up to 750 words on issues of public policy. They may be e-mailed, without attachments, to gstorey(AT)mail.joc.com; or mailed to Editorial Director, The Journal of Commerce, Two World Trade Center, 27th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10048. Articles should include the writer's name, address, business or organization if pertinent, day telephone number and fax number. They may be edited for space or clarity.