Oxford University Names Hashtag The Children's Word Of The Year

28/05/2015 8:23 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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LONDON — Social media sensation hashtag has been named children's word of the year by Oxford University Press (OUP) here today.

The use of the hashtag symbol # to add an extra meaning or comment at the end of a sentence has become commonplace following its prolific use on Twitter to highlight particular subjects.

"This has been a significant change in usage in this year, 2015. Children have extended its [#] use from a simple prefix or as a search term for Twitter to an editorial device to add drama or comment," Vineeta Gupta, Head of Children's Dictionaries at OUP said.

"Children are not tweeting and using Twitter, but they are using the word hashtag and the symbol # for dramatic effect, it is heightening tension," she explained.

OUP analysed more than 120,421 short stories by children aged between five and 13 years old, submitted to the BBC's '500 Words' competition and found that new technology is increasingly at the centre of the children's lives.

Words including email, mobile and Facebook are in decline and are being replaced by the likes of Instagram, Snapchat and emoji.

"The research has shown that children are true innovators and that they are using more vocabulary, not less," Gupta added.

Other words on the technological endangered list are iPod, mp3 and Blackberry. In their place are iPhone, chat app WhatsApp and messaging site ooVoo.

One of the most common plotlines in the short story competition was achieving sudden internet fame after posting a YouTube video.

The '500 Words' competition, part of the 'Chris Evans Breakfast Show' on BBC Radio 2, was launched in 2011 and has seen a big rise in entries.

This year there were 120,421 compared to 74,075 in 2012.

The contest winners will be declared tomorrow.

A significant trend which emerged as a result of the competition is for children to use more hyperbolic words.

So instead of big, great and fantastic, there might be colossal, magnificent or delightful.

While the OUP research identified lots of change, it also showed that some things do not change, particularly when it comes to gender.

The analysis shows girls will write enthusiastically about cupcakes, unicorns and marshmallows.

Boys are more excited about burgers, space, cars and farting.

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