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Essex Girl removed from OED

(16 Posts)
TicTacTwo Sat 05-Dec-20 14:14:49

No idea if Karen is in the dictionary but the definition of Essex Girl has me shockconfused

OP’s posts: |
HotelliFinlandia Sat 05-Dec-20 14:43:36

I heard that this morning. Very glad it is being removed, but utterly shocked it was there in the first place - especially in quite that wording.

Dubiousness Sun 06-Dec-20 02:51:22

It's only being taken out of the Learners Dictionary, not the main OED. That will be much harder to achieve as they said they don't tend to remove things.

NiceGerbil Sun 06-Dec-20 02:58:10

If a word or phrase is in common usage then having it in the dictionary is just, well. What the dictionary is for. It's not supposed to take a stance eg loads of definitions of racist words in there etc.

The definition though shock that's, um. It was written by a bloke I'm assuming.

DancelikeEmmaGoldman Sun 06-Dec-20 02:59:45

It is a slur, but it is also a phrase in use. The point of an etymological dictionary like the OED, is to reflect language use, and provide the origin and history of use. There are a great many words marked as offensive, but they ate still part of the language. If the OED includes “TERF”, although I hate the word, it is a part of the language in regular use which should be recorded.

If we believe in free speech, we have to believe in it even for things we don’t agree with.

NiceGerbil Sun 06-Dec-20 03:04:39

Yeah the definition is shit though.

Babdoc Sun 06-Dec-20 09:10:46

“Essex girl” was a stereotype shorthand and everyone knew what it meant. There were entire books of “Essex girl” jokes.
Before that, we had “blonde” jokes. Blondes were similarly stereotyped as dim, shallow, of lax morals, and sexually voracious.
If you remove such definitions from the dictionary, then later historians and writers will be puzzled by the term. You need it as an explanation in the context of the sexist and patriarchal society of the time.

Hardbackwriter Sun 06-Dec-20 09:16:44

Agree that it should remain in the main OED (as should any historical usage, however offensive) - my preference would have been a new definition for the Learners dictionary, with it clearly labelled as offensive/derogatory and it explained as a negative stereotype. The definition in the OED itself is much more reasonable:

Essex girl n. [after Essex man n.] British derogatory a contemptuous term applied (usually jocular) to a type of young woman, supposedly to be found in and around Essex, and variously characterized as unintelligent, promiscuous, and materialistic.

The OED does also include Essex man:

Essex man n. British derogatory a term used to denote a supposed new type of Conservative voter, to be found esp. in London and the south-east of England in the late 1980s, typically (esp. contemptuously) characterized as a brash, self-made young businessman who benefited from the entrepreneurial wealth created by Thatcherite policies:

Hardbackwriter Sun 06-Dec-20 09:19:01

Terf, incidentally, hasn't yet made it in

NiceGerbil Sun 06-Dec-20 15:01:57

Blonde jokes are still fairly common.

I'm blonde and so usually react with a hard stare in the Paddington style if someone starts up with the hilarious blondes are think as pigshit stuff.

EarthSight Mon 07-Dec-20 09:31:52

I don't know what is says in the dictionary but it sounds pretty grim.

However, aren't dictionaries meant to observe and record current languages issues, not omit or pass comment on them?

NiceGerbil Mon 07-Dec-20 09:48:35

The definition is upthread and isn't what I would think of as Essex girl. For me it's more about clothes etc than being promiscuous.

Definitions are subjective aren't they a lot of them and theirs feels off.

Yes they should include it but writing 'unintelligent, promiscuous, and materialistic.' isn't actually a very good definition as far as I'm concerned. Especially the promiscuous part. The overlooking of having a certain style or look is massive.

merrymouse Mon 07-Dec-20 10:04:52

The definition is upthread and isn't what I would think of as Essex girl. For me it's more about clothes etc than being promiscuous.

I think the meaning has changed over the years - 'The Only Way is Essex' alluded to snobbery about Essex, but placed more emphasis on clothes, nightclubs and holidays.

'Essex girl' has always been misogynistic and snobby, but a couple of decades ago the image was of a character in Viz, and now it's somebody on a reality TV show.

NiceGerbil Mon 07-Dec-20 10:23:31

I find it odd that rather than update the definition which seems to me far from clear cut than take it out

I'm sure they have plenty of other offensive stereotypes in there.

Hardbackwriter Mon 07-Dec-20 10:43:04

I think I've maybe caused some confusion - I posted the OED (the full, comprehensive) definition, which it seems to me is fine (it's labelled as derogatory, and makes it clear it's a stereotype ('applied to', 'supposedly') - that's the one that's staying, because the full OED is a record of historical use of language.

The definition that's being removed is in the article above - it's in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, which is for those learning English as a second language to a high level, and reads:
A name used especially in jokes to refer to a type of young woman who is not intelligent, dresses badly, talks in a loud and ugly way and is very willing to have sex

Which is much worse - it doesn't make it clear that it's offensive and a stereotype. It is harder with a learners' dictionary as it's supposed to be written very clearly and simply so perhaps words like 'derogatory' or 'stereotype' weren't considered appropriate. I think taking that out is fine - apart from anything else a learners' dictionary is much shorter than the full OED (which is, in its online version which is now the version of record, entirely unlimited in space) and I don't think it's a term that a learner of English would encounter that frequently any more.

NiceGerbil Mon 07-Dec-20 20:09:36

Ok well there's zero reason for that to be in a text teaching English as a second language. If it comes up the question, what's an Essex girl would be reasonable tbh

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