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Sunday 21st September 2014
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Cheerio Marvellous... You're No Longer Awesome

Tuesday, 26th August 2014 10:30

A person who says they are going to fetch their pussycat in a fortnight is showing themselves to be out of fashion, accordingly to new research on spoken English.

Words such as Google, internet, Facebook and iPhone have taken over from fetch, pussycat and fortnight as the world wide web plays an increasingly important part in our lives.

Marvellous is also being used less frequently and has been replaced by the word awesome, reflecting the American influence on the way British people speak.

The pilot list for the Spoken British National Corpus 2014 project - put together by Lancaster University and Cambridge University Press - looks at conversation starting from the early 1990s up to the present day and is in its early stages.

Language expert Professor Tony McEnery, from Lancaster University, said: "These very early findings suggest the things that are most important to British society are indeed reflected in the amount we talk about them.

"New technologies like Facebook have really captured our attention, to the extent that, if we're not using it, we're probably talking about it.

"The rise of 'awesome' seems to provide evidence of American English's influence on British speakers."

The project is currently analysing around 200 modern conversations but is appealing for thousands more so that it can compare them with those from 20-plus years ago.

Researchers are calling for people to send them MP3 files of their everyday, informal conversations in exchange for a small payment to help them delve deeper into spoken language.

The technological changes in society have clearly had a huge impact on society, with email, smartphone and website also among the top 10 on the list.

And the speed of change within that terminology is also evident.

Walkman, a trendy word of the 1990s, is now on the list of words showing the biggest decline in usage.

The project also appears to give a fascinating insight into social habits too.

Marmalade is a word that has fallen out of use - perhaps showing how breakfast itself is a changing meal - or that today's young may no longer like the bitter-tasting jam.