Korean words make their mark in the Oxford English Dictionary
As huge as the hallyu is, the Oxford also drank a Caribbean salmagundi, the other big flavor of the September expedition. Lime, say, means slow down, an offshoot of limey, Trinidadian slang to foreigners, especially American soldiers who profited from a Quiet War while posted in the 1940s.
Lime time is therefore a pause, a symptom of tabanca, that other Trinidadian delicacy. Imagine post-carnival discomfort. Heavier than a hangover, tabanca is also the melancholy of a failed romance, the pain of what happened without us realizing it, your lime tinged with a funk of ‘a deep blue.
Adding to the color is “like polka dots,” the Jamaican Creole first recorded in 1959, applying to whatever is rampant. Korean words, say, are like polka dots in the revised English glossary, cluttering up this year’s plate.
While the other OED title was a surprise to some backdated quotes, namely The Drive-In (a beast brought to the market long before it was a cinematic location for the skinship) and The Bombshell. bath, an Illinois vogue from 1925, rather than the more recent self-giveaway idea from the Body Shop catalogs.
Yet the deepest shock surrounds the anti-vaxxer. Modern as the state of mind may seem, Edward Jenner knew of such opponents in 1812. Writing to a friend, the father of the smallpox vaccine used the term “the Anti-Vacks” to mark skeptics of the day. A newspaper cartoon from 1808, sketched by Isaac Cruikshank, shows a gang of “mercenaries and ruthless spreaders of death and destruction” denouncing science.
Covered with stains, the dead and dying litter the stage. Breastfeeding mothers cry. Yet the Anti-Vacks Brigade strides forward, jaws clenched, tricorns raised, wielding swords labeled “the curse of human kindness.” The horror is almost enough to make you watch the relative sanity of a declining group of Koreans playing tiggy to stay alive.