FANCY a spot of shoulder surfing this Chrismukkah? But what would you do with your Yngling or Chelsea tractor?
These are some of the recently-coined words and phrases that made it big during 2004, and are set to be rewarded with inclusion in that famous authority on the English language, the Chambers Dictionary.
Researchers for the Edinburgh-based publication have been monitoring the lexical movers and shakers of the past 12 months and noted the emergence of exotic terms such as Chrismukkah - a combination of Christian and Jewish festivals used on some greetings cards.
Yngling, meanwhile, is a class of boat brought to linguistic prominence by Scots Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson. Shoulder surfing has entered the language to describe spying at a cashpoint to steal a PIN number, and Chelsea tractor is, of course, the disparaging term coined to describe a four-by-four vehicle.
These, and dozens of other words that emerged during 2004, are now hot favourites for inclusion in the next edition of Chambers, which is due to be published in 2008.
Ian Brookes, editor-in-chief of the dictionary,
said: "They are a combination of words that we think are likely to have a long-term impact - but also words that have raised eyebrows and have, in some ways, depicted or symbolised what has been going on in the world."
The Norwegian word Yngling, pronounced ‘ing-ling’, was rescued from obscurity when Dundee-born Robertson took her second Olympic gold in the Yngling class of boat in Athens last August.
Also from sport comes the word ‘galactico’ to describe a top-class footballer playing as part of a star studded team. And on the terraces you might see ‘chavs’ among the supporters - teenage yobs with a penchant for cheap jewellery, baseball caps and even Burberry.
Other contenders are new discoveries and inventions from the world of science. These include Sedna, the planet discovered in March that is thought to be the Solar System’s 10th planet, named after the Inuit goddess of the ocean, as well as a ‘splatometer’, a postcard-sized piece of plastic attached to the front of a car used to measure the numbers and variety of insects encountered on the road.
The new words also reflect the ever-changing developments in technology, with additions including Blackberry, the handheld e-mail and mobile phone unit that is now the must-have gadget of business, and ‘blogosphere’, the world of the online diarist.
Brookes added: "Some are words associated with news stories over the year, others are more general that have come to prominence, and which will probably be part of the language for a longer period of time.
"For example, a word such as ‘blogosphere’ hasn’t been that common, but it is a word that is likely to continue and to appear in the next edition."
Brookes explained that while editors constantly scoured novels, television and newspapers for new words, their final inclusion in the 2008 edition would depend on how they stood the test of time.
He said: "When a word ceases to be the jargon of a small group but becomes a live and active part of the English language, then it is included in the dictionary.
"Our criteria for that is if the word has been used with a relatively great frequency, as well as over a wide area and period of time. There tends to be a slight time lag, and we wouldn’t want to include a word if we had only come across it a couple of weeks before."
The internet has given English many more words, with new entries including rogue dialling, an internet scam which hijacks a computer’s software, diverting its connection to an international premium-rate number.
Other crimes include honey laundering, where cheap honey from other countries is re-labelled and passed off as expensive home-grown produce. In July, a beekeeper from Hawick was fined for selling cheap Argentinean honey as the produce of prime Scottish bees feasting on Borders heather.
Acronyms are increasingly popular, often due to their use in e-mails, and reflect social trends seen in society. SKIing, or Spending the Kids’ Inheritance, describes those affluent pensioners who splash out on exotic holidays or expensive hobbies by taking advantage of the rise in the value of their property or pension schemes.
However, the word for many younger parents is kippers, or Kids In Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings. It describes the trend of children leaving home at an ever later date, draining away their parents’ savings.
Words from across the world are also included, such as Janjaweed, the Sudanese Arab militia accused of genocide in Darfur.
There are also several American words and phrases of 2004 vying for inclusion. Among them are the demographic groups chased by political parties for votes such as a security mom - a mother obsessed with the issue of national security - or a ‘Nascar dad’, a stereotype of gun-loving, blue-collar workers epitomised by the fans of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing.
Dr Graeme Trousedale, an English language scholar at the University of Edinburgh, defended the choice against critics who might feel some of the words were not suitable for entry into a dictionary.
He said: "If a word has become so widespread in common parlance that it is actually under consideration for a dictionary, then it pretty much has become an English word by that stage."