This month Oxford Dictionaries announced the list of new words they have added to their online dictionary. Some notable additions included “YOLO”, “neckbeard”, and “binge-watch”, slang terms popularized by social media, that are apparently here to stay.
The website also added the term 'sentiment analysis' to their database. Oxford Dictionaries now defines sentiment analysis as:
“The process of computationally identifying and categorizing opinions expressed in a piece of text, especially in order to determine whether the writer’s attitude towards a particular topic, product, etc. is positive, negative, or neutral”
It’s a good definition.
Only, we’ve known what sentiment analysis means for a long time, we’ve been in the business of sentiment analysis for a decade already. Adding the term to the dictionary doesn’t really make it any more real now than it already was.
But the addition does tell us something fairly significant. Oxford Dictionaries doesn’t choose to add words at random. They use the Oxford English Corpus and the Oxford Reading Programme, collections of documents from everywhere from the internet to scientific journals. When a new term pops up in a variety of sources it it becomes a candidate for inclusion.
From the pool of candidates, they choose only those “which [they] judge to be the most significant or important and those which we think are likely to stand the test of time.”
The addition of sentiment analysis to the dictionary is evidence of something we’ve been saying for a long time: sentiment analysis isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and is only going to become a more widespread and important tool for business and technology.
We didn’t need a dictionary to tell us that.
But it’s nice to hear anyway.