Column One: We speak Millennese (but don't ask us how to spell it)

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The Independent Online
HOW DO you plan to spend New Year's Day? Well, you could start the day with a speedball, clock up some mouse miles reading v-mail and go out in the evening to see your favourite synthespian in a hotsy film.

For those whose vocabulary is rooted in the Nineties, that means you'll have a coffee with an extra shot of espresso, spend time at the computer, check video attachments on your e-mail, then go to see a box-office hit film with - what else? - a computer simulation of a dead actor.

This is not the future: it is now. English is already assimilating words that spring from our obsession with the newest technologies as well as our continuing obsession with drinking coffee and watching fashionable movies.

Lexicographers say the new century is bringing a new vocabulary. Inelegant as they may sound, hotsy, synthespian and cleffer are the new buzz-words for dictionary compilers. Bloomsbury Publishing, which produced this year's Encarta World English Dictionary, has 320 experts in 20 countries keeping watch on what is fashionable in English - now spoken by two billion people.

They have selected a top 10 of words and phrases that are tipped to become part of our everyday language by next year and which are to be included in the next edition of the Encarta dictionary.

Even if we do speak millennial English, Bloomsbury's research has also confirmed that many of us cannot spell it. As we approach the new millennium, one of the most commonly misspelt words is - millennium. Many people miss the fact that there are two l's and two n's. The confusion, say Encarta specialists (perhaps assuming that a classical education is more ubiquitous than it is), relates to the fact that although millennium and millennial have two n's, millenarian and millenary have only one. This is due to the words' different Latin origins.

Kathy Rooney, editor-in-chief of the Encarta, said: "The English language is constantly changing and developing, so Bloomsbury have initiated a worldwide language-monitoring programme to record how words are used, how meanings change and to look out for new coinages as they appear in books, films, newspapers, journals and, of course, on the Internet."

New words to watch out for in 2000

Mouse miles, plural noun, the amount of time that somebody spends at a computer (humorous).

Replacement drink, noun, a drink that is designed to replace energy and electrolytes, used especially to assist the body in recovering from exercise.

Speedball, noun, a cup of filter coffee with an added shot of espresso.

V-mail, noun, video mail, especially a video clip sent as an attachment to an e-mail message.

Hotsy, adjective, lucrative and performing strongly at the box office: a hotsy opening for a film (slang).