Lets give a Shaka to Oxford English Dictionary as they add new Surf terms

OED adds slew of terms like barrel….It deserves a shaka. ,too!

Surf News Network, 17 December, 2016 – The Oxford English Dictionary recently announced its latest update, including more than 1500 revised and updated entries, and getting amongst it with those new revised and updated entries are a few surfing terms.

As curated for the OED by Encyclopedia of Surfing founder and editor Matt Warshaw, the new terms include A-frame, bomb, cross-step, shaka and barrel. The OED issued the below statement to announce the addition of the new surfing terms.

Many of us would recognize the sense of break as a place in the sea where waves break, but it would probably only be the surfers themselves who know that an A-frame is a wave with a central peak which forms both left and right breaks simultaneously.

Or that a new sense of bomb means a very large, powerful wave, especially one that is much larger than others in a set. Other interesting surf terms to be added include cross-step, a step or series of steps in which a surfer walking along a longboard crosses one foot over the other; the hollow cylindrical space which forms within a breaking wave between the crest, the face, and the foot, often hiding from view a surfer riding the wave is a barrel; when the surfer has their front to the wave is called frontside; and turtle: a technique used to get past a breaking wave when paddling, by rolling over on one’s back while holding on to the surfboard above the body then resuming a normal prone position on top of the surfboard once the wave has passed.

Bama and shaka are two additions which have become established in localized colloquial usage over a long period of time before being more widely popularized and spreading into the broader vocabulary of English. Bama was originally used by the 1920s simply as an abbreviation for Alabama. However, it later became a slang word referring to a person from the rural American south, regarded as unsophisticated or unfashionable. Fast-forward to 2016, and Beyoncé has reclaimed the word in her album Lemonade with the lyrics: ‘My daddy Alabama/Momma Louisiana You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas bama’.

Shaka is used as an interjection to express positive sentiments such as affirmation, approval, and solidarity, characteristically as a greeting or valediction. It is another word that originated in a local variety of American English, in this case Hawaiian English. Shaka has also been adopted by the surfing community, giving it a new lease of life worldwide. Its second meaning is as a gesture of greeting, affirmation, or approval in which the thumb and little finger are extended outward from a closed fist.

Of course, it’s easier for Wikipedia to get with the times…

“The shaka sign, sometimes known as “hang loose”, is a gesture of friendly intent often associated with Hawaii and surf culture. It consists of extending the thumb and smallest finger while holding the three middle fingers curled, and gesturing in salutation while presenting the front or back of the hand; the hand may be rotated back and forth for emphasis. The shaka sign was adopted from local Hawaiian culture and customs by visiting surfers in the 1960s, and its use has spread around the world”.


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