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OMLG

Updated : Tuesday 9 November 2010

When Spexis suggested that I should produce a definition of OMLG, the acronym for Oh My Lady Gaga, I thought it was a joke. But, no, Oh My Lady Gaga is about to overtake the age-old "Oh My God" in the United States. It’s an acronym used more and more in television shows like "Ugly Betty", but it was the famous DJ Scott Mills who has finally – or maybe only temporarily – turned OMLG into "the" acronym everyone’s using. It has proved most successful in China, where young internet users are going — well, gaga over it. Teachers in the schools are up in arms against this acronym, which pupils are using all over the place, including to comment on their classes. So what does it actually mean, Oh My Lady Gaga? It’s an acronym you use to show surprise and amusement. On the internet, you can’t hear a smile, so if you want to let someone know that their post had you in fits of laughter you can use a smiley or even good old "LOL", but that’s getting a bit outdated. If you want to show how cool you are, go for "OMLG", which gets the message across that you are shocked by what you’ve just read but that at the same time it makes you laugh. There is some controversy about the origins of the acronym. To some, the Lady Gaga fans, OMLG is a form of homage to the pop star, who has taken the place of God in the hearts of the young. To others, OMLG in fact means "Oh my lack of God", as they cannot bear any reference to God (OK, by using this acronym they are taking God as a sort of benchmark, so it isn’t really clear where they are coming from). Still others use OMLG to make a gentle dig at their peers, as in: Oh my, like, gosh! What’s most surprising is the tidal wave of OMLG sweeping China. Does it really mean that the whole of China’s youth is crazy about Lady Gaga? The Americans would like to think so. According to Ying Zhang, a young Chinese internet user, the real explanation lies elsewhere. The word "lady", in Chinese characters, suggests an “unusual” situation while the word "Gaga" has connotations of "pleasure". Which means you have a two-in-one acronym, expressing both surprise and amusement.

While it was originally used only on the internet, this acronym has become increasingly current in conversations IRL (in real life), on the radio, television and even in the office, at least in China and the US. In Europe, it is beginning to map out its course. There is very much a feeling that, behind this acronym, a fierce battle of nations and cultures is being fought: the winner’s definition will prevail. It is easy to see how some are resisting, viewing OMLG as yet another sign of American imperialism: "the Americans are imposing their God of pop on the Chinese", that sort of thing. But you don’t have to take sides. Why not just make up your own acronyms? That’s even more cool. How about “GCSA” for “George Clooney Saints Alive!” or "LPH" for "Laughing at Paris Hilton"? See how easy it is, with a bit of practice? Let me have your favourites and I’ll pass them on!

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