Saturday, January 06, 2007

ADS Word of the Year Winners

The American Dialect Society has announced its choice for Word of the Year. According to some the ADS WotY is the most prestigious of all WotY awards. At least it is so among ADS members. Unlike the Merriam-Webster or awards this one is not chosen by the public. Nominations were accepted from anyone, but open on-line voting was not used to decide. As Benjamin Zimmer wrote on Language Log, the free ballot "simply prove[s] that fans of Stephen Colbert and truthiness will swamp any such competition."

There were winners in several categories.

Word of the Year Pluto, verb: as in to pluto or to be plutoed. To demote or be demoted as was the planetary body. Nominees: climate canary, murse (man's purse), surge, prohibited liquids, flog (commercial/fake blog), YouTube, macaca/macaca moment.

Most Useful Climate Canary, noun: an organism or species whose poor health or declining numbers hint at a larger invironmental catastrophe on the horizon. Nominees: data Valdez (a massive information leak), flog, sharrow (an arrow marking a bicycling route), boomeritis (Baby Boomers' afflictions or injuries).

Most Creative lactard: a person who is lactose-intolerant. Nominees: Fed-Ex (Kevin Federline), julie (verb, meaning to organize an event like Julie on The Love Boat), snowclone.

Most Unnecessary SuriKat: the scientolobaby. Nominees: the decider (with definite article indicates a micromanager), Fox lips, (colored and lined to make more prominent as of female anchors on Fox News).

Most Outrageous Cambodian accessory: Angelina Jolie's adopted child. Nominees: sudden jihad syndrome (sudden outburst of violence from a seemingly stable and normal Muslim), firecrotch, macaca, tramp stamp (tatoo on the back just above the wasteline).

Most Euphemistic waterboarding: interrogation technique of pretending/threatening to drown a detainee. Nominees: surge, lancing (forced 'outing' of closeted celebrity), lyric malfunction.

Most Likely to Succeed YouTube verb: to use the website. Nominees: carbon (in combining forms used as shorthand for air pollution), the decider, macaca moment, m-/man-/men- (known as "man-fixes" in compounds and blends such as moobs, manboobs, murse, man purse, mancation, man crush, manmaries, menaissance etc. They left out "manssière" aka "the bro".

Least Likely to Succeed grup: a Gen-Xer who does not act his or her age. Nominees: pwn, stay the course.

New Category: Pluto-Related Words pluto or plutoed verb. Nominees: dwarf planet, pluton, small solar sytem body (SSSB)

I must say the winner in the Most Creative category sounds juvenile. I'm guessing it's based on the root tard: slow. The root when taken as a clipped form of the noun retard is one of those brazen insults that is often a conscious challenge to Political Correctness. It's usually used in familiar conversation when the game is "who can be more offensive?" It goes something like this:

"Differently abled? What does that mean? Everyone is differently abled!"
"Yeah. It's not like 'special' isn't an insult anymore anyway."
"Why not just go back to calling them handicapped. It's saying the same thing."
"Or even 'retard.' That's a technical term. It's accurate isn't it?"
"Or how about 'tard.' I think that's what we should start saying."

And everyone laughs/groans in disbelief because it's so egregious.

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