Sunday, December 24, 2006

That time of year

Well, the Solstice has come and gone, and Kwanzaa's not here yet. The gifts for the little Verbs are all wrapped and carefully hidden. (I won't give anything away, but let's just say that somebody special is getting a new dental preterit to replace a worn-out ablaut pattern and we've all had our eye on a new prefix.) You know what that means ...

Word of the Year time! The mania has started. Let's cross Safire off the 'naughty and nice' list first, with today's column:
By far the hottest word of 2006: the noun realism, with its brother noun, realist, as a label for its practitioners.
You already know, if that was my game, I'd have a lump of coal for him. There's no factual or scientific outrage here -- it's pure opinion. But even if you survive the lexical category labeling (These are nouns!?!?!? Whoa, get me Chomsky on the phone, quick.), it's just lame ... a flimsy language-related hook for a ramble through policy labels and images.

The NYT's Week in Review has a big piece on "A Buzz Saw of Buzzwords: In 2006, language cut deeply ...". Both they and NPR's Weekend Edition bizarrely declare decider to be a new noun. You guessed it: OED Online has it from 1592 in the same meaning -- just used about Irish bishops rather than the self-declared one of our day. Grant Barrett has a "Glossary" column inside, a sidebar to a page of buzzwords. Nothing in there moves me to speak of. ("Fox lips" for overly made up lips, based on female anchors on the Fox network may be the best of the lot.)

When we think about the topic, fans of the Colbert Report (me included) tend to focus on last year's truthiness, but it's worth noting that some other recent choices have more day-to-day punch in our lives -- like Oxford's 2005 choice of podcast (thus the image above). Wikiality is under discussion, but that's too much like Time's Person of the Year decision, a dead horse I've already beaten too long.

What does move me is the knowledge that in less than two weeks, I'll be at the American Dialect Society meeting (in Anaheim, of all places -- long story) where the real Word of the Year will be decided. Nominations are open!

So, folks, especially fellow members of the Colbert Nation, how should I vote at the ADS?


Rosina Lippi said...

Have fun at the ADS with all those wild party animal types.

Wish I could be there.

Mr. Verb said...

Will do, thanks! Gonna be one big ole ton of fun. Used to be, the ADS would get a little local and maybe some national coverage for WOTY, but now it's big deal. (And yes, thank you, Stephen Colbert, for doing so much for our nation AND the study of language.)

I'm taking my passport in case security is tight, like worse than it was when Chomsky spoke at LSA in Boston a couple years ago (you had to have an LSA badge on!). "Yes sir, officer, that's Verb with a V, first name ..."