Tuesday, January 08, 2008

WOTY postmortem note

LSA and ADS are over now ... and I think all the UW folks made it back home, despite the 100+ car pile up on the highway in the fog on Sunday (seriously: here). You're almost surely read about the Word of the Year votes at the ADS, and know that subprime was the big winner.

I don't recall any oath of secrecy surrounding the proceedings in the room (or outside it — people were jamming the hallways), so let me dish a little inside dope here. First, John Rickford gave a short but brilliant, rousing statement in favor of subprime as the most important word, and I think that sealed the case. Another major candidate green, in all parts of speech and including as a prefix, was also looking pretty good until then and it was dead after Grant Barrett (rightly) pointed out that if you think there's something new about green this year, you're seriously out of touch. ("We need to talk", he concluded.)

It had its moments, like when in discussing googlegänger (somebody who shares your name, so show up in Google searches for you), the dialectologist/sociolinguist David Bowie (yes, his real name) spoke up in favor of it. And any discussion of quadriboobage apparently makes a lot of people laugh.

But the real kicker throughout was Grant Barrett's Mystery Science Theater-like running commentary on the session. You really had to be there, but: Instead of powerpoint, he projects .doc files on the screen and types hilarious notes on the discussion. When vegansexual got some positive comments, we read "Voting for vegansexual won't get you laid". As va-jay-jay (euphemism for 'vagina') was up, he offered the male counterpart: pa-nay-nay. (I learned yesterday that one current movie includes porkroll for that, but ... . Kids these days.) Of course, with lots of inside jokes, it was even funnier than MST3K.

I'm telling you, those lexicographer folks, they may be the ones who bring language back into a better public light.

Ahhhh, what a fine break from the otherwise oh-so-serious science of language. But that millstone's spinning and it's time to put my nose back to it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You just can't appreciate this circus until you've seen it live, of course!