The Salad Dodger

Wordie’s mole at the The Wall Street Journal has forwarded another worthwhile post, this one from the WSJ Health Blog. The WotY is a global phenomenon*, and Heather Won Tesoriero posts about some gems in the ‘health’ category of the Word of the Year contest sponsored by the Macquarie Dictionary in Australia.

My favorite by far is “salad dodger,” defined as an overweight person. I envision an Artful Dodger focused solely on junk food, quietly pocketing moon pies while avoiding the soy police.

* And an exhausting one. I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t even blogged about the American Dialect Society’s recently annointed WotY. I very much like their choices and their attitude, both of which are better than most of the commercial WotY offerings. But I’m suffering a bit of WotY fatigue**. I’ll try to get fired up, as Obama (and Hillary) would say, this weekend.

** Doubly embarrassing is that I have given short shrift to Wordie’s own grassroots WotY movement, which has been great fun to watch from the sidelines. Though part of me thinks it might function best as a phantom WotY, forever discussed but never announced.

NYTimes Buzzwords 2007

The “Word of the Year” roundups just keep coming. Grant Barrett’s guide to this year’s award season starts with Webster’s nomination of “grass station” on October 31st* and runs through the American Dialect Society’s 18th annual WotY vote, to be held January 4. It includes a full 17 events, including The New York Time‘s Buzzwords 2007 piece, also by Grant, which came out today and is the best of the lot so far.

Grant makes no pretense at being complete or authoritative, though as a professional linguist, author of The Lexicographer’s Rules, and host of the radio show “A Way With Words” he’s more qualified than most to do so. This is a list of words and phrases that caught the eye of someone whose business it is to pay attention to such things, and it’s a welcome change from the typical pseudo event.

Most importantly, Grant has a good eye, and ear. Earmarxist, crowdsource, and ninja loan are delightful, as are most of the others on this list.

* Amazingly Webster’s New World doesn’t seem to have a blog entry or even a press release about it. Here’s a newspaper article.


I know it’s not cool to be a prescriptivist, but can I just say that Merriam-Webster picked the dumbest fucking word in the universe as their Word of the Year 2007? I’m aware that M-W itself didn’t make the choice, the eleven year olds who use their web site did, but isn’t that why they have all those lexicographers lying around? To point out when the rest of us are being idiots, and shut us down?

A few people wrote this week about M-W’s announcement, and I didn’t say anything, because I didn’t have anything nice to say. Actually I have one nice thing to say, which is that some of the comments on Wordie’s page for it are pretty good, including the links to various etymologies, and, especially, the prior art from Chaucer. But I got a few more emails today and figured, fine, I’ll uncork myself and spew some bile.

I’m not even sure I don’t like the word, but I hate that they picked it, and I’m not alone. It’s not just the winner that sucks, it’s the whole list. Conundrum? Apathetic? What do these words have to do with anything interesting or topical? The only good word of the lot is Pecksniffian, though why it’s on a list of words for 2007, and not 1857, is beyond me.

M-W is in the doghouse, along with William Safire. I’m now doubly glad M-W got voted off the island a month or so ago, when by unanimous consent they were replaced by OneLook as one of the sites Wordie links to.

Japanese Buzzwords

Fast on the heels of the OUP’s WotY, here’s a list of 60 words and expressions nominated for Japanese Buzzword of the Year by publisher Jiyu Kokuminsha.

A few seem uniquely Japanese (#35, “Tetsuko,” or female train fanatics), but in general the mix of political scandal, sports, and pop culture that spark coinage appears to be universal. Some (#49, “working poor”, #52, “inconvenient truth”) could have appeared on any list, in any language.

Thanks to Lampbane for the link.

Other words of this year

Dictionary Evangelist, aka Erin McKean, has posted a list of coulda-been-a-contender words that didn’t make it onto the WotY shortlist, but perhaps should have. They’re solid words, and they’re words. The runners-up on the official OUP list included, to my mind, too many phrases, like “colony collapse disorder” and “social graph.”

Erin’s list: brick, hypermiler, griefer, jatropha, and unconference. Check out the post for the full poop.

There’s a movement afoot to pick a Wordie WotY, curated by the Coed League of Extrawordy Gentlemen, and chosen by popular vote. More details here.

There She Is, Locavore

The Oxford University Press, in the role of Country Music Television (or perhaps TLC), has crowned their Miss America: this year’s Word of the Year is locavore. Or as mollusque would have it, proxivore.

Here’s where I finally get to take a Walt Winchell (or perhaps Matt Drudge) turn: a few WotY contenders (though not the winner) made a brief appearance on Wordie last week, courtesy of… well, I won’t say, but they came from on high, and were promptly removed.

That’s right, lexicographic dish! Oh, I would die happy if this became the Page Six of the lexicographic world. Quixotic, maybe, but a boy can dream.

WotY: Truthiness

Every year the Associated Press chooses a word of the year; it’s sort of the Wordie equivalent of the Swimsuit Issue or the Playmate of the Year.

This year’s winner, by a 5-1 margin over the runner-up, is “truthiness.” In honor of that timely neologism, here is a list of Colbert Report Neologisms.