This Week’s Language Blog Roundup: Passings, words of the year, foreign words

Welcome to this week’s Language Blog Roundup, in which we bring you the highlights from our favorite language blogs and the latest in word news and culture.

We were saddened by the recent passing of Michael Cronan, a graphic designer and marketing executive who was behind the naming of TiVo and the Kindle. We had the pleasure of interviewing Michael and his wife and business partner, Karin Hibma, back in November. We will miss him.

In words of the year news, Lynneguist’s US to UK word of the year was wonk, “one who studies an issue or a topic thoroughly or excessively,” while her UK to US choice was bollocks, “which has a good AmE equivalent in bullshit.”

Word Spy picked nomophobia, “the fear of being without your mobile phone or without a cellular signal,” and for neologism of the year, Grexit, “the exit of Greece from the eurozone.”


Meng, by Xin Mei

Arika Okrent rounded up eight words of the year from other countries, including meng, “dream,” the Chinese character of the year. Geoffrey Nunberg decoded the political buzzwords of 2012 while Erin McKean blogged about her Wall Street Journal also-ran words and we selected our favorite words from TV.

Jen Doll counted us down to the big moment: the American Dialect Society’s word of the year, which was (drumroll please) hashtag. Or #hashtag we should say. Color Robert Lane Greene #unimpressed. For a great roundup of words of 2012, check out Alice Northover’s post at the OUP blog.

In more “of the year” news, The Atlantic gave us the best and worst trend stories and the great book scandals of 2012. The Week told us the most hilarious New York Times’ corrections. Grammar Girl shared her favorite language stories, as did we.

We rang in the New Year with Fritinancy’s word of the week, pre-drinking, “chugging cheap alcoholic drinks before heading out to a bar, club, or sporting event,” and John McIntyre’s different words for drunk. Meanwhile, Jen Doll looked ahead with words to banish in 2013.

The New York Times talked about the Holy Grail of etymology, the whole nine yards, while Lucy Ferriss discussed some other inflation-prone cliches. Ben Zimmer celebrated 200 years of Uncle Sam and taught us how to talk like a doomsday prepper. Meanwhile, we had some fun with our own apocalypse words.

At Macmillan Dictionary blog, Stan Carey explained nominalisation and zombification and told us to try to (or is it and?) get over it. At Language Log, Victor Mair tackled iPhone ideography depicting the plot of Les Miserables, and Mark Liberman considered the malapropism, shunned their noses at us; the unclear shooting dead people; and grammar on Reddit.

In words of the week, Erin McKean noted never events, “the kind of mistake that should never happen in medicine”; missing fifth, “the continuing exodus of prime-age males from the labor force”; and flip, “a mixture of beer and spirit sweetened with sugar and heated with a hot iron.”

Word Spy spotted success theater, “posting images and stories designed to make others believe you are more successful than you really are”; AI-pocalypse, “a disaster caused by an advanced artificial intelligence”; and craftivism, “the use of crafts such as knitting to further political, social, or other activist causes.” Fritinancy looked at said-bookism, “a verb used in place of “said” – almost always a needless distraction.”

Jonathan Green walked us through some dog slang while Oz Worders swam with shark terminology. Sesquiotica introduced his Word Taster’s Companion. The Dialect Blog examined the spread of a slur; where “the South” begins; Piers Morgan’s “hoity toity” accent; and that’s what she said!

This week we learned the relationship between dialect and identity, and when Americans stopped sounding British. We learned how to create a fake author Twitter account; about the worst publisher of all time; how advertising agencies get their names; and some weird baby name laws. We got a foreign language lesson with these emotions for which there are no English words, and these 10 non-English faux pas. We also found out how to talk like Gollum.

We loved these definitions of love, this interview with Grammar Hulk, and these Batman words. We drooled over this diner’s dictionary and are currently obsessed with this list of 100 best lists of all time.

That’s it for this week!

[Photo: CC BY 2.0 by Xin Mei]