Monday, January 16, 2006

The year in words

Hello, everyone! Forgive the absence. The holidays and traveling and then illness (and a bit of laziness in between) kept me away for much longer than planned.

And I missed all these conversations about words of the year.

The New Oxford American Dictionary chose podcast. That's certainly a word that came into its own in 2005. Not a bad choice. And editors there have discussions about the word. They argue about making a serious choice. Thought goes into it.

Merriam-Webster picked integrity. I can't say that word really defined 2005 for me, but the dictionary's criteria was the word with the most hits on its Web site. You can't really argue with that. People looked up what they looked up.

The American Dialect Society liked truthiness. That's from "The Colbert Report" and refers to stating concepts one wishes to be true rather than stating the facts. It's clever, and might just be snarky enough to hold on for a while. Maybe.

But infosnacking? That was Webster's New World College Dictionary's choice. And though I apparently do it quite often, I've never heard of the word. And the dictionary's editor in chief, Mike Agnes, wouldn't be surprised.

"We try to choose a word that tickles our linguistic funny bone or is significant in the way language reflects culture," Agnes said in a Cox News Service story.

Wherever did the editors spot it? In an Associated Press story a few weeks ago, according to the Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. "They thought the term for acquiring discrete bits of information on various Web sites during office hours might stick. It didn't."

Agnes said, "We have no explanation for this."

And then there's CNN, which had a story on some of these words Jan. 7. Sudokus, to which I'm sufficiently addicted, were mentioned in the headline, only spelled "soduko." (The error has since been fixed.) They're making their own words of the year over there. (However, the story does mention the clever whale tail, the strings of thongs you often see peeking out of women's low-rise pants.)

Add to these round-ups all the commentary on Lake Superior State University's banished words list, and that's a lot of talk about the language. This one is probably more useful for copy editors than the other yearly lists. It's like a compilation of word we can excise almost every time we see them in copy (the FEMA entry excluded, of course).


At 4:08 PM, January 16, 2006, Blogger gone said...

Your triumphant return makes me smile.

At 2:22 PM, January 17, 2006, Blogger Nicole said...

What a nice comment! Thank you.

At 11:43 PM, January 19, 2006, Blogger Paul said...

Would have to agree with cannot be trusted. Podcast clearly the stand-out winner.

At 11:47 PM, January 19, 2006, Blogger Nicole said...

Thanks, Paul.


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