Word of the Year Part 1


I’m at the Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting in Minneapolis right now, and one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the conference, for linguists and non-linguists alike, is fast approaching: the Word of the Year vote. A room full-to-bursting (in my experience) with professional linguists votes on the word that we decide was the most important linguistic innovation of the year. We also vote on the following categories for a word: most useful, most creative, most unnecessary, most euphemistic, most likely to succeed, and least likely to succeed, plus a grammatical innovation category (for example, -spo meaning “inspiration”, as in fitspo, thinspo). The official nomination meeting was last night, but there will be opportunities for more nominations during the vote itself. There are many good contenders for the different categories, but some words which you may recognize were brought up frequently: “selfie”, “twerk,” and “Sharknado,” as well as the general doge style I mentioned in my post before Christmas. There is always lively debate about these topics — for example, some linguists have brought up that certain populations have used the word “twerk” for over 20 years; does it really merit mentioning at a Word of the Year meeting just because it recently got appropriated by Miley Cyrus? However, older words with newer usages have been successful in previous Word of the Year votes. Last year, the Word of the Year was “hashtag,” which was in circulation before last year, but just now was being used in spoken speech rather than merely as a way to tag tweets with their topics.

I’ll update tomorrow with the results and a summary of the discussions that ensued.

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