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Favorite Words of 2004
January 12, 2005 11:42 AM   Subscribe

Linguists Gone Wild Linguists from The American Dialect Society and the Linguistic Society of America recently met to vote for the Words of the Year, in various categories—Most Useful, Creative, Unnecessary, Outrageous, and Euphemistic; Most and Least Likely To Succeed; and an overall Word of the Year... no one really cares unless we pretend that These Are Important Words That Define Us as Americans. Still, that's marginally better than the alternate interpretation: This Is How Scholars Waste Their Time When They Could Be Doing Real Work.
posted by weepingsore (23 comments total)

 
I'm not offended by much, but I got a little sick to my stomach after reading the definition of "santorum." I think it was the "frothy" that got me...

Anyway, thanks for that.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 12:01 PM on January 12, 2005


Reminds me of this old link:

101 years in 101 words
posted by aerify at 12:02 PM on January 12, 2005


crunk

WHAT!
posted by jeffmik at 12:17 PM on January 12, 2005


YEEEYAH
posted by manicroom at 12:23 PM on January 12, 2005


I adore "pajamahadeen". I also think it would be great fun to morph the top two contenders for "Most Euphemistic" to create two new terms: "badly wardrobed", and "source malfunction".

Finally, props, of course, to our Mo Nickels (and his blog), mentioned in the article.
posted by taz at 12:23 PM on January 12, 2005


That definition of santorum is surely older than 2004?
posted by Robot Johnny at 12:23 PM on January 12, 2005


I think it was the "frothy" that got me...

I like the way languagelog puts it: santorum, n. the frothy residue of [redacted]. As others will no doubt point out, the full story on that word can be found here (probably NSFW, also don't click if you got sick to your stomach as above).

The official list of words is here (PDF). And who said they weren't working, anyway?
posted by casu marzu at 12:26 PM on January 12, 2005


aerify, can you shed some light on what "hot-desking" means? (from your link) Am I so out of touch?
posted by ORthey at 12:26 PM on January 12, 2005


Suprisingly, their pick for word of the year was "asstastic."
posted by jefbla at 12:26 PM on January 12, 2005


Robot Johnny, the words don't have to be new.
posted by Mo Nickels at 12:28 PM on January 12, 2005


hot desk, v. to share a desk, office, or other work space between employees on different shifts or schedules. It's an off-shoot of hot-bunk, when workers (especially in the military) sleep in the same bed at different times.
posted by Mo Nickels at 12:30 PM on January 12, 2005


Thanks for the name-check, taz.
posted by Mo Nickels at 12:33 PM on January 12, 2005


I thought these were kind of boring, especially red/blue/purple states.


I adore "pajamahadeen".


That was the one that stood out to me, as well.
posted by The God Complex at 12:36 PM on January 12, 2005


I thought red/blue/purple was kind of awkward phrasing as well, but its pertinence as a concept is pretty strong, which is what I think they're going for here.
posted by manicroom at 12:59 PM on January 12, 2005


For the record, it looks like "santorum" was birthed in mid-2003 (and still beats the senator's page in google-ranking).
posted by nobody at 1:13 PM on January 12, 2005


"Lawn mullet" slew me.
posted by the_bone at 1:24 PM on January 12, 2005


the_bone, while we're on the subject of language, thanks for indirectly informing me that "slayed" isn't the only appropriate past tense for "slay". Ya learn sumthin' new...
posted by esoterica at 5:24 PM on January 12, 2005


Thanks for the link! Personally, I thought "improvised explosive device" (i.e., bomb) would be a shoe-in for Most Euphemistic. Or better yet, "vehicle-born improvised explosive device" (i.e., car bomb). Peace.
posted by micropublishery at 6:52 PM on January 12, 2005


This Is How Scholars Waste Their Time When They Could Be Doing Real Work.

What's really frustrating is that while there were hundreds of linguists there, and massive amounts of serious talks, this stupid word of the year thing is all that gets any press. If you want to judge linguists for wasting their time, you should be judging whether most of what actually occurred at the LSA is a waste of time, as opposed to what a tiny minority of those present were involved in, and something that is basically of no consequence to linguistics or the outside world.
posted by advil at 7:18 PM on January 12, 2005


First use of 'bloggorhea' on MeFi (I think) : November 2000, by waxpancake.

I think it's extremely amusing that he says in the same comment "I think we should have a contest to coin the stupidest term with blog in it. [...] Of course, we don't really need a contest. We could just let the press and the blogging community stumble across them organically."

I actually like blogorrhea, though, cause it reminds me, as it should, of logorrhea, rather than, er, diarrhea.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:47 AM on January 13, 2005


Crap. Here's the comment.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:48 AM on January 13, 2005


For the record, it looks like "santorum" was birthed ...


But when was the lingusitic abortion "birthed" born?
posted by Ayn Marx at 9:01 AM on January 13, 2005


What's really frustrating is that while there were hundreds of linguists there, and massive amounts of serious talks, this stupid word of the year thing is all that gets any press.

This cannot be denied. However, the American Dialect Society is not a subgroup of the Linguistic Society of America; it merely holds its annual meetings in conjunction with LSA since there is a large membership overlap. The WOTY is a way ADS tries to connect with non-specialists and it seems to work for us. The attention means we can interest lay people in our other work and in language in general. Our very active email list includes many non-specialists and independent scholars and our society membership--which is very inexpensive and includes a subscription to the quarterly journal American Speech--includes such people as well. Heck, I started out as a casually interested observer, and now I'm a member of the society, an appointee to its executive staff, and a dictionary editor.

The LSA, however, makes no effort, apparently, to promote to the popular press its annual meeting or the individual presentations. There were many interesting papers given (some which are mentioned in the Slate article) that even when dejargonized and simplified for a lay audience would be of great interest. It's up to LSA and its individual members to do the promotional work, if they feel it necessary. If not, who are we to complain on their behalf?
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:59 AM on January 13, 2005


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