Ben Zimmer · Mr Verb · OUP · WOTY

WOTY – Oxford Dictionary style

Once again Mr Verb reminds me that the American Dialect Society, chaired by Ben Zimmer, will soon be plumping for its ‘Word of the Year 2012’.

Last year it turned out to be ‘occupy’, a distinctly disappointing decision in my opinion, given the rich choice on offer. I preferred ‘bazinga’, from the ‘Big Bang Theory’.
The year before, it was ‘app’, which got it over Sarah Palin’s attempt to outdo George Bush in lacerating the English language with ‘refudiate’.
I’m guessing that Twitter locutions will feature as contenders in the coming fray and I notice that Zimmer had his eye recently on new words being generated in the Twittersphere. His posting “How Twitter language reveals your gender – or your friends’” has some very interesting information about what you are likely to give away in your tweets. He also makes the point that, because it hasn’t yet had time to ‘establish well-defined norms of usage’, it’s a veritable ‘Wild West of language’.
Oxford Dictionaries (UK) has already plumped for ‘omnishambles’, although also in the running were: ‘pleb’, a word once commonly used has now been notoriously brought back to life; and, ‘mummy porn’, which seems to have superseded ‘chick lit’.

Oxford Dictionaries (USA) has also made its choice: ‘gif’, the verb, derived from the noun ‘gif’, which, according to the dictionary, is ‘a compressed file format for images that can be used to create simple, looping animations’. The also-rans were ‘Eurogeddon’ and ‘omnishambles’.

I can’t help thinking that my daughter’s favourite would be ‘gangnam style’, if ‘One Direction’ were disallowed, that is!
Update: my daughter tells me there’s a good example of a ‘gif’ to be found at Tumblr, here.

With thanks to the OUP for the image: