Around the world it’s Word Of The Year®™ time!

Countless (and pointless) places are taking a moment to declare the word of the year, if for no other reason than it lets them pretend they’re working. Here are the ones I’ve been able to find:

  1. Merriam-Webster: Austerity
  2. Germany picked two: One is “niveaulimbo” which translates as “limbo level”, and refers to the constantly lowered standards of television programming and conversations. The other is Wutbürger, or “enraged citizen.” 
  3. The Philippines: j3j3mon, or jejemon – a little monster who only writes in text speak.
  4. Denmark: Vuvuzela (Yawn. That is so last summer.)
  5. The Flemmings chose Tentsletje, or tent-slut, “a word for a woman who has multiple sexual partners at a music festival, a popular summer pastime for young people in Flanders.” No news yet about how the Walloons voted – but I always think Walloon should be word of the year because of how it sounds.
  6. The Dutch themselves (who live just north of the Phlegms) picked Gedoogregering – the nickname given to the current minority government. The word that came in third should have won:  bestuursobesitas — an exaggerated desire to develop company policy and carry it out.
  7. The Swiss seemed to have picked the German word Ausschaffung (deportation) which became popular in the run-up to a recent referendum to automatically expel any foreigner convicted of a serious crime. (The Swiss continue a tradition of intolerance with this choice. Last year’s word was Minarettverbot, = ‘minaret ban.)’
  8. Russia: Аномальные погодные условия — anomalous weather conditions. Re: Last summer’s sweltering weather. Followed by: Ничего подобного никогда не было (There’s never been anything like this).
  9. China: "to swell" (漲, pronounced zhang) is used when describing rapid rising prices and forms part of the Chinese word for inflation.
  10. UK: Big Society – As in the new coalition government’s dream of…

 

And what about Eyjafjallajökull? Blowout Preventer? Robo-signers?

The word of the year in American, English, German, Dutch, Austrian, Japanese, Chinese (Taiwan but NOT the People’s Republic) and William Safire

Well, the votes are in and whomever decides these things has spoken (unlike the Minnesota senatorial race. I say we just let the governor of Illinois decide) we now know what the words of the year are in many languages. Not surprisingly, they were all basically about one of two things: sex and money — except when they were about meat.

Winner: Safire.

Runner-up: Taiwan

The word of the year is a phrase. Go figure.

The Oxford American English Dictionary has chosen carbon neutral as its word of the year. Yeah, can’t even tell you how many times I heard that one used. Hmmm, what’s 0 divided by 0? Given that and the fact that neither truthiness nor pretexting was a nominee I’d say this was a zeitgeist neutral list.

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