What does the word of the year or decade mean to you?
The American Dialect Society (ADS) and similar organizations have been accepting nominations or using quantitative data to determine the 2009 “word of the year” as well as the “word of the decade” for 2000-2009.
The selected words, however, represent more than a dictionary definition. They characterize the evolution of our language and speak for our culutre. In 1990, the ADS listed “notebook PC” as the word most likely to succeed. It’s no wonder then, that candidates for this year include terms specific to online social networking.
The New Oxford American Dictionary named its word of the year for 2009—”unfriend”—a term which refers to removing a friend from a social networking site such as Facebook.
The Global Language Monitor (GLM), which tracks the frequency of words and phrases in print and electronic media, named “Twitter,” the ability to encapsulate human thought in 140 characters or fewer on the popular communication site Twitter.com, as the Top Word of 2009.
In addition to social trends, other top-contending words mirror a year’s worth of economic conditions, with runners-up including foreclosure, unemployed, healthcare, deficit, and stimulus—according the GLM.
In other words, it’s amazing to think how much we can say about our society in one word. What would you cast as word of the year? How about for the decade?