2004 Word of the Year candidates (courtesy of SHEW)

The undergraduates in the "Structure and History of English Words" (SHEW) course here at Yale were assigned a semester-long project wherein they collected newly-coined English words (or novel senses of pre-existing words). Culled from the dozens of noteworthy submissions are five words that, I think, capture the Zeitgeist well enough to warrant candidacy for the American Dialect Society's annual "Word of the Year" (WOTY) award. The first three of these words need no definition. The other two reflect young people's growing preoccupation with online social networks; I've defined these words as they may be new to some (even to you geek-chic, techno-savvy, leet-speaking LingBloggers who may be past their college heydays). So, ladies and gents, without further adieu, they are (drum roll, please):

1. Deaniac
2. security mom
3. wardrobe malfunction
4. iStalking (n.) the practice of stalking an individual, or otherwise taking a prurient interest in them, by gathering personal information, e.g. their relationship status, friends or lovers, tastes in music, movies, books, etc., their AIM screennames or cell phone numbers, as can be found voluntarily posted on sites like friendster.com, thefacebook.com, or shared iTunes lists.
5. facebook (v.) to look up a person’s profile on thefacebook.com or on a university’s online facebook, for the purposes of verifying their identity, seeing who their friends are, or any number of reasons that verge on “iStalking” (see above).

(The students came up with many other coinages--some quite clever--that I don't think warrant the WOTY prize but which I'll share with you LingBloggers soon.)

(And yes, I use 'they'/'them' as singular, gender-neutral pronouns, for any of your Fowler-quoting, Safire-reading, AHD-Usage-Panel-citing closet-prescriptivists who may be blogging or "lurking" here...)


Post a Comment

<< Home