Early ADS WOTY nominations posted

Grant Barrett gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG
Wed Dec 19 22:15:38 UTC 2007

I appreciate what you're saying, Ron, but the problem with
"truthiness" isn't that it might be failing--it isn't failing; see
below--but that our vote is what most spurred its popularity. We
stepped off the path and crushed a butterfly and now we've changed
the future. In other words, we went from language observers to
language changers. Before our vote "truthiness" was a nothing word,
barely a blip on the lexicon, and would surely have died an unmourned
death. Not now, though.

Re-doing your searches in Google News--which indexes more than 4000
English-language publications over the last 30 days or so--with the
specification that only articles not containing the following words
be returned, gives different results. I have let Google News attempt
to determine duplicates and do not count them here.

NOT dictionary AND NOT "word of the year" AND NOT colbert -AND NOT
merriam-webster AND NOT dialect

truthfulness 608 hits

"information superhighway" OR "information super-highway" OR
"information highway" OR "info superhighway" OR "info super-highway"
OR "info highway"194 hits

avuncular 113 hits

"ping pong diplomacy" OR "pingpong diplomacy" 42 hits


recondite 21 hits

otiose 9 hits

"semblance of truth" 7 hits

"concierge medicine" 7 hits

"embedded giving" 5 hits

"suicide tourism" OR "suicide tourist" OR "suicide tourists" 8 hits--
only two do not have to do with the documentary film called "Suicide

bushlips 0 hits

> But selecting what are obviously stuntwords with little chance of
> adding to the genuine vocabulary of American English makes the
> whole contest look like pretty much just a giant publicity stunt,
> put together for their own amusement by a coterie of academics
> seeking one moment a year of fame.

Publicity for the society, yes. Amusing for some, yes. Fame for the
individuals, not from her.

It's a good deal of work to collect these things throughout the year,
to do the legwork required to prove that they have legs, and then to
write reasonable definitions for a term that might not yet be fixed
in the lexicon. This year I've put in about 10 to 15 hours a week
hunting new words, twenty or thirty hours in compiling and composing
my candidate list, and still more time in trying to explain its
contents to journalists. Wayne, I'm sure, does a even more work.

The WOTY contest is an antidote to the loud, peevish heralds of
language apocalypse who seem to reign in high places. Our message:
language change is normal, harmless, and a lot of fun if you look at
it the right way. I think it's a message worth spreading.

Grant Barrett
gbarrett at worldnewyork.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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