Early ADS WOTY nominations posted

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Wed Dec 19 23:11:05 UTC 2007

I obviously screwed up in neglecting to put quote marks around compounds in
my Google searches, but Grant's (much better) statistical procedures yield
results similar to mine, it seems to me: TRUTHINESS is about as rare as RECONDITE
and four times less used than AVUNCULAR. Not a very good record for the "Word
of the Year," is it? I don't see much evidence of "popularity" in a word that
is only marginally more widely used than OTIOSE.

I do agree with Grant that, without ADS-L, TRUTHINESS would be even less
significant than it is (though the fact that it was putatively created by a
popular television personality, who made a big to-do about his cleverness and
ownership, was arguably more important than WOTY in bringing the word to the
attention of the pblic at large). The fact that the WOTY festival may have changed
the course of lexicographical history in this very minor way is indeed mildly

I also am grateful to Grant and Wayne for the enormous amount of serious work
they put into the process. I just wish that the final selection processs were
not the frivolous carnival that it always is. I do appreciate Grant's point
that what ADS does with WOTY, however silly and unscientific it may often be,
is better than "the loud, peevish heralds of language apocalypse" one hears
elsewhere. I just wish that our results could be less frivolous than theirs.

In a message dated 12/19/07 5:16:10 PM, gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG writes:

> 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
> TRUTHINESS 28 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
> Tourist."
> 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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