Early 2008 WOTY Nominations Posted

Grant Barrett gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG
Wed Dec 24 16:20:38 UTC 2008

Early nominations for the American Dialect Society's 2008 word of the
year vote are now available, including three batches from society
members who specialize in following language trends, and a list of the
most-nominated terms from the general public in the US and Canada.


All nominations will be considered for the American Dialect Society's
19th annual word-of-the-year (WOTY) vote, the longest-running vote of
its kind in the Anglophone world and the WOTY event up to which all
others lead.

It will be held in San Francisco on Friday, January 9, 2009, and is
open at no cost to members of the press and public. Detailed
information on where and when the final vote will be held is here:


Judging by the nomination trends, two major events preoccupied North
America over the last 12 months and dominated its discourse. An
impressive 51% of the nominations were related to the American
presidential election, including 13.5% that were plays on Barack
Obama's name, 2.7%% that were related to "Joe" (as in "Joe the
Plumber" or "Joe Sixpack"), and 2.2% that were related to the name of
Sarah Palin. Coming in a distant second were the 19% of the
nominations related to the ongoing financial crisis.

The top individual nominations from the public so far, in order of

1. "change" 11.7%

2. "bailout" 9%

3. "maverick" 4%

4. "to vet; vetting" 3.6%

5. "Obama-nation"/"Obomination"/"Obamination" treated as one item 2.7%

6. (tie) "game-changer," "hope," and "Obamamania" each with 2.2%

7. (tie) "Obamanos" and "you betcha," each with 1.8%

8. (tie) "Joe Six-Pack" and "meh," each with 1.3%

More nominations, with definitions and supporting information, are
available from these society members:

Nominations from Grant Barrett, chair of the American Dialect
Society's New Words Committee and its vice president of communications
and technology; co-host of the nationwide public radio show "A Way
with Words"; and editor of the "Double-Tongued Dictionary."


Nominations from Wayne Glowka, Dean of the School of Arts and
Humanities at Reinhardt College in Waleska, Georgia, and former editor
of the "Among the New Words" column of the society's journal American


Nominations from Ben Zimmer, executive producer of the Visual
Thesaurus, and member of the Executive Council of the American Dialect


Media contact information for each nominator is included in the files

Nominations from the public can still be sent to <woty at americandialect.org

The best "word of the year" candidates will be:

--new or newly popular in 2008
--widely or prominently used in 2008
--indicative or reflective of the national discourse

Multi-word compounds or phrases that act as single lexical items are
welcomed, as well.

Sub-categories for "word of the year" include most useful, most
creative, most unnecessary, most outrageous, most euphemistic, most
likely to succeed, and least likely to succeed.

The vote is informed by the members' expertise in the study of words,
but it is far from a solemn occasion. Members in the 119-year-old
academic organization include linguists, lexicographers, etymologists,
grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, authors, editors,
professors, university students, and independent scholars. In
conducting the vote, they act in fun and do not pretend to be
officially inducting words into the English language. Instead, they
are highlighting that language change is normal, ongoing, and

Previous winners can be found here:


The American Dialect Society is open to all persons worldwide who have
an interest in language. Membership includes four annual issues of the
society's academic journal, one complete scholarly work per year from
the "Publication of the American Dialect Society" series, and a
subscription to its email newsletter. There is a discounted membership
rate for students at any academic level, who are especially encouraged
to join. More information about membership:



Grant Barrett
gbarrett at worldnewyork.org

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

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