It's Official: NOAD Demeans Self for PR Gold

victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 17 01:06:39 UTC 2010

I don't think the parallel quite works. Truthiness was a deliberate
invention and it was deliberately comical. The reason it was rapidly
adopted (like "truther" and "birther") was because it conveyed an
interesting notion which was previously "untraslatable" in English.
(Once again, I am using "untranslatable" not in its literal sense, but
to imply lack of compact representation.) As a deliberate coinage it
seemed interesting.

In contrast, "refudiate" was /not/ an original coinage, was obviously
a malapropism and its comic effect was not deliberate, but based
largely on /who/ said and how she acted in relation to that word.

For the record, I have no technical problem with NOAD deciding that
"refudiate" should be its WOTY. My problem is with crediting Palin
with "coining" the word. For one, as has been mentioned here
previously, Palin is by no means the first person to make use of
"refudiate". To make it worse, she effectively repudiated the coinage
by immediately replacing the original nonsensical tweet with another
nonsensical tweet that did not contain the word.

To be clear, NOAD's WOTY has nothing to do with the study of language
and is, instead, social commentary, which is why it notes the
occurrence of the word as coming from Palin while completely ignoring
it when it comes from others. So WOTY is not merely a recognition of a
word (in its traditional sense or nonsense), but a nod to the context
in which the word occurred and to the global (where English
speakers--particularly Americans--are concerned) response to it. My
own view is that this was unworthy of the "honor", but Time had made
Hitler Man of the Year at one point, so there is little point
splitting hairs on this one.

But the article reporting it is factually wrong. And /that/ is a bigger deal.


On Tue, Nov 16, 2010 at 10:22 AM, Ronald Butters <ronbutters at> wrote:
> There is perhaps a certain truthiness to these arguments that attack NOAD for political pandering and publicity hounding, but (unreconstructed antipolitical-correctness liberal that I am) I'm not sure that this is too different from the ADS embracing of a certain comedian's neologism as Word of the Year a few Januaries ago.

The American Dialect Society -

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