More Maniacal Words of the Year
December 10, 2007
When last we left the word of the year dispute, YS had successfully slain the dragon of “locavore” and invalidated the standing of the Webster’s New World College Dictionary to rule on such a matter after their nonsensical choice of the equally nonsensical “grass station.” I was going to leave the matter at that (or at least wait until the American Dialect Society announced its choice), but the New York Times decided to pull me back in. The Times article basically summarizes YS’ findings, and ends with this quote from the Boston Globe language columnist: “I can’t help thinking that 10 weeks of WOTY fever is about eight weeks more than anyone wants.” Clearly she hasn’t spent much time at the Hammerskjold household.
[Note: the rest of this will be quite dry, but there is a cool word coming up, a possible value judgement on the OED’s part, and a betting tip.]
The Times also mentions this Merriam-Webster contest for WOTY which opened the process up to the masses. Here’s how they described it:
Below you’ll find an alphabetical list of twenty words culled from frequent hits to Merriam-Webster OnLine and some popular submissions to Merriam-Webster’s Open Dictionary. We thought this would be an excellent way to cover the waterfront, since many great candidates for the 2007 Word of the Year are still in their infancy and haven’t quite proven themselves worthy of being entered in the dictionary
This description, however, shows the two biggest problems with the methodology: many of the new words do not meet the snuff of professional lexicographers, and many words are well established, really too established for such a contest. My dream is a system both open and closed; I’m not really sure if any of the contests come close.
Still one of the Merriam-Webster candidates is truly a terrific word: sardoodledum. I won’t reproduce the definition as their entry is really quite great; I will, however, add that the OED definition is in the same vein, but different: “A fanciful word used to describe well-wrought, but trivial or morally objectionable, plays considered collectively; the characteristic milieu in which such work is admired.” I’m partial to the OED’s definition, but only because I take “fanciful” to be someone’s qualitative judgement of the word.
For what it’s worth “facebook” will probably be the winner.