Thursday, January 27, 2011

2010 Word of the Year

It’s is well known, at least among my peers, that Sarah Palin’s ‘refudiate’ was voted the 2010 word of the year by Oxford Dictionary; however, I believe the more noteworthy word of the year comes from the American Dialect Society’s vote.

App’, or an abbreviated form of application, a software program for a computer or phone operating system, was the linguist’s selection of the year. In a press release the American Dialect Society explains, “Word of the Year is interpreted in its broader sense as “vocabulary item”—not just words but phrases. The words or phrases do not have to be brand-new, but they have to be newly prominent or notable in the past year, in the manner of Time magazine’s Person of the Year.” As a blogger about language this quote is very relevant because words like ‘refudiate’, or Merriam Webster’s choice of ‘austerity’, might get media attention or are frequently searched online, but the American Dialect Society makes sure to pick pop-culture words that are sweeping the entire nation. For me, a true word of the year should be frequently used and therefore applicable to daily life.

Even though President Obama didn’t directly mention ‘app’ in his State of the Union Address, I believe his emphasis on innovation makes a strong argument for the word. Obama described the many forms of innovation, from the age of the internet and the ‘app’ that we now live in, to clean energy, creating new jobs, and reinventing old ones.

Here is some proof that technology has been a rising area of interest in America, even in language. Previous American Dialect Society words of the year have included ‘e’ as in email (1998), ‘web’ (1990s), ‘information superhighway’ (1993), ‘tweet’ (2009), and ‘Google’ (word of the millennium). Those who voted in favor of ‘app’ say that the word has become omnipresent. I agree, and the same is true for many other technological terms.

The internet is penetrating and even enriching our vocabulary. Technology is no doubt an integral part of the American society in 2011. All of this innovation should be embraced in order to “win the future” as President Obama might say.

I just wanted endorse the point that vocabulary and language isn’t some mystical, foreign entity only changed by highly educated linguists. Everyday people and modern ideas shape language. Similarly, language reveals prominent trends of the people.

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