January 2012

Michael Hirsh, “Gingrich Goes Grandiose… What That Tells Us About Him” (National Journal, Jan. 26, 2012)

There is something quintessentially Newtish about Gingrich’s gleeful embrace of the word “grandiose” on the campaign trail in Florida today. … But in running with the word, Gingrich is also willfully ignoring its pejorative sense –which has gradually come to be the more accepted connotation, says Ben Zimmer, a linguist who formerly authored the “On Language” column at the New York Times and chairs the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society.

Read the rest here.

Mallary Jean Tenore, “2011 Word of the Year Shows How Old Words Take on New Meanings” (Poynter, Jan. 9, 2012)

The American Dialect Society has chosen “occupy” as the 2011 Word of the Year. “It has taken on new parts of speech (as an imperative verb: ‘Occupy!’ or as an attributive noun: ‘the Occupy movement’) and new meanings, related to the protest movement and its style of demonstrations,” Ben Zimmer, chair of the organization’s New Words Committee, told me. “It was also remarkable how the word itself contributed to the movement’s success.”

Read the rest here.

Stephanie Gallman, “Linguists Name ‘Occupy’ as 2011′s Word of the Year” (CNN, Jan. 8, 2012)

The linguists have spoken and they have decided — “Occupy” is 2011′s word of the year.

Members of the American Dialect Society came out in record numbers to vote Friday night at the organization’s annual conference, held this year in Portland, Oregon.

“Occupy” won a runoff vote by a whopping majority, earning more votes than “FOMO” (an acronym for “Fear of Missing Out,” describing anxiety over being inundated by the information on social media) and “the 99%,” (those held to be at a financial or political disadvantage to the top moneymakers, the one-percenters).

Occupy joins previous year’s winners, “app,” “tweet,” and “bailout.”

“It’s a very old word, but over the course of just a few months it took on another life and moved in new and unexpected directions, thanks to a national and global movement,” Ben Zimmer, chair of the New Words Committee for the American Dialect Society, said in a statement.

Read the rest here.

Press release from the American Dialect Society, “‘Occupy’ is the 2011 Word of the Year” (Jan. 6, 2012)

In its 22nd annual words of the year vote, with record attendance, the American Dialect Society voted “occupy” (verb, noun, and combining form referring to the Occupy protest movement) as the word of the year for 2011.

Presiding at the Jan. 6 voting session were ADS Executive Secretary Allan Metcalf of MacMurray College, and Ben Zimmer, chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society and executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com. Zimmer is also a language columnist for the Boston Globe.

“It’s a very old word, but over the course of just a few months it took on another life and moved in new and unexpected directions, thanks to a national and global movement,” Zimmer said. “The movement itself was powered by the word.”

Read the rest here.