The Atlantic Wire, “20 Years of Dumb New Words”

October 23, 2013

Comment on Philip Bump’s analysis of the American Dialect Society’s Word of the Year selections, “20 Years of Dumb New Words” (The Atlantic Wire, Oct. 23, 2013)

As an Ngram enthusiast and Chair of the New Words Committee for the American Dialect Society, I had an obvious interest in your analysis. It’s quite true that some of ADS’s choices over the years, from “bushlips” to “plutoed,” are cringeworthy in retrospect (and may have been cringeworthy at the time, to be honest). Fortunately, we don’t take ourselves too seriously as ultimate arbiters of lexical success, though I think the Most Likely to Succeed and Most Useful winners have actually fared pretty well. And many of our recent overall WOTY champs — especially techie terms like “tweet,” “app,” and “hashtag” — are clearly here to stay, even though we pick an overall winner according to its zeitgeistiness rather than its projected staying power.

Read the rest here.

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