Tuesday, November 16, 2010


It’s always fun to make up new words, and it must be even more fun to see those words enter the mainstream vernacular to such an extent that they receive official recognition in the Oxford Dictionary. Of course, language is a living and evolving construct and it’s only natural that new words will spring out of new technologies, new discoveries, and new social phenomena. Many of these words are born out of practical necessity, some by sheer accident, and some out of a healthy sense of humour. To celebrate this continuing genesis of new terminology, the people at the Oxford American Dictionary add new words to the official list each year, and celebrate the occasion by selecting one in particular to be honoured as the “word of the year”.

Some of the new words that were in the running for this year’s award included “retweeet”, referring to the act of forwarding a twitter message to other users of that social network; “vuvuzela”, after the World Cup in South Africa introduced the world to this native musical instrument, although “musical” might be a bit of a stretch; and “bankster”, a combination of “banker” and “gangster” which requires no explanation, and might actually be redundant anyway. Then there is “Gleek” to describe a fan of the television show “Glee”; “webisode”, referring to television show episodes or spin-offs which are made specifically for the internet; and “Tea Party”, which is of course the political movement calling for tea with scones and jam to be reintroduced into American society.
But the winner of the Word Of The Year for 2010 is…. “refudiate”. Defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “refudiate: verb used loosely to mean "reject": she called on them to refudiate the proposal to build a mosque. [origin — blend of refute and repudiate], it is Sarah Palin who is responsible for bringing this word to popular attention. The Oxford editors pointed out that although Ms. Palin will be forever remembered for using this word, she is “by no means the first person to speak or write it”. Which only proves one thing: Apparentley, although Sarah Palin did actually say something memorable after all, it still wasn’t an original thought.

No comments: