What better way to celebrate 2011 than with all of the Mots du Jour uttered by an assortment of Dumbos, faux celebrities, and Occupiers. If this is (fair & balanced) glottology, so be it.
[x NY Fishwrap]
Which Words Will Live On?
By Grant Barrett
Actual Tag Cloud of the following article
Collecting the past year’s words is like sifting one’s pockets at the end of a trip. Some things you’ll keep, some you’ll discard — the dinner receipt for the expense-account meal vs. the one-peso coin. Each is a reminder of what you did, where you went and whom you were with.
In 10 years, some of last year’s words will be relics. We’ll think of them the way we now think of the decades-old phrase “gag me with a spoon.”
Others have already proved their staying power. Who could argue that the new sense of “occupy” isn’t already a keeper, even starting as it did late in the third quarter of 2011? A movement so well labeled, if not cohesive in thought and action, that its name instantly lent itself to variation and satire.
We create all this new language, political and otherwise, for a lot of reasons. We’re school-yard taunters, looking for the joke, the riff or the gag that will stick. We’re novelty-shop fanatics, spending every paycheck in the House of Language on gewgaws and gimcracks and tchotchkes. Below are just a few of the catchwords I’ve snagged during the last 12 months: Some are oldies that have resurfaced and taken on new life.
53 PERCENTER An American in a household that pays income tax. Coined by conservatives who believe that the economy would improve if those who do not pay income taxes did.
99 PERCENT, 99 PERCENTERS People claimed by the Occupy movement to be at a financial or political disadvantage when compared with the 1 percenters, those who protesters say have too much money and too much political control.
9-9-9 PLAN The proposal by Herman Cain, a former Republican presidential candidate, for a 9 percent flat income tax, a 9 percent business flat tax and a 9 percent national sales tax.
ARAB SPRING Collectively, the popular revolts and protests in Middle Eastern and Arab countries, among them Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria. Less frequently called Arab Awakening.
AUSTERITY MEASURES Reductions or restrictions on government spending, meant to balance budgets, reduce deficits and meet standards set by intergovernmental lenders.
BASKETBRAWL The fight that broke out between members of the Georgetown Hoyas and the Bayi Rockets during an exhibition basketball game in Beijing.
BATH SALTS The street name for a group of stimulants made illegal this year.
BRONY A man who is a fan of the television cartoon “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.” Formed from “bro,” brother or male friend, and pony.
BUFFETT TAX A proposal that people making more than $1 million a year pay a higher rate of income tax than they do now and more than those who make less. Named for the investor Warren Buffett, who advocates the approach. Also called the Buffett rule.
CLOUD MUSIC Personal digital music collections stored on remote servers so that they may be accessed by all of a person’s digital devices. Both Apple and Google introduced cloud music services this year.
CRANKSHAFT The code name used for Osama bin Laden by the Navy Seals team that killed him in Pakistan.
DARK SKY Designates a place free of nighttime light pollution. For example, the island of Sark in the English Channel is a dark-sky island.
DEATHER Someone who doubts that Osama bin Laden was killed by American troops.
DEBT CEILING Not a new term, but now familiar to all: the limit to the amount of money the federal government may borrow.
HUMAN MEGAPHONE A method of amplifying a speaker’s words in which everyone who hears them repeats them in unison. Used in the Occupy protests, though not invented there. Also called the people’s mike. To activate the human megaphone, a speaker will announce a mike check.
HUMBLEBRAG A complaint, wry remark or self-deprecation that also reveals how famous, rich or important the speaker or writer is. Popularized by the comedian Harris Wittels, a writer for the NBC series "Parks and Recreation.”
KARDASH A unit of time measuring 72 days. Coined by the musician Weird Al Yankovic in response to the 72-day marriage of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries.
LEAP SMEAR Adding a few milliseconds each day to a computer’s time-keeping. Google’s solution for handling leap seconds, which are added to official world time to account for changes in the earth’s rotation.
LIKEJACKING Tricking users of a social media site, especially Facebook, into posting spammy content in their accounts or on their pages. Usually activated by clicking a “like,” “fave” or “thumbs up” button.
NYM WARS A public debate about the requirement by some Web sites, especially Google+, that users not use pseudonyms. From the suffix -nym, as used in pseudonym, ultimately from the Greek onuma, for name.
OCCUPY WALL STREET A left-leaning movement protesting wealth inequality and urging more government action against banks and corporations, which are seen by the protesters as being responsible for the current economic downturn. Abbreviated as O.W.S. or just Occupy and extended by replacing “Wall Street” with any place name, as in Occupy L.A. or Occupy Toronto. Occupy and occupation have been used in the context of political or labor protests since the 1920s.
PLANKING Posing for a photograph with the body in a stiff prone position, especially in odd situations or places. Similar popular pastimes this year include horsemaning, posing for a two-person picture that makes it look as though a supine headless body is holding a severed head, and Tebowing, kneeling as if praying in the manner of the Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, with one knee down and one up, and one’s head resting on one’s fist.
SUPER COMMITTEE A group of 12 lawmakers, 6 Democrats and 6 Republicans, 3 each from the House and the Senate, that tried to make a plan on how to reduce the deficit. Also, the Gang of Six, three Democratic and three Republican senators who worked on reducing the federal government’s debt.
TOT MOM Casey Anthony, acquitted of charges of killing her 2-year-old daughter. The term was largely popularized by Nancy Grace, host of her own HLN program.
TWINKLING Silently affirming a speaker by raising one’s hands, palms outward, and wiggling the hands and fingers. Similar to a gesture used in American Sign Language as the equivalent of applause. Brought to wider public attention by the Occupy movement (see human megaphone, above) but predates it by many years.
WINNING Used repeatedly and not ironically by the actor Charlie Sheen at the time of his tumultuous departure from “Two and a Half Men.” It was quickly taken up as a catchphrase. Related: tiger blood, which Mr. Sheen figuratively used to describe his motivations. Ω
[Grant Barrett is Co-host/Co-producer at "A Way with Words" (NPR) and the Vice President of Commmunications and Technology at American Dialect Society. He also is the Chief Editor at Double-Tongued Dictionary. Barrett studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and later transferred to Columbia University and received a BA (with honors) in French.]
Copyright © 2012 The New York Times Company
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Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves by Neil Sapper is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at sapper.blogspot.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available here.
Copyright © 2012 Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves