December 17, 2011

It's that time of the year: WOTY

WOTY nominations are rolling in. Here's Ben Zimmer's take. He has selected five words or phrases in the categories "domestic affairs," "foreign affairs," pop culture," and "tech." Among them are the following:

  • occupy (described -- by Geoffrey Nunberg -- as "that rare linguistic phenomenon, a word that....helps to create the very thing it names.")
  • downgrade (related to the reevaluation of the U.S. debt ranking)
  • Arab Spring (not a dance piece)
  • bunga bunga (sex parties hosted by the Italian prime minister)
  • deather (people who do not believe in the official story of the killing of Osama Bin Laden)
  • tiger mom (related to the controversial book by Amy Chua)
  • humblebrag (faux humility, I suppose it can also be used as a verb)
  • FOMO ("fear of missing out" -- leading to people being glued to their Facebook screens)

There's more at the link.

(For those who care about these things: For a brief time, Ben Zimmer was the successor of William Safire as the author of "On Language," the weekly column published in the New York Times Sunday Magazine for over 30 years. As expected, Zimmer did a splendid job, acting less like a maven and more like a linguist, and yet the column was ousted from the magazine, as were other columns that made the Sunday Magazine an interesting read. Go figure. Anyway, Zimmer  has found a new home as a columnist (he also still occasionally writes for the Times, though not the Magazine) at the Boston Globe. His first column will run this weekend. Hallelujah.)

Edited to add: First column here.

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