Two stories in last week's The New York Times feature contributions from DSNA members: you can read Grant Barrett's annual column on words of the year, an amusing, if dispiriting, 29-word summary of the last 12 months, here. Then, check out the intriguing story on a possible etymology for "the whole nine yards," which appeared in the Times the day after Christmas. Ben Zimmer (who was quoted in the article, along with fellow DSNA members Jesse Sheidlower and the late William Safire) has followed up with a discussion of the topic on his Word Routes column at the Visual Thesaurus. Of course, if you want to go the whole nine yards, check out the reader commentary on the Times piece, which is most remarkable for its cheerful refusal to accept the reported conclusions of word-sleuths Fred Shapiro and Bonnie Taylor-Blake.
In other word news, Oxford English Dictionaries apologized for the ghastly timing of its automated "word of the day" mailing, which sent out "bloodbath" as the word for 18 December, four days after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Meanwhile, word-of-the-year announcements continue, with "Gangnam Style" and "fiscal cliff" joining the queue at Collins. Editor Ian Brookes noted that "Gangnam Style" has a good chance of making it into the dictionary itself, given its notable association with K-pop star Psy's most-watched youtube video of all time.
The American Dialect Society, which gravely brings up the rear of the WOTY nominations, is still soliciting nominations: according to their website, "Nominations can be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, tweeted to the Twitter user name @americandialect or using the hashtag #woty12, or they can be posted on our Facebook page." ADS votes on the WOTY at the final session of its annual meeting, next Friday, January 4 at 5:30 pm in Boston.
And to wrap up my penultimate post of 2012, let me share the first few sentences of a news story
from the December 20 Orangeburg County [South Carolina] Times and Democrat:
An Orangeburg County man suffering from apparent mental issues was taken for treatment after parking his truck in the middle of the road, according to a Sheriff’s Office incident report.
Around 8 a.m. Tuesday, callers stated a Ford truck was parked in the roadway on Moncks Corner Road in Eutawville. Deputies found a man sitting in the driver’s seat reading a dictionary.
When asked why he had stopped in the roadway, he said Jesus had told him to do so, the report said. ...
And with that, on behalf of the Dictionary Society of North America, Happy New Year! I hope to see many of you in Boston at the DSNA reception on Saturday.
The completion of volume 5 of the Dictionary of American Regional English has launched a thousand blogs and articles--every journalist, opiner and natterer has something to say, coinages to celebrate, regionalisms to rejoice in, slang to savor. Just in the last two days, for example, articles and postings appeared from Reuters, the Denver Post, the Bangor Daily News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Grand Forks Herald. And that's only what I noted in a casual survey.
So, I'll just cull a couple: here's a followup to the main celebration at the The New York Times Artblog. The posting discusses the work of Brice Russ, a graduate student at Ohio State University who spoke at ADS earlier this year, on his research on "200 million or so messages posted each day in the supposedly placeless world of Twitter," and connects this study to the larger DARE project.
And the Chronicle of Higher Education has two articles: a long reflective piece that unfortunately is only available to subscribers (but here's the link anyway) and a shorter posting on the Chronicle's Lingua Franca blog by DSNA member Allan Metcalf.
In choosing the 2011 Word, the editors were following the electronic footsteps of their readers, who looked up "pragmatic" in increasing numbers during and following Congress's August debate over the debt ceiling. For more details, including comments from DSNA members Peter Sokolowski (Merriam-Webster editor at large) and Allan Metcalf (executive secretary of the American Dialect Society, which picks its WOTY next month), check out the AP wire story.
...now Oxford is announcing the Word of the Year when we still have five weeks of 2011 words to experience! Here's what the Independent has to say about "squeezed middle":
Speaking about [Ed] Miliband's term for those seen as bearing the brunt of government tax burdens while having the least with which to relieve it, Susie Dent, spokesperson for Oxford Dictionaries and language expert on Channel 4's Countdown, said: "The speed with which squeezed middle has taken root, and the likelihood of its endurance while anxieties deepen, made it a good candidate for Word of the Year."
The runners-up include Arab Spring, Hacktivism, Occupy, Phone Hacking and Sodcasting.
Alas, I don't have the self-control of the American Dialect Society, which soberly refrains from choosing its Word until January... so here goes. Writing from the perspective of Western New York State, my Word of the Year is "fracking."