WOTY (Word of the Year) 2015 roundup – Part 2

Just before Christmas I promised I’d be back with a follow-up post on the 2015 Word of the Year (WOTY), once the American Dialect Society had selected its winner. They did that on January 8th and here is my promised analysis.

I usually enjoy this part of each year’s WOTY game because the ADS is the only organization that approaches this the right way. They’re not terribly scientific, as OED tries to be. They’re not purely data driven, as Merriam-Webster is. But they use a quasi-democratic approach, with their members nominating words in various categories and then voting on them. They even let the public get involved to a limited extent by accepting open nominations.

Click for more words on words

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WOTY (Word of the Year) 2015 roundup – Part 1

It’s that time of year again! While visions of sugarplums dance in some heads, some of us in the language world see visions of ideograms and phonemes and other symbolic representations, depending on personal inclinations.

That’s right: the Word of the Year (WOTY) declarations are upon us.

Every important WOTY, in one convenient package! Just click!

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Fight the . . . kyriarchy?

Kyriarchy. Do you know this word yet?

Regular readers of this semi-regular blog will know that I usually stick to issues of vocabulary and usage and avoid confronting topics that are political, religious, ideological, or otherwise potentially controversial.

But I occasionally stray, and that should be expected. Language doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s always political. That seeps into every discussion, and it’s happened here. In most cases, the politics remain discreet: they’re at a low level, or else so present that the topic can’t be discussed without the politics being obvious (making them easier to avoid). In a few cases, I’ve been more direct, giving a post only the veneer of “language blog objectivity.” This works for me: the blog stays out of hot water. The total audience and hit count continue to grow at a pace I’m happy with and I haven’t had to deal with any sudden bursts of attention due to sparking some controversy. I have no interest in wading through a bog of angry comments in response to something I’ve posted.

Fight the kyriarchy by clicking here!

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More List Comma Advice

I’d planned to post something else today, but then a problematical use (or avoidance) of the list comma came streaking across my desk so I changed gears.

Some time back — in one of the earliest posts on this blog — I discussed the list or “Oxford” comma. This issue, whether or not to use a comma before the “and” in a list of items, gets a lot of debate, some of it heated. As with most issues, I don’t treat it as a matter of absolutes: in just about all cases that final comma is good practice (and I recommend it), but some writers are constrained by style guides telling them not to use it. Even if you’re in the habit of using it all the time, every once in awhile you’re going to run into a situation where using it makes the sentence look awkward, and omitting it is the better choice.

Click for a dose of comma ambiguity

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Don’t get all butthurt over it: a new crop of words enters the dictionary

Maybe you missed it late last month (I almost did), but Oxford Dictionaries, the umbrella organization for a slew of English language reference works (among them the OED, the OAD, and the Oxford Thesaurus of English) used their blog to note the recent addition of numerous contemporary terms to their semi-official registries of English. I believe they only do a big add once each year, but it seems like Oxford has gotten into the habit, quietly, of making small announcements every few months of new words they’ve added. Why this one got more attention, I’m not entirely sure — perhaps it was just a slow news day.

Click for more or act butthurt. It’s all the same.

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