If you had any lingering doubts that social networking is pervading our lives, doubt no longer.
The American Dialect Society, an association that studies the English language late last week announced that “tweet” is the top word of 2009, and “Google” — the verb, not the noun – is the top word of the past decade.
“Both words are, in the end, products of the Information Age, where every person has the ability to satisfy curiosity and to broadcast to a select following, both via the Internet,” said Grant Barrett, chair of the society's New Words Committee, in a statement. “I really thought 'blog' would take the honors in the word of the decade category, but more people google than blog, don't they? Plus, many people think “blog” just sounds ugly. Maybe Google's trademark lawyers would have preferred it, anyway.”
The Twitter microblogging site definitely is getting a lot of attention among wordsmiths.
Last November, the Global Language Monitor announced that it had selected “Twitter” as the top word of 2009 based on its annual global survey of English words and phrases that appear in the media and online. And the New Oxford American Dictionary in November announced that “unfriend” — a word meaning to remove someone from a list of friends on a social network like Facebook — was its 2009 Word of the Year.
The American Dialect Society compares its word of the year to Time magazine's Person of the Year. The society noted that it tries to show that language change is a naturally ongoing process.
Runners up in the 2009 Word of the Year category included Dracula sneeze, which means to sneeze into the crook of your elbow, much as Dracula did when he was hiding part of his face with his cape. Other potential winners were H1N1, fail, and -er… as in birther, truther and deather.
The society also noted that other words or phrases up for Word of the Decade were: 9/11, blog, green, wi-fi, text and war on terror.
The American Dialect Society began choosing Words of the Year in 1990.
The 2008 Word of the Year was “bailout”. The 2007 word of the year was “subprime”, which describes a less than ideal loan or mortgage. The 2006 word or phrase of the year was “to be plutoed”, as in to be demoted or devalued. And the 2005 word of the year was “truthiness”, which is from Stephen Colbert's the Colbert Report, meaning what one wants to be true regardless of the facts.