Sunday, January 07, 2007

Lists: Words of the Year

It's January, so tie on your napkins and prepare for the usual linguistic smorgasbord. Since New Year's Day is a fairly dead news time, a dozen or more organizations and publishers release their Words of the Year List around this time to garner attention.

Some are much better than others since the choices are made by experts, not by a fickle public, and some factor in frequency/volume to prevent opinionated curmudgeons from tipping the list. At any rate, they provide an interesting diversion and invite us to contemplate the limits of our language.

Here are a few Words of the Year Lists for 2006:

American Dialect Society
I tend to favor this list above all the others because it is based on a closed vote by professional wordsmiths. Even Homer nods, but I respect their linguistic opinion more than that of enthusiastic amateurs.

Oxford University Press Word of the Year
Words chosen by the editors at the New Oxford American Dictionary.
Three categories are listed:
* The top voted-on words for 2006 (196,848 total votes)
* The top 10 looked-up words on for 2006
* The top 10 looked-up new words on for 2006 (words only found in
Webster's New Millennium™ Dictionary of English)

Merriam-Webster Online
Users of the online dictionary vote.

Separated by a Common Language
Nominations submitted by readers of this blog, which attempts to document British/American vocabulary swaps.

Lexiteria Top Ten Words of 2006
Nominations to the online dictionary are checked against frequency of use on major search engines.

Lake Superior State University 2007 List of Banished Words
Nominations are solicited through the media, but the results often seem unfiltered; some older terms find their way to the “new” list each year.

Global Language Monitor Annual List 2006
Words and phrases culled from around the English-speaking world.

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