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American Speech 76.4 (2001) 411-423

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Among the New Words

Wayne Glowka, Megan Melançon, Lisa Gandy, Allison Blount, Amy Bufford
Georgia College & State University

IN THE LAST INSTALLMENT of "Among the New Words" ("ANW"), we treated winning Words of the Year 2000; in this installment, we treat the also-rans. Nearly all of the citations have come from searches on Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe or on the raw Web itself. Given the large number of citations from electronic databases, we are amused at a paragraph of a letter found in several boxes of documents given to Brenda K. Lester (former assistant editor of "ANW") by Mary Gray Porter (former assistant editor and editor of "ANW"). The letter, dated 26 April 1983, came from the typewriter of Fred Cassidy (now deceased editor of the Dictionary of Regional American English) and was addressed to I. Willis Russell (now deceased editor of "ANW"). After some words of thanks regarding citations sent to DARE by Russell and other words of encouragement from Cassidy concerning Russell's upcoming cataract surgery, Cassidy predicts the demise of "ANW":

"Among the New Words" is going to be before long, I suspect, another casualty of the computer. Have you heard of "Lexis-Nexis," the new computerized file of words in context available from Mead Data Central? The man in charge is William Stalcup, at the Dayton, Ohio offices (P.O. Box 993, Miamisburg, Ohio 45342). They can search and print out for you any word or name found in a large number of American newspapers since computer indexing came into common use. So if you have evidence of a new word or sense, they may be able to antedate or postdate your quotations.

We are pleased to announce that we are not yet a casualty. We also note, somewhat priggishly, that the Dow-Jones database, in the able hands of someone like Barry Popik, can antedate Lexis-Nexis, one problem being the lack of full-text articles from the Wall Street Journal in the version of Lexis-Nexis available to us at any rate.

This list of words comes from the January 2001 meeting of the New Word Committee. We offer special thanks to Gareth Branwyn and David K. Barnhart for their lists of nominations and to Laurent Thomin and George Cole, respectively, for citations of blobject and m-commerce. We left off two of the nominations that survived the committee meeting: McMansion ("ANW," American Speech 72: 412; see also Barnhart Dictionary Companion 10.3) and e-tail [End Page 411] (covered in "ANW," American Speech 75: 329). We are pleased to announce that Megan Melançon has joined the faculty at Georgia College & State University and will be helping us with future installments. We thank students Allison Blount, Amy Bufford, and Lisa Gandy for work on specific words.

blobject n Product with a curvilinear design 1999 Sept 6 Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch 2E (Lexis-Nexis) Novelist Tom Wolfe, who has written books critical of modern painting and architecture, takes on the subject of commercial and industrial design in Men's Journal. Citing such titans of design as Raymond Loewy (whose credits include Studebaker cars and the Postal Service eagle) and Harley Earl (GM cars), Wolfe complains about designers of "'blobjects,' roundish, childish blob-like objects that now come in every form from the iMac computer to the Mazda Miata, the Ford Taurus and the reborn Volkswagen Beetle. These objects are not meant to be exuberant, much less elegant. The key adjective is childish." Wolfe names names. "The art world's idea of a great designer is the Frenchman Philippe Starck," whose interiors, Wolfe says, look like backdrops for male models, "the ones with the eight-day growth of beard, the hangdog slouch and the glum look of a recovering codeine addict who just flunked out of his 12-step program." Zing! Nov 21 Independent (London) 2 (Lexis-Nexis) say this / blobject / the victory of ergonomics over aesthetics in cases like the Nissan Micra and ibook 2000 Apr 1 Economist...


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pp. 411-423
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Archived 2005
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