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American Speech 78.2 (2003) 228-232

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Among the New Words

Wayne Glowka, Megan Melançon, and Danielle C. Wyckoff
Georgia College & State University

The festivities for choosing the Words of the Year are usually a media event of some proportion, but we overdid ourselves this year in Atlanta when a news crew flown in from New York and Boston produced a nearly five-minute report on our meetings for airing on CBS News Sunday Morning on 5 January 2003. After such coverage, we were jaded in our excitement over the widely circulated Associated Press story and the radio interviews for stations from Seattle to London.

All of the details concerning the nominations and the balloting for the WOTYs can be found in NADS (35.1 [Jan. 2003]: 6). The words in this installment are the winners in the various categories:

MOST CREATIVE: Iraqnophobia
MOST UNNECESSARY: wombanization
MOST EUPHEMISTIC: regime change
WORD (OR PHRASE) OF THE YEAR: weapons of mass destruction

Although the rubric for Words of the Year specifies that they be new or newly prominent, the competition held at the annual meeting of the American Dialect Society occasionally tests the limits of that specification. Prophetically perhaps, "Among the New Words" has already offered entries for GOOGLE (77 [2002]: 435-36) and NEUTICLES (78 [2003]: 100). We were not surprised, however, to find out that though important in 2002, regime change and WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION are new only in relative terms. With our resources, we have been able to date the first to 1971 (and someone else without our deadline could perhaps find much earlier examples) and the second to 1946. Members of the ADS detected something euphemistic in uses of regime change by the Bush administration in 2002, but given the negative connotations of regime (Americans would variously recoil at phrases like the Clinton regime or the Bush regime) and the implications of violence (whether from internal or external sources) necessary to bring about an effective regime change, we wonder how much euphemism there was in the use of the phrase by members of an American [End Page 228] administration hoping that the threat of imminent war would incite Iraqis to rise up on their own against Saddam Hussein—a hope that was never realized. Regime change may be applied to a sports team with some humorous exaggeration; in politics and government, the same phrase darkly implies some bloodletting.

Nominations and citations for these terms came from John Algeo, Adele Algeo, Chris Ammer, John Baker, "Davemarc," David K. Barnhart, "Graham," Gerry Hurley, Mark A. Mandel, Paul McFedries, Mike Melançon, Michael Quinion, and W. R. Walters. Some terms were nominated by more than one person, and we apologize to anyone who made a winning nomination but now fails to see his or her name in our list.

blog [Web + log] 1: n Personal Web site full of commentaries, some of which concern the mundane events of the site owner's life and offer links to other sites of interest to the site owner 2000 May 16 Doug Bedell San Diego Union-Tribune Computer Link 8 (Dallas Morning News; Lexis-Nexis) They are called weblogs—blogs for short. In the space of a mere two years, this new breed of Web site has begun changing the way Net denizens navigate through the Internet's sometimes mind-boggling info-clutter. . . . Blogs are enigmatic. Not even those who created this growing genre can agree on a definition. . . . But one thing is certain: These personal, energetic, heavily linked commentary pages have struck a resounding chord with Web surfers seeking alternative but reliable guides through the tangled jungle of Internet news, entertainment and general e-silliness. "You know how people nudge each other and say, 'Holy crap! Get a load of that!'," says Derek Powazek, award-winning designer of Fray, Kvetch and other smart Web sites. [fl] "That's what a weblog does." [fl] The explanation seemed to sit as well as any with an audience gathered recently for...


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pp. 228-232
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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Archived 2005
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