Sunday 19 November 2017

Google named 'word of the decade'

Andrew Hough

Google, the verb that spawned a word on how to search for information, has been voted the word of the decade by a group of American speech scholars.

The word “tweet”, derived from sending a short message via Twitter (noun) and the act of sending such a message (verb) was the top word of 2009, the American Dialect Society (ADS) said.

In its annual Word of the Year vote, the society said the use of the word Google, a verb which means to “to search the Internet", came because almost everybody in the world uses the term today.

Other finalists for this year’s Word of the Decade included “9/11”, "Facebook", “blog”, “text”, “Wi-Fi” and “war on terror”.

Nominees for Word of the Year were the suffix “-er”, “fail”, “H1N1” (the virus that causes swine flu) and “Dracula sneeze”, which is covering one’s mouth with the crook of one’s elbow when sneezing.

"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,” Grant Barrett, chair of the society's new words committee, said of the winning words.

“I really thought 'blog' would take the honours 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 words, chosen by vote at the society’s 20th annual session in Baltimore earlier this month, have to be “newly prominent or notable in the past year”.

According to the society, a group of scholars who study the English language and other languages and dialects in the United States, the word of the year is a “vocabulary item” not just words, but generally phrases.

“The words or phrases do not have to be brand new, but they have to be newly prominent or notable in the past year. In this sense, the society emulates the manner of Time magazine’s Person of the Year,” it said.

The 119 year-old society said members included linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, authors, editors, professors, university students, and independent scholars.

“In conducting the vote, they act in fun and do not pretend to be officially inducting words into the English language,” it added.

Other recent word winners have included bailout in 2008 and subprime in 2007.

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