Sunday, January 06, 2008

On fun words of 2007

This year's "word of the year" was apparently subprime.

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Even the American Dialect Society knows how risky home mortgages are these days.

The group of wordsmiths chose "subprime" as 2007's Word of the Year at its annual convention Friday.

"'Subprime' has been around with bankers for awhile, but now everyone is talking about 'subprime,"' said Wayne Glowka, a spokesman for the group and a dean at Reinhardt College in Waleska, Georgia. "It's affecting all kinds of people in all kinds of places."

About 80 members of the organization spent two days debating the merits of runners-up "Facebook," "green," "Googleganger" and "waterboarding" before voting for an adjective that means "a risky or less than ideal loan, mortgage or investment."

The choice signifies the public's concern for a "deepening mortgage crisis," the society said in a statement.

"Facebook," as a noun, verb or adjective, was popular with younger linguists, Glowka said.

One of the thing the article noted is that some of these slang terms have been around for some time. "Facebooking" and "friending" have been part of the college lingo since at least 2004. "Green" is as old as the hills, or at least as old as the hippies.

But what is HOT is a different question. Facebook is massive right now - lots of forty-somethings have accounts, as well as most middle schoolers. CNN even had a story of a guy who called in sick, and was outed by Facebook photos (here). In Canada, the police tried in vain to keep people from discussing the names of two underage homicide suspects, but everyone was writing about it on Facebook.

I know people who advertise yard sales and parties on Facebook, but also small businesses. I posted wedding pics (as did my sister and brother-in-law), my friends posted pictures of their newborns, and those of us who broke up found plenty of ways to use Facebook info to share that with the world.

I'm reminded of an exchange from Shakespeare in Love:
Nurse: It is a new day.
Gwyneth Paltrow: It is a new world.


At 8:26 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're correct in your assessment of the facebook generation. for as many doors that it opens (and it does), it also creates significant, and unnecessary, problems.


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