Friday, December 19, 2008


Not very long ago, as you may or may not care to remember, the folks over at the New Oxford American Dictionary had proclaimed "hypermiling" to be the Word of the Year for 2008. Again, as you may or may not care to remember, hypermiling is the practice of trying to squeeze the maximum miles per gallon out of your vehicle by doing things such as driving without shoes (and, from my experience driving behind morons who I assume to be attempting this, driving 15-20 miles per hour below the speed limit. On the freeway. In the far left lane. And always, always in front of ME! That last one there is, apparently, a pre-requisite for anyone hypermiling. You must be in front of me AND I must be in a hurry. Yep, without those, you're just wasting your own time and none of mine.).

But I assumed that the Word of the Year was just that. THE word of the year. I didn't know that there was more than one Word of the Year. Doesn't having more than one Word of the Year automatically devalue the entire Word of the Year honor? I think it does. It really can't even be called Word of the Year, as that implies just one and there would appear to be more than one. One of the Words of the Year would be more appropriate. And you'd think that, since this is coming from a bunch of "word folks" that they would want the definition of what a Word of the Year actually is to match with it being just one word. But they don't seem to care. (And I've got news for them. Not a lot of other people care either. I do, but I hardly make up the majority. Thank God.)

The Merriam-Webster (which happens to be my favorite Webster. Right ahead of that little guy int he 80s sitcom) Dictionary has released their Word of the Year. It's not as bad as "hypermiling", but at least it is a word. The MWDWOTY is......(insert drum roll here)........(All right, knock it off. You can't even play the drums, can you? Gimme those sticks!)........bailout. Wait. That's it?

That's it. Bailout. Your 2008 Word of the Year courtesy of Merriam-Webster's Dictionary. A little anti-climactic, eh? I felt the same way. But the folks over there at the ol' MW are pretty happy about it. (Their job is the dictionary. They get excited when it's 1:15 in the afternoon.) They say that they determine the word of the year "....based on users' anonymous hits to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary and Online Thesaurus." And then the word "that received the highest intensity of lookups over the shortest period of time" is the winner and subsequent Word of the Year. Congratulations to you, "bailout".

According to a one John Morse who is the president and publisher of Merriam-Webster Inc., "This year's presidential campaign produced voluminous hits for words like 'vet,' 'bipartisan,' 'misogyny,' and the word used to describe both candidates on the Republican ticket, 'maverick.' " ('Voluminous' strangely absent on list of words garnering many searches.)

OK, wait a minute. Was 'misogyny' used frequently this year? I don't recall misogyny, a hatred for women, in the press all that often. And I am scouring the press daily (usually only to be disappointed at finding stories about long lost cats that have returned home, idiots in Florida assaulting other idiots with food products and many other products of craptastic journalism. It's crapalism.). I would recall if I saw a surge in 'misogyny' being used. Great. Now, not only is Merriam-Webster making up the whole Word of the Year thing to begin with (there isn't an official word of the year. What if I announced my own word of the year?! Would it hold any less weight than that of Merriam-Webster? Why, yes! It would. A considerable amount less! But it shouldn't! Because really, without an official Word of the Year, they're all the same.)

So, yeah, they also had a list of the 9 other 'also rans' for the MWDWOTY. Do you care any more than I do? I doubt it. But what about the Word of the Year in other countries? Now there is some intrigue for ya!

  • Taiwan - Luan. Luan means chaos. In Taiwan, the WOTY is chosen by the people via a telephone voting system. (I'm picturing something similar to that of American Idol, because if it's good enough for Paula Abdul, it's good enough for Taiwan.)

  • The Netherlands - Swaffelen. Ready for this? First of all, the Dutch are blaming this one on the English language, saying that it's "on loan". Uh-huh. Sure it is. Must be pretty bad if you're blaming English for it. (Actually, they can blame the voters, as the WOTY is left up to a vote by the people. I'm sure that whoever was in charge of this thing is seriously reconsidering that aspect of it.) "Swaffelen" is not for everyone. In fact, it's only for men, as they're the only ones who can do it. (Do you see where this is going? Straight to hell, that is correct.) The definition of "swaffelen" is "to swing one's penis, making it bump against something, in order to stimulate either oneself or someone else." Um....what? I can't believe that there is an "or" in that definition. "No, personally, I don't feel the need to be stimulated by swinging my penis around. But I could stimulate YOU with it! Come over here and I'll begin a-swaffelen for ya!" Really, all this does is beg the question, "My God, how long are penises in the Netherlands?"

  • Japan - Hen. No, not the chicken. "Hen" means "change" in English. As in, "Please change the pronunciation of "change" in Japan so it does not sound like a chicken." The runners up for Japan's WOTY were "kin", which means "gold" and "raku", which seems to mean "relief or peace".

  • Germany - Gammelfleischparty. Apparently that literally means "spoiled meat party", but in Germany it is "an unflattering term for a gathering of people over 30." Lovely! Just lovely! Oh, and what the hell?! It would seem that earlier in the year the word "gammelfleisch" (pretty, isn't it?) was in the news quite a bit when it was "...discovered that meat packers had been regularly supplying some kebab restaurants with past-due products." Ahhhh. I thought so! I thought that the kebab restaurants of Germany would be involved with this one somehow! (I'll give the Germans credit for having the most amusing WOTYs. In second place was the word "Bildschirmbraeune" which means "screen tan" as it refers to "...the complexion of someone who spends too much time at a computer." And in third place was "unterhopft," which means "underhopped," or "in need of a beer." Well, then! I am frequently "unterhopft!" I'm "unterhopft" right now!

  • Germany (Yes. Again! Seems the word above was the German Youth WOTY. This is the German-German WOTY.) - "Finanzkrise." A financial crisis. No where near as fun as a spoiled meat party. Second place went to "verzockt" which means "squandered" and rounding out their top ten in tenth place was (and I am not kidding) "Yes, we can!" Of course, loosely translated, that means "We will elect Barack Obama as President of the US and then be completely surprised when our lives are still the same!" VERY loosely translated.

  • Austria - "Lebensmensch." Although the word traditionally describes a close, important friendship, it has been given a more intimate meaning over there in Austria, that of a public acknowledgement of a homosexual relationship. Go Austria! (The term for that in the US was going to be Proposition 8, but...well...that didn't go so well.)

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