Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Word of the year: (drum roll please) bailout…

By kbender
Saturday, January 10th, 2009 at 9:29 am in Uncategorized.

The American Dialect Society has spoken and the word of the year for 2008 is bailout.

In the specific sense used most frequently in 2008, bailout refers to the rescue by the government of companies on the brink of failure, including large players in the banking industry.

But you knew that already.

“When you vote for bailout I guess you’re really voting for ‘hope’ and ‘change,’ too, ” said Grant Barrett, chairman of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society. “Though you’d think a room full of pointy-headed intellectuals could come up with something more exciting.”

Those are Barrett’s words, not mine.

The Word of the Year isn’t necessarily just a word. That would be too simple for the pointy-head intellectuals. It can (and has been) words or phrases.

The word bailout beat out Barack Obama, lipstick on a pig, change, and game changer for the win.

There were other categories too. The most useful words of last year were Barack Obama, while the most unnecessary was moofing, which means “mobile out of office,” or working on the go with a laptop and cell phone. In journalism we sometimes call it MoJo or mobile journalist.

I wanted to pick a word of the year for Berkeley and tossed out some suggestions: “tree sit,” “Pink Ladies,” “unwelcome intruders,” “Dumpster Muffin,” “entombed,” “sustainable,” “public commons,” “inappropriate street behavior,” “carbon footprint, ” “green corridor,” and “solar financing,” but I just couldn’t quite decide.

The word of the week in downtown Oakland last week following the aftermath of the BART shooting was riot. But you knew that already too.

Members in the 119-year American Dialect Society are linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, authors, editors, professors, university students, and independent scholars. In other words, folks who way too much time on their hands.

In conducting the vote, they act in “fun” and do not even try to pretend to be officially inducting words into the English language. That’s good, because who wants to hear bailout or Dumpster Muffin again this year.

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2 Responses to “Word of the year: (drum roll please) bailout…”

  1. TigerTom Says:

    The font is tiny in this article, in my FireFox browser.

  2. eric kampp Says:

    I Eric Kampp have decided to become a lawful citizen and leave my unproductive and criminal ways behind me. Thank you.

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