Mighty Red Pen

January 14, 2011

Vuvuzela: Robbed in 2010

Filed under: Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 7:35 pm

The dust has settled on the whole Word of the Year 2010, and I’m deeply disappointed to say that no one seems to have given vuvuzela the coveted WOTY prize (well, except for MRP). But here’s a couple of the more notable ones:

  • Oxford University Press USA got the party started with refudiate, the word everyone loves to hate. (This would be a good time to share the excellent post by Stan Carey at Sentence First, “‘Not a word’ is not an argument.”)
  • Merriam-Webster dictionary called austerity their WOTY. “What we look for … what are the words that have had spikes that strike us very much as an anomaly for their regular behavior,” [president and publisher John] Morse said. “The word that really qualifies this year for that is ‘austerity’.”
  • Geoff Nunberg elevated no to the status of WOTY. Frankly, I thought this was a relief after reading he thought crotchal was a contender for the prize.
  • In the On Language column, Ben Zimmer proposed junk as WOTY 2010. He gives many compelling examples of the ways in which this word is used, from junk status to junk food. For me, I’m not sure I can get behind a word that can be used to describe both a man’s nether parts and a well-endowed female bottom. Too confusing.
  • Erin McKean chimes in with “The Year in Language: The Best and Worst of 2010,” which includes, among other things, a refresher on the pronunciation of Eyjafjallajökull. Hey, it might be useful to know that again someday.

So these were all very nice, very useful words. But none of them was vuvuzela. Well, better luck next year.

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