The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'neologism'
Arika Okrent, author of In The Land Of Invented Languages, has a survey of neologisms of the year from various countries:
In the Netherlands, the Van Dale dictionary group chose dagobertducktaks, “Scrooge McDuck tax,” a tax on the super rich. The “youth language” category choice was aanmodderfakker (someone with no ambition in life, from a blend of aanmodderen, “muddle,” and motherf***er).
Médicalmant, a word for a medicine taken to in order to calm down (a blend of médicament, “drug,” and calmant, “soothing”) was selected word of the year at the annual XYZ Festival of New Words in Le Havre
The Fundéu BBVA, a Madrid organization tasked with the protection of the purity of the Spanish language, made selfi, without the English e, the word of the year. Previous suggestions such as autofoto and autorretrato (self-portrait) had failed to catch on, so the spelling change to selfi seemed the next best option. Other candidates were amigovio (blend of amigo, “friend,” and novio, “boyfriend/girlfriend,” for “friends with benefits”) and impago (successfully replacing “default” in discussion of the economy).Elsewhere in the list, a few themes recur: the younger generation's attachment to their mobile phones gives rise to the German neologism Generation Kopf unten (“generation head down”); members of this generation may be at risk of what the Norwegians call mobilnakke, mobile neck. Meanwhile, the Swedish Language Council's list of words included fotobomba (to intrude into someone else's selfi) and klickfiske (“click-fishing”, i.e., what viral content sites engage in). On the other side of the Öresund Bridge, political issues such as hverdagssexisme (“everyday sexism”) and madspild (“food waste”) were the order of the day, while Portugal tackled the social implications of technology, from gamificação (gamification), to cibervadiagem (“cyberslacking”). And apparently in Finland, the word of 2014 was Putin-juusto (“Putin-cheese”), referring to Finnish cheese intended for the Russian market, knocked back because of import bans and sold at a steep discount all over Finland, with Cyrillic lettering still on the packaging.
English, meanwhile, had fairly mundane ones; the OED chose “vape” (relating to electronic nicotine inhalers), while Merriam-Webster's choice of “culture”, seemingly mundane, reflected the mainstreaming of anthropological thinking about collective human behaviour (in the sense of “company culture” or “rape culture”). And Australia had “shirtfront”, a testament to the virility of its elected leader.
This year's crop of pre-Christmas advertising in London includes campaigns from various charities, suggesting that people buy, as gifts for their loved ones, items of aid for people in developing countries. Oxfam's version of this campaign, titled "Famously Funusual Gifts", seemed particularly strained:
Other than "funusual" being a somewhat cringeworthy neologism, it is also inaccurate. One can say a lot of good things about giving someone a certificate that their gift was a goat for an African village or a combination children's playground and water pump: it can be worthy, enlightened, socially aware, and, yes, unusual. However, to say it is "fun" is somewhat of a stretch. One might get a lot of satisfaction, a feeling of wellbeing or worthiness, or (more uncharitably) a smug sense of moral and cultural superiority over the Sun-reading philistines who merely got a new plasma-screen TV for Christmas; however, none of these emotions are usually classified as "fun". Even if the certificate one gets in lieu of a present is set in Comic Sans and festooned with quirky cartoons.
This use of "fun" sounds like a potential neologism in the making; perhaps we will see the meaning of "fun" change to refer to something that's not particularly enjoyable though one is obliged, by social pressure, to grin and bear it and pretend that it is in order to keep up appearances of worthiness or superiority. ("This village toilet is the best gift ever; so much better than a Nintendo Wii.") Eventually, the implicit sarcasm will seep into the word "fun", and its original meaning will go the way of other words like "gay" and "special": "That sounds totally fun. Let's go do something else instead."
Lake Superior State University's annual list of banished words is out, listing various words or phrases which came into wide usage over the past year, and should bloody way come out of it. They include obvious ones ("metrosexual", "bling-bling" and the endemic use of "X" in product names), war-related jargon ("embedded journalist", "shock and awe") and miscellaneously annoying or pedantic coinages, like "companion animals" or "hand-crafted latte":
We're not sure where Orin Hargraves of Westminster, Maryland discovered this beauty, but we agreed with his assertion that "This compound is an insult to generations of skilled craftspeople who have mustered the effort and discipline to create something beautiful by hand. To apply 'hand-crafted' to the routine tasks of the modern-day equivalents of soda jerks cheapens the whole concept of handicraft."
"I'm just waiting on 'Shock and Awe Laundry Soap' or maybe 'Shock and Awe Pool Cleaner,'" says Joe Reynolds of Conroe, Texas.