D-day for word of the year


At last the moment has arrived to determine the ultimate Word of the Year 2014.

Others have already announced their choices.The Oxford Dictionaries liked vape, having to do with smokeless cigarettes. Merriam-Webster chose culture because the word was so often looked up on its website. Dictionary.com chose exposure. And the Global Language Monitor, noticing how frequently theheart-shaped emoji was used throughout the world, proclaimed that symbol as its word of the year.

Individuals announced choices too. Geoffrey Nunberg of Stanford University chose God view, the aerial map used by the Uber car service. And Dennis Baron of the University of Illinois announced < a href=\”http://illinois.edu/blog/view/25/119470?displayType=month&displayMonth=201412\” target=\”_blank\”>torture as his choice for 2014 (and while he was at it, proclaimed autocorrect the word of the year for 2015).

So much for the preliminaries. The ultimate choice is taking place in Portland on Thursday and Friday, at the annual meeting of the American Dialect Society together with the Linguistic Society of America.

To be specific, on Thursday at 6:15 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, in a room on the top floor of the Hilton Portland, the ADS Committee on New Words will meet to choose nominees for the final vote the next day. This is the way the hundreds of nominees can be reduced to a manageable number.

The committee, chaired by Ben Zimmer of Vocabulary.com, will produce a ballot for the final vote, consisting of three or four nominees in seven or eight categories. The final vote will take place on Friday at 5:30 p.m., in a session open to members of ADS and LSA and friends, usually several hundred in all.

The voters have the solemn duty to decide which one of all the possibilities should be the official choice. Before the vote in each category, 30-second statements pro or con are invited. Then comes the vote by show of hands. Last of all the Word of the Year is chosen the same way.

The meeting is far from solemn, because the advocates are witty and the choice, after all, is harmless. No person or animal was harmed in choosing Word (or Phrase, or prefix, or emoticon) of the Year.

If you can’t make it to the meeting, you can still participate. All year long nominations have been invited; see the American Dialect Society website. Results of the voting will also be posted there.

But as the deadline nears, you can post a nomination right here in the comments. Just name the word, and give a very short reason why it should be chosen. If you post it before Thursday night’s nominating meeting, I’ll bring it to that meeting.

For example: selfie, because it’s more prevalent than ever this year, and because it so well captures the altruistic selfishness of the millennial generation.

OK? Your turn!