Words

Once again, it’s time for the top words of the year. 2010 was another year full of brand new words and words we’ve just never heard of before. Politics and environmental disasters generated quite a few of these words, but they’re still being used in conversation.

Here is a sampling of some of the top words used in 2010:

Spillcam — the underwater camera used to monitor the oil spill

Refudiate — “refute” + “repudiate” — a word coined by the ever interesting Sarah Palin

Guido — from the popular tv show Jersey Shore

Snowmageddon — after the record snowfall in the US and Europe last winter

Vuvuzela — the horns used in the World Cup Soccer stands

As expected, “twitter”, “H1N1”  and “Obama” were also top contenders.  You can see the whole list and more on language used around the globe at the Global Language Monitor.  There’s also lots of fascinating information on words in general so look around the site.  Maybe you’ll find a word you can start using in everyday conversation.  Go ahead, start a trend!

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Did you know…?

Did you know that the word “are” is the only word in the English language to which you can add one letter and it becomes a 3-syllable word?

Are + A = Area

Did you know that the word “forty” is the only number that when spelled out, has its letters in alphabetical order?

Similarly, did you know that the number “one”, when spelled out, has all of its letters in reverse alphabetical order?

“Stewardesses” is the longest word you can type with one hand (when you type correctly on a QWERTY keyboard).

Just a few things to make you think today!  You can find lots of great examples of remarkable language and number facts right here. Be sure to scroll down the comments list for more!

Are you deepooperit?

We often don’t think about funny words that we use in our day-to-day language, but we certainly use them.  Author Adam Jacot de Boinod has just penned his second book of weird and wonderful words called The Wonder of Whiffling and Other Extraordinary Words in the English Language, the follow-up to The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words From Around the World.

whiffling

In each book, he explains the origins of many of the world’s strangest words, the likes of which will make you giggle.  You might want to check out his interesting and amusing blog as well, where you’ll find fascinating explanations of words from around the globe.

I took the fun quiz that was offered here, based on words from his book and got the fabulous score of one out of ten. (The site called me a jobbernowl….a blockhead…but I refuse to be offended.)  I think I’ll get out my dictionary and do a little studying before I take another quiz like this one, but it was fun anyway.

Urban Dictionary has a few choice words

I don’t pretend to know what young people are talking about today, but I can get along just fine for the most part.  Every so often, and mostly online, I’ll come across a word or phrase that just totally eludes me.  So, off to the Urban Dictionary.

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I must warn you that this “dictionary” is not for the faint of heart, and that many of the entries are rather, shall we say, crass, but it is also a sign of how our world is changing. However, there are a few terms that I can identify with.  Here are a few of my favourites:

#1. FACEBRAG  —  People who use Facebook as a platform to brag about something great in their lives, such as a new job, new car or fabulous vacation. (I will say that someone in my facebook list of friends posts rather often in full-facebrag form and frankly, I’m tired of reading about  how “fabulous” her life is.)

#2.  GD2 —  Stands for the Great Depression 2, which is the economic downturn that we are currently experiencing.

#3.  Parking Karma –  Our head librarian seems to have parking karma, which is the lucky act of always finding a great parking space in a crowded parking area.

So if you want to appear “cool” (hip? groovy? fresh?) to all of the young people in your life, drop by the urban dictionary and pepper your vocabulary with a new term or two.  You might be surprised!

Glottochronology

Planning on traveling into the past?  Have you just discovered a time machine that will bring you back to the days of the caveman?  What will you say to the people you find there or will you be able to communicate at all?  In almost every movie where someone travels to the past, they encounter people and after only minutes, are able to communicate freely with them.  Is this really possible?  Some scientists think it is…to a point.

The study of glottochronology is based on the idea that language changes at a constant average rate which should allow us to be able to trace the changes in language through history, thus making it possible for us to figure out how to “speak” the English language during any part of history.  Does this really work?  It assumes that there are words that essentially do not change, such as “I”, “who”, “two”, “five” and “thou”, and words that will disappear from the language after a short period of time (words in our vocabulary such as “stick”, “dirty”, “guts” and “squeeze”.) So if you do pop back in time, try to avoid those words if you want to fit in with the locals.

Glottochronology Here is an example of a language being traced. (Courtesy of Alexander Bainbridge at his blog TransCaucasus.)

You can read more about the idea right here.

Tip of my tongue

Have you ever felt a word was just at the surface of your brain, on the tip of your tongue, but you couldn’t quite get it?  Or maybe you are in the middle of doing a crossword puzzle and need a little help.   I came across a fun website that just might help called Tip of my Tongue.  You can type in partial words, letters and even definitions and it wil produce a list of possible words.  It doesn’t claim to be able to read your mind, but it might help you get a little peace of mind.

Backyard scrabble anyone?

LIFE HOME-LAWNSCRABBLE 6 AK

I love to play scrabble, but this might be taking it a little far.  Jane and Keith Crane built an 80 foot scrabble board in their backyard out of paving stones laid in sand.  Bonus tiles were hand painted and the actual scrabble tiles were made from craft store wood.  Old shelves found a new life to hold each player’s tiles during the game.

LIFE HOME-LAWNSCRABBLE 4 AK

LIFE HOME-LAWNSCRABBLE 2 AK

LIFE HOME-LAWNSCRABBLE 5 AK

LIFE HOME-LAWNSCRABBLE 3 AK

I guess you’d get a bit of exercise for the body as well as the brain! (I like how they worked in some of the name of the newspaper that was covering this piece.)

(All pictures courtesy of Ken Love / Akron Beacon Journal).