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'Google' crowned word of the decade

Epic linguistic fail

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The American Dialect Society has crowned the verb "google" as its Word of the Decade, while honouring "tweet" as its 2009 Word of the Year.

Mercifully, the "linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, authors, editors, professors, university students and independent scholars" who vote on the matter "act in fun and do not pretend to be officially inducting words into the English language".

Which is just as well, since google saw off strong opposition from "blog". Grant Barrett, chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society, said: “I really thought blog would take the honors in the word of the decade category, but more people google than blog, don’t they? Plus, many people think ‘blog’ just sounds ugly. Maybe Google's trademark lawyers would have preferred it, anyway.”

Other contenders for the Word of the Decade were "text" (SMS), "9/11" and "Wi-Fi", while CBS describes "un-" as the "decade's dominant prefix".

Doubtless there are those who consider words such as "unfriend" a good example of epic "fail", and they'll be delighted to learn that the American Dialect Society considers the "noun or interjection used when something is egregiously unsuccessful" as the "Most Useful" term of the last ten years.

Chillingly, American Dialect Society executive council member Ben Zimmer told CBS that "un-" represents "a metaphor for the decade". He offered: "It extends into social relations. It has big social ramifications because the whole concept of friendship is changing."

Other high points gracing the society's press release (pdf) include "Any name of the decade 2000-2009, such as Naughties, Aughties, Oughties", considered the "Least Likely to Succeed".

Agreeably, PETA can also take a bow for spawning the choice of "Most Unnecessary" term with "sea kittens", an unlikely appellation for what people generally call "fish". ®

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