Sticks and Stones . . . But Words ~

Sticks and stones
may break my bones –
But words can
never hurt me.
–nursery rhyme

Words! Words! I’m so sick of words!
I get words all day through;
First from him, now from you! Is that all you blighters can do?
Don’t talk of stars Burning above; If you’re in love,
Show me! Tell me no dreams
Filled with desire. If you’re on fire,
Show me!
Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady

There is a group dedicated to studying the English Language of North America. Now, before you think of some stuffy group working in a velvet wall-papered study clouded with ciagr smoke and drinking port and sherry arguing the nuances of potato versus potatoe – nothing could be further from the truth.

This group actually collects current words and then through a voting process nominates and selects word(s) of the year.

Founded in 1889, the American Dialect Society is dedicated to the study of the English language in North America, and of other languages, or dialects of other languages, influencing it or influenced by it. ADS members are linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, historians, grammarians, academics, editors, writers, and independent scholars in the fields of English, foreign languages, and other disciplines. The society also publishes the quarterly journal American Speech.

And I want to announce the word for 2006 —


Earlier this year in a move that caused shudders among textbook publishers and teachers with detailed lesson plans, The General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union removed Pluto as a planet. Downgrading it to a very lowly status.

To quote from the society press release:

to pluto/be plutoed: to demote or devalue someone or something, as happened to the former planet Pluto when the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union decided Pluto no longer met its definition of a planet.

This should be a really fun word to use:

“Boy, there’s a pluto waiting to happen…”
“I got so plutoed last night…”
“So, after he tried a hostile pluto, I pulled a data valdez and ended that grup’s hold…” (using words from the press release)

The American Dialect Society began choosing Words of the Year in 1990. The full release including previous choices may be found by clicking here.(requires adobe acrobat)

Their disclaimer:
Not all words chosen for a particular year are destined to become permanent additions to the vocabulary. Y2K in 1999 and chad in 2000 are examples of prominent terms that faded quickly. An explanation of which words are likely to succeed may be found in Predicting New Words: The Secrets of Their Success by Allan Metcalf, published in 2002 by Houghton Mifflin.

Thanks for sending me the article Donna!