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OUP poll for representative 21st century word
Posted: 06 October 2007 10:19 PM   [ Ignore ]
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From yesterday’s Guardian.

The Oxford University Press yesterday launched a poll to find “the word which represents the events or the moods of the 21st century”. The poll is for the OUP’s book The Language Report, which draws on the Oxford English Corpus - a database of current language from sources as varied as chat-room conversations and broadsheet newspapers, used by linguists and dictionary-makers as a new tool in charting language change. The Language Report’s own nominations for the best word or phrase include gingerism - prejudice against redheads - and prevenge - getting one’s retaliation in first.

I’d nominate the verb google. Earliest cite in OED is just on the cusp of the new century (Oct, 1999). (It’s interesting to speculate what words might have been nominated a century ago.)

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Posted: 07 October 2007 03:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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A tad early for this sort of thing, wouldn’t you say?

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Posted: 07 October 2007 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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What Faldage said.

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Posted: 07 October 2007 09:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Indications are that ‘global warming’ is going to be a predominant factor (and over-worked phrase) in the 21st C

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Posted: 07 October 2007 11:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Hard to say what word will come into use in the next 100 years.  It’s easier to look back, and even that is daunting.  I would rather try to answer the question; ‘What word or phrase of the last century would you like to see stricken from use?’ My vote would be ‘politically correct’, I’d have thought tact already covered that.

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Posted: 07 October 2007 06:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Dave has an interesting article on politically correct on the Big List.  The modern (late 20th century) meaning is not a synonym to tact. The former is about an orthodoxy of thought and the latter is a positive social habit.

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Posted: 07 October 2007 06:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Tact and political correctness (as understood in the US today) overlap to the extent that they both prohibit the use of ethnic slurs and similarly offensive terms for people in various other groups ("retard", “fag"), which is what I suppose Buff is thinking of, but there’s much more to each of them than that.

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Posted: 08 October 2007 04:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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As a sort of hint at what “politically correct” has come to mean in the USA, there was a syndicated newspaper column which discussed issues of concern to handicapped people.  The writer of the column, in reaction to overly PC descriptions of the handicapped, once referred to them as “the severly euphemized.”

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Posted: 08 October 2007 05:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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This reminds me of back around 1997 or so some outfit produced a list of the top 100 books of the 20th century.  It was a silly list on many levels, but what really struck me about it was the implicit pessimism.

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Posted: 12 October 2007 12:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Well actually it would be interesting to do a casual poll amongst ourselves for the ‘word that represents the events or moods of the 20th century’ - I’m off to have a think.

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Posted: 12 October 2007 01:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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If occasional lurkers warrant a vote, I offer “pensive” to describe the mood of the 21st century.

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Posted: 12 October 2007 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I’ve decided that my first suggestion for the representative 20th century word is ‘social’

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Posted: 12 October 2007 02:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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For the 20th century, I would say “consumer”.  As far as I know, at least in reference to consumerism—it is a 20th century word.  And it captures the spirit of a country where the response of the leader of government to an unprecedented national tragedy is to urge citizens to go shopping.

For the 21st century, I agree that it is way too early to say.

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Posted: 13 October 2007 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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IMHO that’s more of a latter half of the 20th century phenomenon.

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Posted: 13 October 2007 06:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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the spirit of a country where the response of the leader of government to an unprecedented national tragedy is to urge citizens to go shopping

And that was a 21st century event.

For a 20th century representative word, I’d go with anti-imperialism. The century was dominated with the death throes of empires, from Tsarist Russia, imperial Germany, and Austria-Hungary in WWI, to the rise and fall of the Axis powers, to the end of the British empire and European colonialism after WWII, to the Cold War and the long decline of the Soviet Union.

Nationalism might give it a run for its money as well. From the world wars to the post-colonial struggles in the developing world, the expression of national identity was a current that ran throughout the century.

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Posted: 13 October 2007 06:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Perhaps it’ll be a Chinese word!

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