Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Terminology - ADS WOTY!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Each year, for the past 26 years, the American Dialect Society (ADS), founded in 1889, elects the Word of The Year (WOTY, the acronym, for short…), which might perhaps be called the "Wotties". For, the WOTY reigns supreme among nine additional WOTY categories such as:  most useful WOTY, most creative WOTYmost unnecessary WOTY, most euphemistic WOTY, most outrageous WOTY, most likely to succeed WOTY, least likely to succeed WOTY, and the two most recent, 21st century WOTY categories, of most notable #hashtag and most notable emoji. As The New York Times has previously commented: “At the linguistic superbowl, may the best word win!" (Bennett, 2015)

On January 8, 2016, the ADS voted for the pronoun they as WOTY 2015, on the grounds that it is the best “gender-neutral, third-person singular pronoun". Apparently, this use is already quite common in British English, dating as far back as Chaucer, Shakespeare and Jane Austen, and otherwise has obtained quite a few accolades with The Washington Post Style Guide!  

Consider for example the following (from Wikipedia): 
The patient should be told at the outset how much they will be required to pay”. 
It has to be a better alternative to what Zimmer (WSJ - April 2015) calls the clunky use of “he/she”, or “s/he” or “he or she”. And, it has to be a definite improvement on using “he” stand-alone, considered sexist, as the generic singular third person pronoun (The Washington Post - Guo, 2015).

I suppose also that it solves the issue of not being able to use “it” in reference to a single person antecedent.  In any event, you will find more than one contemporary article on the topic of using they as a third-person, gender-neutral (and  gender-fluid) pronoun. 

The WOTY 2015 vote for they was selected from a pool of other words nominated in the WOTY categories such as: 
  •  ammosexual - the love of firearms in a fetishistic manner ; 
  •  berniementum - the momentum behind the candidacy of Bernie Sanders; 
  • CRISPR - gene-editing technology enabling to alter and control DNA sequences; 
  • hoverboard - a self-balancing and motorized skateboard; 
  • UBER for X - a pitch used by start-ups seeking to emulate Uber in various tech sectors",  
and such hashtags as:
  •  “#JesuisParis - an expression of solidarity with Paris after the terrorist attacks, or 
  • #StayWoke, an exhortation to stay vigilant and awake, used by the #BlackLivesMatter movement”.
In previous years the ADS actually introduced hashtags as a valid category of WOTY nomination, and selected #hashtag as the WOTY 2012, and #BlackLivesMatter as the WOTY 2014. 

The ADS has also previously selected app as the WOTY 2010, Occupy as the WOTY 2011, and because as the WOTY 2013.
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Stay tuned to find out which word will be voted the WOTY 2016, when the ADS votes in Jan 2017! đź‘ 


Mechanical Mosquito!... CRISPR?

References
 -     - ADS - American Dialect Society Word of the year (WOTY) list (since 1889!)
http://www.americandialect.org/woty
- ADS WOTY 2014
http://www.americandialect.org/2014-word-of-the-year-is-blacklivesmatter 
      - Bennett, J. (Jan, 2015)- "At the Linguistic superbowl, may the best word win." In The New York Times, Jan. 16, 2015. 
- Guo, J. (Jan, 2015)  “Sorry grammar nerds. The singular “they”  has been declared WOTY”. In The Washington Post,  Jan 8 2015.
- Zimmer, B. (April, 2015) “They the singular pronoun gets popular”. In The Wall Street Journal, April 10,2015 – 

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