'Google' is American Dialect Society's Word of the Decade

By January 11, 2010

Technology drives the astounding pace of contemporary language change, so it’s hardly surprising that most landmark words today come out of tech. That and the fact that this industry is responsible for the production of 9/10s of the world’s neologisms. No matter what, 2009's top words came from tech. The American Dialect Society’s word of the decade is ‘google,’ and ‘tweet’ is the ADS’s word of the year. “Both words are, in the end, products of the Information Age, where every person has the ability to satisfy curiosity and to broadcast to a select following, both via the Internet,” said Grant Barrett, chair of the New Words Committee at the American Dialect Society.

“I really thought blog would take the honors in the word of the decade category, but more people google than blog, don’t they?” Barrett said. “Plus, many people think ‘blog’ just sounds ugly. Maybe Google’s trademark lawyers would have preferred it, anyway.”

Other techy ‘word of the decade' candidates were ‘blog’,’ green’, ‘text’ and ‘Wi-Fi.’ The ADS’s list is also interesting because it considers word parts which have become prominent in usage (like the suffix ‘-er’ used in such 2009 concoctions as 'birther.’). One of the society’s ‘most useful word' candidates was the prefix ‘-un,’ examples of which all come from social networking (unfriend, unfollow, unlike, unfavorite, untag).

The year’s most useful word was ‘fail.’

The society’s name of the year for 2009 was “Salish Sea,” a body of water off the state of Washington.

For anyone who loves language, I highly recommend reading the PDF that accompanies the ADS’s press release, as it includes a full resume of the trendy words of the decade.

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