Linguists vote 'app' Word of the Year

2011-01-08 07:45

Pittsburgh - The tech slang "app" was voted the 2010 "Word of the Year" Friday by the American Dialect Society, beating out Cookie Monster's "nom, nom, nom, nom."

The shortened slang term for a computer or smart phone application was picked by the linguists group as the word that best sums up the country's preoccupation last year.

"Nom" - a chat-, tweet-, and text-friendly syllable that connotes "yummy food" - was the runner-up. It derives from the Sesame Street character's sound as he devours his favorite food.

The vote came at a Pittsburgh hotel ballroom during the national conference of the Linguistic Society of America, an umbrella group that includes the Dialect Society. About 120 of the 1 000 conference attendees voted in the "competition" with neither side entirely satisfied.

Critics of "app" said the word was somewhat stale, while proponents said 2010 was the year the word became omnipresent - with one arguing that her elderly mother knows the term, even though the woman doesn't have any apps.

"Nom" supporters simply liked it's cheeriness.

"Some years there's a very clear choice," said Allan Metcalf, the Dialect Society's executive secretary.

In 2001, for instance, the Word of the Year was 9/11.

"I think this past year there wasn't anything clearly dominant," Metcalf said. "But there's no question 'app' is a very powerful word."

Not always serious

Though the "Word Of The Year" is perhaps the best known item on the national conference agenda, it's hardly the most serious. The program includes discussion of such subjects as school curriculum and raising education standards.

And that's one reason Metcalf said the "Word Of The Year" isn't universally popular among the conferees.

"But, on the other hand, it attracts a lot of attention to our work," he said.

Anyone could nominate a "Word of the Year" by e-mail or Twitter, using links on americandialect.com.

"Tweet" and "Google" were last year's "Word of the Year" and "Word of the Decade."

As with "app," tech terms have been among the most popular since the group started the competition in 1990. Some previous winners include "millennium bug" (1997), "information superhighway" (1993), and "web" (word of the 1990s).

Web words are so popular that even the techie prefix "e" - as in e-mail - won in 1998.

When the Internet doesn't hold sway, current events or politics tend to dominate. Listed among nominees on the group's website were "tea bagger," "Palinism" and the Palinism "refudiate." On Friday, voters chose to nix political terms altogether, including "Obamacare" and "mama grizzly" - yes, yet another Palinism, referring to conservative women who are protective of their families.

The inaugural winner, in 1990, was Bushlips, defined as "insincere political rhetoric" an apparent reference to President George HW Bush's broken "Read my lips, no new taxes!" promise. Chad, as in "hanging," was 2000's word after the contested victory by Bush's son, and 2002's winner was also taken from a pair of Bush lips: WMD, as in "weapons of mass destruction."

BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico spawned many 2010 nominees, but none made the final cut, not even "spillion," defined as an immeasurable number, in reference to the billions of gallons of oil that spilled into the waters.

- AP

NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia C3

The Nokia C3 Features a 2+ Megapixel Camera, A2DP, Bluetooth,...

From R1175.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.