So it's that time of year again, when various wordsmith(y) organizations set about to picking the word of the year. As scientific endeavours go, it's questionable, but often revealing.
But the English language keeps churning out new words - according to the Global Language Monitor, which tracks new entries with a web search, we're now at 1,007, 711. But we'll make it easy for you - and to give you some fun holiday verbiage to try out on the visiting relatives. Here's a sampling of this years winners.
Refudiate : Chosen by the people at the new Oxford American Dictionary, this word doesn't even appear in its pages. It was the invention of Sarah Palin, who used it in several tweets and interviews this year, like this one:
"Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn't it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate."
We give Ms. Palin points for moxie - when it was pointed out to her that refudiate wasn't technically a word, she said, "Shakespeare liked to coin new words too."
Big Society : On the other side of the pond, the Oxford University Press chose this phrase, coined by British Prime Minister David Cameron. It's a political concept, according to the dictionary staff, in which running society is largely left to local communities and volunteers.
Niveaulimbo : If you want to sound really hip (and cosmopolitan), the word voted most popular by Germany's youth literally mean "limbo level," a reference to the dumbing down of television shows and party chat. According to The virtual linguist blog, the second-place entry was "arschfax," referring to the underwear label that shows when you wear your pants low.
Tentsletje : Translated literally to "tent slut," this word was the top pick among a survey of 20,000 Belgian Dutch speakers. It refers to a woman who has multiple sex partners at a music festival, and, according to the Telegraph, it's actually an official entry in the Flemish dictionaries, with an old school definition about "festive meadows" and "tents."
Extra credit : If you want to bug your holiday guests, you may want to pepper your chatter with "whatever," which according to one American survey earned the honours as the Most Irritating Word of the Year, for the second year in a row.
For trend-setters: the Global Language Monitor has also predicted the top words of 2011. Check it out here.
Some samplings include: Twenty-Eleven, Obama-mess, and Parseltongue (the last being a Harry Potter reference to talking in snake-speak.)
No Canadian surveys that we can find. So we'll put it you, good readers. Please send your suggestions for Canada's 2010 Word of the Year. Kakaboulet, if we don't hear from you. They can be as "niveaulimbo" as you'd like.