Sep 7, 2009

WORD OF THE WEEK: Sign (Language) of the Times

Happy Labor Day! After a feast with my in-laws today (following yesterday's requisite yard work), I casually perused the internet, looking for a Word of the Week that would allow me to re-address that newbie 'net word pwn from a couple of weeks ago. What I found—a list of New Words for 2009 on—really jumped out at me: From acai to zip line, the newest dictionary additions speak volumes about what's important or timely in American culture.

But it was some of the words in between that really made me think. Environmentally related words and phrases like carbon footprint, green collar, and locavore (LO-ka-VORE—one who eats locally grown food as often as possible) show a shift in the devil-may-care attitude about the planet that was so prevalent in the Twentieth Century. There are health-related words, like cardioprotective, naproxen, neuroprotective, pharmacogenetics, and phyisatry, that show how proactive we've become about our health care. Our fascination with electronic entertainment, as well as with celebrity, are reflected in such hot new terms as fan fiction, flash mob, frenemy, vlog and webisode. Our global connections are reinforced with the induction of foreign words: goji, haram, reggaeton. Even the economic recession is addressed in something as simple as staycation (stay-KA-SHUN—a vacation spent at home or nearby; possibly popular, I'm assuming, with locavores).

I could go on even more about these newly-added words, but I'll let you look and decide for yourself. What jumps out at you when you read the list?

One more note: Thanks to my friend Chad, who happens to work as a beta-tester for gaming companies (and thanks, too, to a little help from television), I've learned that there are a couple of ways to pronounce pwn: PONE or POON. And there's also a secondary definition, that of a newcomer to a multi-player online game. Whether in its verb form ("I pwned you that round!") or its noun form ("You don't know what you're doing, you pwn"), it's still always an insult. And that's yet another reason for keeping up with the latest language of the times!

© KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

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