Those groups, usually dictionary groups, that come up with the words of the year seem to be trying very hard to outdo each other.
The Oxford people have come up not with a word but with an emoji.
Okay, so you want to know what an emoji is.
It’s a bit difficult to explain, but to me an emoji is something like those little things that people put at the end of some emails.
An emoji might be a sad face, or a happy face, or some other type of face, or not even a face at all.
But how can an emoji – any emoji -- be the word of the year? A face is not even a word. Some people described it as a picturegraph.
I had thought the people at Oxford would not allow themselves to reach this level, but I was wrong.
At least they didn’t decide that w00t was their word, as the Merrian Webster group decided a few years back. I have never seen w00t used as a word before or since, but I admit I have led a sheltered life, so that might be the reason.
The Merrian-Webster people, from the USA but the list was from the UK and the USA, decided w00t was “a small word that packs a pretty big punch”.
Why can’t they just stick with words? They didn’t decide on the picturegraph of the year. Maybe they have run out of words. We need another Shakespeare.
I can tell you all about a smiling face or an unhappy face at the end of emails, but what’s the point?
The Oxford people said the picturegraph was included “for the first time ever”. Why the word “ever”? Let’s hope it is for the last time ever. Some people have already described the emoji as ridiculous in a quest for the word of the year.
They topped their list of people including emojis with Hillary Clinton. The list even included Dominos Pizza. Make of that what you will.
The Oxford people said the emoji “best reflected the ethos, mood and preoccupations of 2015”. So if you haven’t used it during the past year, you should have.
Words that made the short list included refugee, they (a person of unspecified sex) and even lumbersexual, a young urban male who adopts the style of dress that makes him out to be the rugged outdoor type.
Some other dictionary groups have yet to announce their words of the year, but let’s hope the list doesn’t include another emoji, or even a w00t.
What are some of the words from years past?
Some people thought flapper should have been chosen as the word of the year in 1915, but the idea of dictionaries choosing a word of the year did not start until about 1990.
Macquarie has chosen expressions such as binge watching, bamboo ceiling and life hacking.
It also included, mansplain (“it assumes that a woman will be ignorant of the subject matter”). I didn’t say it. That’s what the Macquarie people said.
One of the most relevant, if unusual, words was the American Dialect Society’s bushlips, as in George W. Bush’s comment “read my lips”.
Maverick made it in 2008. This was the subject for one of my columns in 1995.
My mother used to say “because”. That word covered all eventualities.
I have just noticed that most of the words have little red lines under them as I type them on my computer. Does that mean they still aren’t recognised by the world’s dictionaries?