Word Up

January 2008 - It won't be long now. The suspense that has been building since January '07 will soon be broken. In just a few short weeks, we will know. The American Dialect Society will, in early January '08, with as much fanfare as it can muster, announce its choice for Word of the Year 2007.

Those crazy kids at the ADS have been choosing Words of the Year since 1991, when they selected "bushlips" as 1990's WOTY. I can't say I've ever heard anyone use it in a sentence, but I gather it's a reference to the infamous "read my lips" quote from Bush 41. That same year, they also chose "politically correct" or "PC" as the "most outrageous" word of 1990. Seems like maybe they got things a little backward, but it was their first try so we'll give them a pass.

They pressed on. In 2000, linguistic lunacy prevailed as these lovers of language not only picked a Word of the Year for 1999 ("Y2K"), but they went ahead and also chose a Word of the 1990's Decade ("web"), a Word of the 20th Century ("jazz"), and a Word of the Past Millennium ("she" which narrowly beat out the more gender-neutral "science").

Anyway, after all that craziness, things settled down a little. The past two WOTY winners have been "truthiness" in 2005 and "plutoed" in 2006. That year was especially exciting as "plutoed" was chosen only after a runoff with the equally obscure "climate canary." That phrase, however, did not go home empty-handed. It was chosen as the "most useful" word of 2006. Now if they could only get someone to actually use it ...

What will they come up with for 2007? Well, I've been thinking, and here's the best I can come up with: i.

I know! It's short. It's simple. It's a vowel. If I had a vote, which I don't - but, if I did - I would vote for the 2007 Word of the Year to be i (italics optional, but recommended).

Even though it's more of a prefix than a word, I think i is deserving because, these days, i is everywhere. You can't go anywhere without seeing someone listening to music on an i-Pod or talking on an i-Phone. If you see news happening, you can take a picture or video with your i-Phone and send it to i-Report at CNN or to i-Witness Reports at one of the local stations in Harrisburg. (What's funny about that is that, for a while, a competing station in Harrisburg used the branding "Eyewitness News").

In general, I suppose that i is short for "interactive," but it also represents the personalization - the pandering to I, to you, to me - that technology increasingly breeds. MSNBC does not use the i prefix for its citizen journalist submissions. No, they call it "first person." Same difference.

So, anyway, i gets my unofficial, uncounted vote for 2007 Word of the Year. What gets yours? The 2007 Word of the year will be chosen on Friday, January 4.