And the award for best word goes to . . .

January marks the culmination of “word awards season”—when dictionary publishers announce their selections for their words of the year. For 2013, Oxford University Press named selfie; Merriam-Webster named science; and named privacy.

There is another organization that names a word of the year—an organization you may have never heard of. This 125-year-old organization unites word nerds of all types and was naming a word of the year before it was cool—the American Dialect Society.

For 2013, the society chose because as its word of the year. Not the conjunction, but a new form of the word used to introduce a noun, adjective, or other part of speech, as in the headline “The Senate changes its rules, because politics.” Because beat out Obamacare, slash, selfie, and twerk.

Words of the Year are voted on by the American Dialect Society’s membership of linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, editors, students, and independent scholars.

“In conducting the vote, they act in fun and do not pretend to be officially inducting words into the English language. Instead, they are highlighting that language change is normal, ongoing, and entertaining,” says the society’s website.

Many linguists view the Words of the Year from the American Dialect Society as free of commercial interest and thereby more credible. Its word selections are certainly more interesting. Here’s a list of the American Dialect Society Word of the Year from 1993 to 2013:

1993—information superhighway
1994—cyber, morph
1996—mom (as in soccer mom)
1997—millennium bug
1998—e- (as in e-commerce)
1999 —Y2K
2002—weapons of mass destruction
2004—red state, blue state, purple state
2009 —tweet
2012 —hashtag

PR Daily readers, what do you think of the word of the year selections from the American Dialect Society?
This article was first published on Ragan Communication’s PR Daily.


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