I find myself at odds with dictionary.com following the announcement of its word of the year. The online dictionary has gone with Bluster as its word of 2012.
The choice is unexpected, as was Tergiversate in 2011. But it’s not that I mind the word that much, or the reasons for choosing it. I always prefer a word of the year to be something coined in that year, but dictionary.com made it clear last year that this was not a prerequisite in its selection procedure, so I will let it go.
The reasons for the selection are cogent – it has been a year of political bluster across the globe and meteorological bluster from the skies. So it is a neat word which ties together the controllable and uncontrollable elements of the last 12 months.
But what I really disagree with was the editors’ assertion that this has been a year which has been “lexicographically quiet”, to borrow their phrase. As the entries in Wordability should have demonstrated, 2012 has been anything but. Not only have there been some entertaining words coined in 2012, confirming the delicious flexibility of the language, but linguistic issues have also sparked significant debates, showing that language matters to people to a high degree. Just look back on Misogyny, Gay Marriage or Swedish Pronouns to see what I mean. It has been a year when issues of meaning and definition have hit the mainstream media.
So maybe Bluster is a good choice after all. It’s just that the bluster has extended to semantic matters as well.
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