Speak English Salon

“Unfriend” is Word of the Year ★★★

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Every autumn the New Oxford American Dictionary announces its choice for the world of the year, and in 2009 the honors go to the verb unfriend.

unfriend – verb – To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.

Example: “I unfriended Jack on Facebook after our fight.”

“It has both currency and potential longevity,” notes Christine Lindberg, Senior Lexicographer for Oxford’s US dictionary program. “In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for Word of the Year. Most “un-” prefixed words are adjectives (unacceptable, unpleasant), and there are certainly some familiar “un-” verbs (uncap, unpack), but “unfriend” is different from the norm. It assumes a verb sense of “friend” that is really not used (at least not since maybe the 17th century!). Unfriend has real lex-appeal.”

Other new words considered for the New Oxford American Dictionary 2009 Word of the Year include:

Technology

hashtag – a # [hash] sign added to a word or phrase that enables Twitter users to search for tweets (postings on the Twitter site) that contain similarly tagged items and view thematic sets

intexticated – distracted because texting on a cellphone while driving a vehicle

netbook – a small, very portable laptop computer with limited memory

paywall – a way of blocking access to a part of a website which is only available to paying subscribers

sexting – the sending of sexually explicit texts and pictures by cellphone

Economy

freemium – a business model in which some basic services are provided for free, with the aim of enticing users to pay for additional, premium features or content

funemployed – taking advantage of one’s newly unemployed status to have fun or pursue other interests

zombie bank – a financial institution whose liabilities are greater than its assets, but which continues to operate because of government support

Politics and Current Affairs

Ardi – (Ardipithecus ramidus) oldest known hominid, discovered in Ethiopia during the 1990s and announced to the public in 2009

birther – a conspiracy theorist who challenges President Obama’s birth certificate

choice mom – a person who chooses to be a single mother

death panel – a theoretical body that determines which patients deserve to live, when care is rationed

teabagger -a person, who protests President Obama’s tax policies and stimulus package, often through local demonstrations known as “Tea Party” protests (in allusion to the Boston Tea Party of 1773)

Environment

brown state – a US state that does not have strict environmental regulations

green state – a US state that has strict environmental regulations

ecotown – a town built and run on eco-friendly principles

Novelty Words

deleb – a dead celebrity

tramp stamp – a tattoo on the lower back, usually on a woman

Notable Word Clusters for 2009:

Twitter related:
Tweeps
Tweetup
Twitt
Twitterati
Twitterature
Twitterverse/sphere
Retweet
Twibe
Sweeple
Tweepish
Tweetaholic
Twittermob
Twitterhea
Obamaisms:
Obamanomics
Obamarama
Obamasty
Obamacons
Obamanos
Obamanation
Obamafication
Obamamessiah
Obamamama
Obamaeur
Obamanator
Obamaland
Obamalicious
Obamacles
Obamania
Obamacracy
Obamanon
Obamalypse

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Speak! English Salon/スピーク英会話サロン
http://web.me.com/josephcamcinnis
福岡市中央区大名1-12-36

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Author: Aonghas Crowe

Aonghas (pron. "Ennis") Crowe is an author, writer, blogger, and translator. He splits his time between Fukuoka, Japan and Beirut, Lebanon. Read more by Aonghas Crowe at www.aonghascrowe.com

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