2016 and the Words of the Year

It’s that time of year when a number of prestigious English-language dictionaries come out with their words of the year. This week I saw Oxford Dictionaries had come out with their word the year, which was post-truth, as in post truth politics. Here is a video in which they discuss their choices:

  1. post-truth
  2. alt-right
  3. glass cliff
  4. hygge
  5. chatbot
  6. adulting
  7. Brexiteer
  8. woke
  9. coulrophobia
  10. Latinx

Before them Collins had already made their choice. Brexit. Here we have a video in which we can see the highly professional lexicographers they have:

  1. Brexit
  2. dude food
  3. hygge
  4. JOMO
  5. mic drop
  6. sharenting
  7. snowflake generation
  8. throw shade
  9. Trumpism
  10. uberization

As you can see, although there is some overlap between the lists, there are a number of differences too. I suppose Brexit was a pretty obvious choice, but event of the last ten days or so have meant that Brexit is not alone. In this sense post-truth was a good choice. I am, however, sceptical that there was ever a golden age of politics when truth flourished. Wasn’t it Churchill who said that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on? It is true that the fragmentation of news sources has allowed the proliferation of lies, rumour and gossip masquerading as the news.

The alt-right is another frightening term. I first became aware of this counter-cultural right-wing movement. They are a countercultural movement who abhor mainstream politics, using online media to disseminate deliberately controversial content. They oppose immigration, multiculturalism and political correctness. In part they may be a reaction to left-wing intolerance- all that nonsense about safe spaces and no platforming. Be that as it may, this group is disgusting. It is a bit depressing, but not particularly surprising that white supremacism, should be alive and well in the 21st century.  Here is a video about the phenomenon:

I don’t know how the Danish word hygge, pronounced ‘hooga’, made it onto the list. The VisitDenmark website defines it thus:

Creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family – that’s hygge too. There’s nothing more hygge than sitting round a table, discussing the big and small things in life. Perhaps hygge explains why the Danes are the happiest people in the world?

2016 did not seem to be characterised by this at all. Coulrophobia, the extreme or irrational fear of clowns, had to be there after all those alleged clown sightings, which began in the USA, but have now spread all over the planet.

Then we have Uberization. I had been meaning to do a post about the sharing economy but I haven’t got round to it yet. Sharenting, the habitual use of social media to share news, images, etc of one’s children and snowflake generation, the young adults of the 2010s, viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offence than previous generations, are the type of words you get on the WordSpy blog, which I regularly feature on this blog.

So there we have it. 2016 is coming to a close. I’ll leave you with a tweet from the BBC’S Have I Got News for You Twitter feed:

As the OED declares post-truth its word of the year based on Trump’s election campaign, next year’s word is revealed to be post-apocalypse.


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