Last night, the American Dialect Society (meeting in Baltimore in conjunction with the Linguistics Society of America) selected the final nominees for Word of the Year (2009) and Word of the Decade (2000-09). Here are the WOTY finalists:
-er A suffix used in such words as birther, someone who questions whether Obama was born in the United States; deather, someone who believes the government has death panels in its healthcare reform plan; Tenther, someone who believes the Federal government is mostly illegal because it usurps rights which belong to the States, in violation of the 10th Amendment; and truther, someone who doubts the official account of the 9/11 attacks.
fail A noun or interjection describing something egregiously unsuccessful. Usually used as an interjection: “FAIL!”
H1N1 The virus that causes swine flu.
public option A government-run healthcare program, desired by some to be part of the country’s healthcare reform.
And here are the nominees for Word of the Decade:
9/11 The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Pronounced “nine eleven.”
blog A web site for publishing a chronological and ongoing series of related entries, especially when they are all by the same person(s) or on the same topic. Also a productive combining form: blogosphere, blogerati, milblog, blogola.
google Verb meaning “to search the Internet.” Generic form of the trademarked “Google,” the world’s dominant Internet search engine.
green Related to ecological or environmental conservation or protection. Also a productive combining form: greenwashing, green collar, etc.
text Verb: to send a text message via a mobile phone. Noun: such a message.
war on terror A global effort to prevent terror and terrorists.
You can read the full list of nominees, including those for such WOTY subcategories as Most Useful, Most Creative, and Most Likely to Succeed, here. The final votes in all categories will take place tonight (Friday) at 5:30 pm in the Ruth Room of the Baltimore Hilton. Attendees of the cabal, uh, LSA conference (and interested members of the public who happen to be in Baltimore) are welcome to attend and participate.
[OED editor at large Jesse Sheidlower gave a running commentary on the nominating session via Twitter, at @jessesheidlower (using the #woty hashtag). Jesse plans to do this again for the final vote, for anyone who would like to follow along at home.]
[Update: Read all about the winners here.]