Wednesday, January 11, 2006

American Dialect Society Words of the Year 2005: Legal Expressions 'Patent Troll', 'Extraordinary Rendition' Make List

For the 16th year in a row, the American Dialect Society has selected its word of the year.

The overall winner for 2005 is "truthiness", popularized by a satirical fake news show on the Comedy Central television channel. It refers to the "quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true". Podcast was a runner-up.

Podcast did win as word of the year in the subcategory of "most useful". One of the runner-ups in that group was "patent troll", "a person or business, especially a lawyer, who applies for or owns a patent with no intention of developing the product but with every intention of launching lawsuits against patent infringers."

A few other law-related terms scored highly in the "most euphemistic" category (hmmmm, I wonder why): "internal nutrition: force-feeding a prisoner against his or her will" and "extraordinary rendition: the surrendering of a suspect or detainee to another jurisdiction, especially overseas" (in order to be tortured by a friendly dictatorship with less regard for the niceties of courts and a legal defense).

The website lists the various winners going back to 1990.

"Founded in 1889, the American Dialect Society is dedicated to the study of the English language in North America, and of other languages, or dialects of other languages, influencing it or influenced by it. ADS members are linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, historians, grammarians, academics, editors, writers, and independent scholars in the fields of English, foreign languages, and other disciplines".
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:42 pm

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