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Word of the Year competition - Dr. Wayne GlowkaGooglegnger.
Global Warming.
Hill-Bill.

What do these words have in common?

They are just a few of the nominations made by Dr. Wayne Glowka, dean of arts and humanities at Reinhardt College, for the American Dialect Society's Words of the Year 2007 competition, an annual event he currently chairs.

"The purpose of the Words of the Year [WOTY] competition is to promote the understanding of how language works," says Glowka. "An important part of language is that it is constantly new. When people need a new word, they often don't reference a dictionary -- they just make it up."

For the course of the year before each annual competition, Glowka collects various words that he has heard, read, or been given by others. He then makes his final selections of words to nominate for the competition based upon his own set criteria.

"I look for clever inventions mainly," Glowka reveals. "Publicity is an important part of the competition; therefore, I look for words that I think news people will find interesting. Funny words. Words that relate to memorable current events and that are linguistically new."

"Celebutard", "General Betray Us", "Bom Chicka Wah Wah"

This year, Glowka prepared his list early and made his nominations for words such as:

  • celebutard: stupid famous female;
  • General Betray Us: General David Petraeus, US Commander in Iraq;
  • strand-in: protest duplicating being stranded inside an airplane on a delayed flight; and
  • Bom Chicka Wah Wah: a phrase for X-rated being hot, among many others.

Visit www.americandialect.org/ for a complete list and definitions of Glowka's nominated words.

Selection Process Described

On January 3, 2008 in Chicago, Ill., Glowka, who presides over the committee meeting, and his colleagues in the American Dialect Society and the Linguistic Society of America, along with several dictionary editors, will present words that they want to nominate for WOTY. After all nominations are made, the group then places the words into categories to create a usable list to present to a larger group of people. In the past, such categories as most useful, most unnecessary and most outrageous, to name a few, were used.

The following day, a larger group of about 60-100 people will attend the competition to hear the presentation of the final nominated words. Those in attendance are allowed to stand and make statements for or against a word. The presentation of words concludes with a hand-vote for the top words in each category, and then one word (or phrase) is voted-in to become the "word of the year."

History of WOTY

The WOTY competition was created in 1990 by Allan Metcalf, executive secretary of the American Dialect Society, to showcase the trends in language and its constant change in relation to society and current events. The American Dialect Society was founded in 1889, and is dedicated to the study of the English languagein North America, and of other languages, or dialects of other languages, influencing it or influenced by it.

Glowka Background

Glowka became the dean of arts and humanities at Reinhardt College in July of 2007. Prior to coming to Reinhardt, he served as a professor of English and as the coordinator of graduate studies in English at Georgia College & State University for 27 years.

He has been a member of the American Dialect Society since 1980. Along with his duties in the WOTY competition, Glowka serves as the editor of "Among the New Words," a column in the American Dialect Society's quarterly journal, American Speech. Last year, Glowka was interviewed about WOTY by newspapers including The Hartford Courant, The Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Washington Post. He was also interviewed for a program on the Discovery Channel, to be called The Joy of Lex, which will appear on television screens in the coming year.

For more information about the WOTY competition or the American Dialect Society, visit www.americandialect.org/, or contact Dr. Wayne Glowka at AWG@reinhardt.edu.

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