Words of the Year Named by Oxford Dictionaries

December 9, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. blunder (n.) [bluhn-der] – a careless mistake
Example: The speaker made a lot of blunders because he didn’t review his speech.

2. lexicographer (n.) [lek-si-kog-ruh-fer] – a writer or editor of a dictionary
Example: The lexicographers wrote down the pronunciation and meaning of the words.

3. coin (v.) [koin] – to make or invent a new word or expression
Example: “Techie” is a word coined to refer to people who are good at electronic technology.

4. competence (n.) [kom-pi-tuh ns] – ability to do something successfully
Example: His competence at writing is the result of much practice.

5. sequence (n.) [see-kwuh ns] – series of things that follows a logical order or pattern  
Example: The number sequence follows an increasing order.

Read the text below.

Oxford University Press has selected new words from American and British English that best describe the mood of the year.

“Omnishambles,” a badly managed situation caused by a series of blunders and miscalculations, was chosen as Britain’s Word of the Year.

Susie Dent, a lexicographer from the Oxford University Press, says they picked the word because it was often used to describe government blunders and because it was used in many creative ways. British reporters coined the word “Romneyshambles” when US presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he was not sure London had the competence to host the Olympics.

On the other hand, “gif,” was named Word of the Year in the US. Gif, meaning graphics interchange format, is a file format of images. Oxford chose the word because gif, formerly only a noun, is being popularly used as a verb. “To gif” is defined as “to create a gif file of an image or video sequence."   Images are “giffed” to be shared online.

Other words considered in the UK were “second screening”—the act of watching television and using a gadget at the same time–as well as Olympic-inspired words such as “Games Maker,” a term for volunteers of the Olympics.

US’ top words included “YOLO” (You Only Live Once), used in social media, and “superstorm,” used in news reports to describe Hurricane Sandy, the powerful storm that affected several parts of the US.

Oxford editors say that although these words were popular this year, they must be used for a long time before they can be added to Oxford English dictionaries.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

·         What is the importance of having a Word of the Year?
·         What word can best describe or summarize your country’s experiences or your own experiences for this year? Why this word?

Discussion B

·         Why do you think language changes?
·         Is language change positive or negative? Please explain your answer.


December 9, 2012