Words of the Year 2012

Here are some words that dominated popular culture in Australia, the US and UK during the last year. Interesting for English, social science and popular culture classes!


Macquarie Word of the Year 2012 (Aust)

Announced today 6 Feb…..and the winner is….phantom vibration syndrome – an obsessional conviction that your phone has vibrated for an incoming call, when in fact it hasn’t.

Honourable mentions: crowdfunding, technomite, marngrook, First World problem.

People’s Choice winner: First World problem – a problem that relates to the affluent lifestyle of the First World eg. settling for plunger coffee when the espresso machine is broken.

Some category winners:

Technology: technomite – a young child who is adept in the use of digital media.

Internet: crowdfunding – obtaining small donations from individuals contacted through social networks, to fund a project.

Health: diabesity – obesity accompanied by diabetes.

Environment: green tape – bureaucratic regulations and paperwork deriving from environmental legislation.

Colloquial: wine flu – a hangover.

Sport: marngrook – an early influence on AFL, played by pre-European Aboriginal people.

See all shortlisted words in categories: http://www.macquariedictionary.com.au/anonymous@9c9986628003/-/p/dict/WOTY12/index_winner.html


Global Language Monitor

Their 13th annual global survey of the English language. Number of words in the English language: 1,019,729.6 (est. 1/1/13)

Top word: apocalypse

Top phrase: Gangnam Style

Top 20 list includes: meme; MOOC; the Cloud; hen (Swedish attempt to create a gender-neutral pronoun to replace him or her); obesogenic; omnishambles; hashtag; drones; superfood; fracking AND adorkable – the rise of the nerds – adorable dorks!



American Dialect Society Word of the Year 2012

Winner: hashtag – a word or phrase preceded by a hash symbol, used on Twitter to mark a topic or make a commentary.

Runner-up: marriage equality. Also popular: YOLO ( You Only Live Once); * -(po)calypse, -(ma)geddon (hyperbolic combining forms for various catastrophes); Gangnam Style; fiscal cliff (threat of spending cuts and tax increases looming over end-of-year budget negotiations).



Merriam-Webster (US) Words of the Year 2012

Based on the volume of user lookups at Merriam-Webster.com. The presidential election influence can be seen.

Joint winners: socialism and capitalism. The rest of the top 10: touché; bigot; marriage; democracy; professionalism; globalization; malarkey; schadenfreude; meme.



Oxford Dictionaries UK Word of the Year 2012

Winner: omnishambles – Coined by the writers of the satirical television programme The Thick Of It, an omnishambles is a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, and is characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations.

Others considered: Eurogeddon, green-on-blue, pleb, to medal, mummy porn, e-rotica (the phenomenon was fuelled by a surge of erotic book sales on e-readers); second screening  (the activity of watching television whilst simultaneously using a smartphone, laptop, etc., often so as to be able to use a social media site to post about what was happening).



Oxford Dictionaries USA Word of the Year 2012

Winner: to GIF (verb) – to create a GIF file of an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event.

(The GIF is a compressed file format for images that can be used to create simple, looping animations. It turned 25 this year).

See the winning word revealed as a GIF: http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2012/11/us-word-of-the-year-2012/

Other popular contenders: Eurogeddon; superstorm; YOLO; MOOC (Massive Open Online Course – a university course offered free of charge via the internet); homophobia; Higgs Boson.

In January the New York Public Library launched stereogranimator <http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/26/3-d-it-yourself-thanks-to-new-library-site/>  allowing visitors to create GIFs of 40,000+ digitized stereographs from its collection and share them.


Quality journalism

The Conversation online Australian news source is a valuable resource for many curriculum areas, with high quality articles in many fields – science, tech, politics, society, environment, health, business..…


The Conversation turns 2 on 24 March and is now the largest Aust. independent news and commentary website. It has a “commitment to high-quality, intelligent, and independent analysis, comment and research, penned by academics with real expertise”. Founding partners include several Aust. universities and CSIRO. It is viewed by 669,000 readers each month. Editors work with more than 4,600 registered academics and researchers from 280 institutions.



Michelle Grattan joins The Conversation (and the Uni of Canberra): http://is.gd/an4I3o



Interesting article from The Conversation re the acidic island in the film Life of Pi. And what an amazing film it is – a wonderful adaptation of the book.

Life of Pi’s acidic island a warning for our warming world – Thomas Faunce: http://is.gd/eDvCxD

Interesting comments on quality journalism from Andrew Jaspan (co-founder of The Conversation). 2013 will be another transformative year for Australian media. http://is.gd/LRW4OF


·         The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age will go tabloid and merge, though with some regional differences.

·         They will offer more mid-market fare – fast news, sport, showbiz, gossip.

·         The Guardian will launch a new Aust. digital edition – and this may help “fill the niche for high quality content vacated by Fairfax & News Limited.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-16/guardian-launching-australian-online-edition/4466636

·         The Conversation is “committed to publishing everything under Creative Commons licence, so it is free for anyone to read and republish, unlike the rest of the media who retain copyright.” Many websites every day republish material from The Conversation. A “Republish” button accompanies every article. Their Creative Commons licence: http://is.gd/5Wohtn

Google Zeitgeist 2012

1.2 trillion searches in 146 languages. What did the world search for in 2012?  

Watch the video and see world results: http://www.google.com/zeitgeist/2012/#the-world

Select a country and see what they searched for.

Explore the world map: http://www.google.com/zeitgeist/2012/#explore

 Australia: http://www.google.com/zeitgeist/2012/#australia

Yes Gangnam Style is right up there, as are Lance Armstrong, Lara Bingle, Toyota, The Voice, XXXX beer and Sydney Swans.