My ears are so happy that the election has passed into history. 2012 was a political year, and political speech brings out the worst in our poor abused tongue. Neologisms sprout like toadstools; cliches and catch phrases are pounded into the public brain with extreme prejudice and vast piles of “soft money.” This is the “air war” of campaigning, as distinct from the “ground game” of getting out the vote.
May I never hear again about game-changers, job creators, the richest of the rich, etch-a-sketch moments, doubling down, dog whistles, Obamaloney, Romnesia, or SuperPACs. Then there are the several numerical offenders, the 1%, the 99%, the 47%. And I’d be 100% happy never to hear another political ad of any stripe. No matter who “approves this message,” I don’t. Every year, unfortunately, is a political year to some degree. Bill Haenel brought to my attention “fiscal cliff,” the first catch-phrase to rise above the post-election fog, and one bound to annoy us all into 2013.
It’s not just politics that brings forward new ways to mangle meaning. Social media platforms are continually creating a need for words to describe what sci-fi rocker Paul Kantner sang about in the 70s, “We’re doin’ things that haven’t got a name yet.” First noted by the Cambridge Dictionary blog this year: “Mood tracking,” subjecting Facebook posts and tweets to “sentiment analysis”–a two-fer. “Chatterboxing” is the practice of tweeting about what you are watching on TV. And the nastiest-sounding new media newbie–“twit-rape”–hijacking someone’s twitter account to pose falsely as them.
The world of horror movies is well represented in new terms as well. There is the “zombie debtor,” a person indebted at an interest rate that can never be paid off. The runway milieu brings us “Frankenshoes,” footwear of extravagant ugliness. And who can forget “pink slime,” a meat product additive to ground beef made by–well–never mind how they make it.
One might also wonder what “mancations” are all about, what a “murdercam” does, and what is “doga,” when it’s at home. Look them up, and add your own abominable nominations in a comment below.