Grammar nerds await with bated breath each year for the Oxford American's announcement of its "Word of the Year." Cynics would call these announcements a sad attempt by an organization to stay relevant in the face of hoards of nearly illiterate preteens who communicate only through texting and AOL Instant Messanger. (That's still a thing, right?) These cynics might say, hey, Oxford, we all know why you're really acting like you give a crap about the word "unfriend." Please don't give that word any meaning.
However, we are not among those people! We think that this annual recognition is a nice bellwether of what pop culture was like this year. A way to see how 2012 fits into history.
Which is why I just slammed my head on the desk.
From the NY Observer:
Now, the GIF has received the ultimate sign of zeitgeisty approval: “GIF” is officially the Oxford American Dictionaries’ 2012 word of the year.
“GIF celebrated a lexical milestone in 2012, gaining traction as a verb, not just a noun,” Katherine Martin, head of the US dictionaries program at Oxford said in a statement. “The GIF has evolved from a medium for pop-cultural memes into a tool with serious applications including research and journalism, and its lexical identity is transforming to keep pace.”
The competition for 2012′s word of the year was understandably fierce. GIF beat out some worthy contenders in order to win the title:
6. YOLO: you only live once; typically used as rationale or endorsement for impulsive or irresponsible behavior
GIF? The short, looped animated images? Sure, whatever, fine. They're entertaining little bits of Internet culture that allow us to experience amazing sports plays, funny moments, and Emma Watson in a different way online. I'm not sure what extent they hold for "serious applications including research and journalism," but they certainly have had a cultural impact this year.
But YOLO? C'mon. A throwaway line from "The Motto" that has now actually been responsible for killing a guy (I'm giving it all the blame, screw the drunk driving part of the story), YOLO became pretty much the worst thing to happen in 2012 EVER. It was an excuse for reckless behavior that also, by its definition, was a reminder that if you were too reckless, you don't have another life (making it nonsensical). It was an example of hashtag rap, a painfully bad lyrical style that luckily is dying out. It was quickly co-opted by certain people's Twitter accounts which will make your eyes bleed if you read them. And, it was a guarantee that if you saw it as Facebook photo album title, you were in for 65 pictures of someone "OUT WITH MA GIRRRRLS" and generally being horrible.
You only Oxford American Dictionary word of the year once (a year). Put important words on it. Like "Spottieottiedopaliscious!" 14 years old. Never gets old.
[H/T: The NY Observer]