Date: Mon, 9 Jan 1995 21:02:32 -0500


Subject: Let the word go out

Thanks to Natalie's nimbleness, y'all know already the choices we made for

Word of the Year at our Coronado confab. But I thought you might want to see

(and perhaps improve) the press release I'm preparing, to make available to

those in the media who belatedly inquire.



In a tie vote at the American Dialect Society's annual meeting Dec. 29, both

"cyber" and "morph" were chosen as New Words of the Year 1994.

"Cyber," pertaining to computers and electronic communication, was

recognized not only for itself but because of the hundreds of compounds it

has produced, such as "cyberculture," "cybercrime," "cyberhype," "cybersex,"

"cybersurfer." It is not brand new, but newly prominent.

"Morph," meaning to change form, is also not a brand-new word but was

similarly prominent in 1994. Children already know it from the Mighty

Morphin Power Rangers; politicians learned about it as they were "morphed" by

enemies in the elections of November 1994.

Preceding the final vote on New Word of the Year, members and friends of the

American Dialect Society, meeting at Le Meridien in Coronado, Calif., also

chose these winners in six particular categories:

1. Most beautiful: "sylvanshine," the newly discovered night-time

iridescence of forest trees.

2. Most imaginative: "guillermo," an e-mail message in a foreign language.

It is a bilingual play on words: the Spanish name Guillermo has the

nickname "Memo."

3. Most trendy: "dress down day," also known as "casual day," a workday

(usually Friday) when employees are allowed to dress casually.

4. Most euphemistic: "challenged" as a polite way of indicating an

undesirable or unappealing condition, in combinations like "abdominally

challenged," "classically challenged."

5. Most promising: "Infobahn," a new short term (with a play on the German

"Autobahn") for "information superhighway" or the Internet.

6. Most useful: "gingrich," to deal with government agencies, policies, and

people in the manner of newly-elected U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich. It

is most often used in the passive, to say that an agency, for example, is in

danger of being "gingriched."

"Cyber" was the nomination of John and Adele Algeo, conductors of "Among the

New Words" in the American Dialect Society quarterly journal American Speech.

"Morph" was proposed by David Barnhart, editor of the new-words quarterly

Barnhart Dictionary Companion. This year's categories and nominees were

determined by 18 American Dialect Society members and friends in an open

meeting of the New Words Committee the day before the final vote.

[Then follows a list of previous years' winners.]

Be sure to start collecting nominees for WOTY 1995!

Best wishes - AAllan