Date: Tue, 10 Jan 1995 17:07:48 -0600

From: Natalie Maynor maynor[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]RA.MSSTATE.EDU

Subject: Re: More Responses

In reply to Natalie's justifiable concern, let me defend Allan's press

release and raise some questions. Allan does say very candidly of cyber,

I hope my concern wasn't construed as a cricicism of Allan's press release.

I think the problems are in the nature of the contest and in the questions

of "new to whom" or "prominent in what way."

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

Here, for example, Allan makes clear that nobody is claiming that the

word "cyber" is brand new. What do we mean by "newly prominent," though?

I think somebody said at the meeting that we were looking for words that

had become more or less mainstream that year -- prominent with the masses?

And I do think it was in 1994 that _Newsweek_ started running its regular

"cyber" column, which I suppose could be said to mark the entrance of the

word into the mainstream. On university campuses, however, the word is

quite old and well-worn. I was reading freshman papers on topics like

"cyber-life" in the '80s. This is one reason I argued against "cyber" at

the meeting. It may be true, however, that people outside of universities

or the computer industry haven't known the word long.

1. what do we mean by new words? in terms of our contest, and in terms of

the history of language, new words exist on a continuum--few words will

become prominent enough at the moment of their origin to become WOTY. It

takes time. You can't throw in a word in December and expect it to win the

prize (like they do with the new movies).

This is what I pointed out on Words-L in response to the criticisms -- that

a word coined in a particular year is not likely to become prominent among

the masses until a bit later.

2. what reactions do we want from our audience (here I'm writing like an

old comp director, which is of course my other job)? I think the words-l

responses are valid, in a way, and we need to write our press releases to

avoid getting those kinds of negative reactions. But maybe what we need is

Keep in mind also that Words-L participants aren't a cross-section of the

population. Most of them have been hanging around cyberspace for a good


more than just a list, if the words are pre-known (on the analogy of

pre-driven, previously viewed, and preborn), or so new as to be inscrutable

(as the words in some of the other categories). So we can show word people

words they are familiar with and give them a reason to feel that such words

deserve the WOTY/POTY prize. And maybe, while we're at it, we should

Yes. Some kind of justification for choosing them.

design a statuette (or at least a computer icon) to go with the prize.

Excellent idea. Are you volunteering to create the design? :-)

--Natalie (maynor[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]