Date: Wed, 11 Jan 1995 20:46:43 -0500


Subject: Re: Words of the Year

Natalie points to one of the two great difficulties in choosing (New) Words

of the year, namely, are they really new? This question has agitated our

neologurus Algeo (cf "Problems in New-Word Lexicography," Dictionaries 15

[1994]) and Barnhart (handout at the ADS new-words committee meeting last

month - hope he'll publish it), and it clouded our discussion at the annual

meeting to the point where someone (Larry Davis?) said it was threatening to

become serious.

But seriously, folks, I think our (N)WOTY exercise is becoming useful for us

as an in-your-face challenge to determine objective or reasonable criteria

for defining new words. The Algeos fall back on the simple NIMDD criteria

(=not in my desk dictionary) - if a word appears in one of their nine select

current dictionaries, it's not new. Is there any other way?

Oh, you wondered about the other great difficulty? That's the question of

deciding on reasonable categories for the WOTYs, and clear criteria for

choosing winners other than pure personal preference.

I think we can have serious consideration of these fundamental questions,

while still maintaining the levity of our selection sessions. But join us at

the Barclay in Chicago this December and help out! - AAllan