Date: Wed, 8 Jan 1997 12:23:47 -0500 From: Allan Metcalf Subject: Official report: WOTY for 1996 Yes, it's about time I posted my official record of our WOTY vote. Thanks to all who have posted their prebuttals. And let me give credit to Chicago Sun-Times reporter John Carpenter, who attended both our nominating session and our final vote, and who wrote a pretty accurate and engaging article that appeared in the paper January 4 and was in turn basis for the AP report that swept the nation. If he emphasized "soccer mom" rather than the generic "-mom," well so did we in our discussions. Now here is the draft of an official statement. BTW, you can find the press release for 1995, with complete list of all previous choices, on the ADS Web site, - Allan Metcalf ------------------------------------------ In its annual vote at its annual meeting, the American Dialect Society on Jan. 3 chose as word of the year 1996 "mom" as in "soccer mom," the newly significant type of voter courted by both candidates during the presidential campaign. That phrase spun off other designations such as "minivan mom" and "waitress mom." "Mom" received 25 votes in the final show of hands, compared with 16 for the runner-up "alpha geek," the person in a workplace who knows most about computers. Every year since 1990 the Society has voted on words that are most representative of the year gone by. The chosen words or phrases do not have to be brand new, since few completely new words attain wide currency, but they do have to be newly prominent or distinctive. The election is serious, based on members' tracking of new words during the year, but it is far from solemn, since many of the words represent fads and foibles of the year. Some less well known words are chosen because they are ingenious inventions. Before the vote on Word (or Phrase) of the Year, members chose winners in particular categories. These were the other 1996 choices: 1. Most Useful: "dot" (18 votes) used instead of "period" in e-mail and URL addresses. Runner-up was "d'oh" (12) recognition of one's stupidity (from the Simpsons TV show). 2. Most Unnecessary: "Mexican hustle" (20) another name for the Macarena (and it's not Mexican). Runner-ups were "bridge to the 21st century" (13) the putative work of presidential candidate Bill Clinton, and "uber-" (6) prefix substituting for "super" as in "ubermom." 3. Most Controversial: "Ebonics" (unanimous) African-American vernacular English. Even among ADS members "Ebonics" was controversial, as they found themselves disagreeing on the definition. Does "Ebonics" imply that it is a separate language? 4. Most Likely to Succeed: "drive-by" (25) designating brief visits or hospital stays as in "drive-by labor," "drive-by mastectomy," "drive-by viewing." Runner-up "nail" (7) to accomplish perfectly, as an Olympic feat, election victory, or movie role. 5. Most Outrageous: "toy soldier" (22) land mine (in the former Yugoslavia). Runner-ups "stalkerazzi" (4) photographers (paparazzi) who stalk their prey, and "roofie" (3) Rohypnol, the date-rape drug. 6. Most Original: "prebuttal" (18) preemptive rebuttal; quick response to a political adversary. Runner-up: "alpha geek" (14). 7. Most Euphemistic: tie (18 each) between "urban camping" living homeless in a city, and "food insecure" said of a country where people are starving. 8. Word of the Year, first vote: "mom" 7, "alpha geek" 7, "drive-by" 7, "go there" to mention a topic 6, "dot" 5, "all that" 5, "Macarena" 2, "stalkerazzi" 2, "nail" 1, "prebuttal" 1, "una" as in Unabomber 1. Second vote: "mom" 12, "alpha geek" 9, "drive-by" 7, "go there" 7, "dot" 4, "all that" 3. Third vote: "mom" 17, "alpha geek" 10, "drive-by" 9, "go there" 6. Final vote: "mom" 25, "alpha geek" 16. The vote for Word of the Year 1997 will take place at the Society's annual meeting in New York City at the Grand Hyatt Hotel January 8-10, 1998. Nominations should be sent to the chair of the Society's Committee on New Words, Professor Wayne Glowka, Dept. of English and Speech, Georgia College and State University, Milledgeville GA 31061; e-mail wglowka[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]