The Year in Language

The beginning of a new year is always filled with round-ups of the previous one. Mostly they are in the form of lists (especially ‘word of the year’ lists), which becomes a bit tedious after the eleventh one.

For that reason I recommend Erin McKean’s roundup of the year in the language at It’s not a list, it’s a look at some of the main language stories of 2010, from the recent debate about “culturomics” to Sarah Palin’s use of “refudiate”.

Here’s an extract from the article:

The dumbest story of 2010, wordwise, has to be the Global Language Monitor’s affirmation in late December that WikiLeaks is a for-real darn-tootin’ word of English. Calling WikiLeaks a “new media and high technology” company (it’s not; it’s a nonprofit organization), GLM asserts that the 300 million “citations” it has found for the name means that WikiLeaks is, by sheer force of numbers, officially an English word. Note that GLM didn’t make any assertions about whether WikiLeaks actually functioned as a word (for example, pointing out instances of people using WikiLeaked as a verb, which would be a reasonable argument), and didn’t give any instances of the citations used to make their determination. I’m all in favor of discussing how names become words, but it seems absurd to declare a “word” based purely on uncritical beancounting. By the same standard, the misspelling seperate, the number 101, and “Little Fockers” should all be considered English words now. (Source:

What was your favourite language-related story of 2010?