The end of the year means many things to different people. For those of us who are word-obsessed, it's a time to reflect on language: new words, buzzwords, trite phrases, and cliches that shaped and defined the year.
Oxford University Press has a list and has declared "refudiate" its 2010 Word of the Year. The New York Times has also identifed its Words of the Year and conveniently breaks down the words into categories: Pop Culture, Communicating, Politics, Travel, Economy, the Oil Spill, and Things.
But perhaps my favorite collection of 2010 words and phrases is the one composed by Rob Kyff (the "Word Guy"). I reprint it here, with Mr. Kyff's* permission, for your enjoyment.
2010 Terms That Made Us Squirm
Listen, my readers, and you shall hear
The words we overused this year.
Some were slang, and some were formal.
Let's just call them "the new normal."
The year began with "Snowmaggedon,"
Showing where we might be headin'.
"Cougars" we met and "Guidos" galore,
And not just at the Jersey Shore.
Amid the World Cup saturnalia
We heard -- my ears! -- the "vuvuzela."
In the Gulf, where fish (ill) swam
We focused on a deep "spill cam."
Ecologists were on the scene,
And soon we all were "going green."
When projects stalled or ran aground,
We just devised a "work-around."
Palin popped with quite a spate,
And none we can't "refudiate."
Always sharp and always fizzly,
She called herself a "mama grizzly."
In her verbal 'cyclopedia
Were brickbats to the "lamestream media."
Each pundit, scribe and news observer
Blabbed of "anti-incumbent fervor."
For these reporters, all declarative,
Every person had a "narrative."
They could never have a chat
Without remarking, "Having said that ... "
And they were always sadly hissing
Of some poor soul who'd just "gone missing."
Economists in hackneyed harmony
Would start each sentence, "In today's economy ..."
"Birthers" spoke out loud and hearty,
Pumping up the new "tea party."
In tirades that were never ending
They flayed and roasted "excess spending."
And when they thrashed "Obamacare,"
They gave Barack some more gray hair.
Voters deemed him sorely lacking,
And served him with a real "shellacking."
Facing Boehner, all tanned up,
The Pres told Dems to just "man up."
When liberals griped about this view,
Some said, "He's just not into you."
Then airline travelers, in a funk,
Screamed angrily, "Don't touch my junk!"
But in the end, we did repel
The worn-out phrase "Don't ask, don't tell."
From twenty-ten, I do surmise,
The term we'll keep is "compromise."
*Rob Kyff, a teacher and writer in West Hartford, Conn., invites your language sightings. Send your reports of misuse and abuse, as well as examples of good writing, via e-mail to Wordguy@aol.com or by regular mail to Rob Kyff, Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Rob Kyff and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.