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samedi 8 janvier 2011

News bulletin – Linguists select “app” as the word of the year

Le présent article a été rédigé par Jonathan Goldberg, que je remercie. Une traduction en français sera publiée prochainement sur ce blog.

On January 7, 2011, the American Dialect Society chosen “app” (short for application) as the “Word of 2010”. “App” was chosen Friday night by about 150 linguists after two days of debate that began with a list of 33 words.

The goal in choosing a Word of the Year, is to find a word or expression that in some way "best characterizes the year ... [and] most reflects the ideas, events, and themes which have occupied the English-speaking world, especially North America,"

Apps are tailored to the interface (key pad, touch pad, remote control, etc.) of a lightweight, web-based device, such as a mobile phone, TV set or tablet PC. “App” in its present usage was initiated by the Apple Company – making it a play on words (Apple, application). Apple’s “App” Store, launched in 2008, now offers 300,000 apps. The APP Store is an extension of the iTunes online store and it offers free and paid applications for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

According to PC Magazine, the term “APPlication” has been used as shorthand for "application" in the IT community for decades but became newly popular for mobile applications, especially since the advent of Apple's App Store.

Members of the American Dialect Society hold their annual meeting every January to choose the word that came into the most popular usage during the preceding year.

Professor Bill Kretzschmar, who proposed “app”, explained: "It is the most democratic word. It's not just big companies making apps anymore, it's small companies and individuals. Even the weatherman I watch on television in Atlanta made an app to get weather information this year. It's everywhere."

"My 84-year-old mother uses the word, and she doesn't even know how to text," he added.

Christine Lindberg, senior lexicographer for Oxford University Press, said: “"I agree with their argument for app, because when it went in our dictionary at first, it only went in as 'short for application’. But now it's time to give it a full definition, because it really has become the full word people use."

In second place was “nom”, defined as "onomatopoetic form connoting eating, esp. pleasurably." It derives from the Sesame Street character's sound as he devours his favorite food.


Several words relating to BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, such as “spillion” (an immeasurable number, deriving from the billions of gallons of oil spilled), were nominated, but none reached the final round of voting.

"Tweet" and "Google" were last year's "Word of the Year" and "Word of the Decade."

The New Oxford American Dictionary chose “refudiate” as its word of 2010. This word is a synonym for “reject”. It blends “refute” and “repudiate”.  It was brought to the public’s attention when Sarah Palin (the 2008 Republic Vice-President nominee) used it on a Twitter message.  It was widely accepted that Palin has used it unintentionally, out of confusion.  Palin claimed it was a typo error – that she had pressed the f key instead of the p key.

But she later took credit for coining the word (even though it was used earlier by a writer in the New York Times). Sarah Palin compared herself to Shakespeare, who introduced many new words to the English language.

For two video clips mocking Palin, see:

The American Name Society voted “Eyafjalljökul” as Name of the Year for 2010. It is the name of an Icelandic volcano which spewed enough ash this year to severely disrupt flights across Europe.

1 commentaire:

  1. Good word! Now I have to decide to make the plunge and purchase a smart phone. I keep wondering though: I've gotten by fine so far without all those apps and only pay 20 euros per month. Is this something I really need, or just something the consumer society is telling me that I need?

    What do you think?