As the nation prepares for the longest election campaign in Australian history, another election needs our attention first. Aidan Wilson looks at some of the contenders for Macquarie Dictionary's 2012 Word of the Year competition.
Aidan Wilson is sometimes a linguist and sometimes a cyclist, and occasionally both. He was born and raised in Sydney but now lives in Melbourne and is currently a graduate student at the University of Melbourne. He has worked on two Australian Indigenous languages over the past six years and is keenly interested in Indigenous Language Education. Views expressed here are his own and are not necessarily the views of the University of Melbourne.
As the nation prepares for the longest election campaign known to man (besides the four-year long campaigns that the US perpetually endures), there is an arguably equally important poll taking place as we speak, and the voting closes tomorrow.
That’s right; it’s the Macquarie Dictionary 2012 Word of the Year. This year’s contenders include some obvious ones, such as fiscal cliff, mummy blog, and first-world problem, as well as some less well-known coinages and blends such as dramality (drama + reality) and jorts (jeans + shorts). Notably, jeggings (jeans + leggings) is not there, although its absence may be indicative of their timely demise.
Some of the words in contention are quite visceral and would probably not go down very well, such as frape, a blend of ‘facebook’ and ‘rape’, used to refer to the act of posting status updates on another’s behalf, or facebook hacking. Another of these is cock-block, which the Macquarie has defined as ‘to interfere with and thwart the advances made by (a male) to a prospective sexual partner’.
Many of the words in the list are not exactly new; some have been around for years, like props ‘respect; admiration’, a shortening of proper respect (apparently), which has been around in Australia since I was in high school well over a decade ago, and derived from Black American English much earlier than that.
It is notable that misogyny is not among the contenders. Perhaps Macquarie are shying away from their decision in October to alter its definition in the wake of Julia Gillard’s infamous speech. Or perhaps they don’t see the mere change in meaning (and a small one at that) as justification enough to warrant its inclusion in the list.
Among my picks are marngrook, a word from several Victorian Aboriginal languages (and the only indigenous Australian word in the list) meaning ‘game ball’, and referring to a sport that was played in western Victoria prior to the arrival of Europeans. The game is seen by many as having had a significant influence on Australian Rules football.
Another good one is dilligaf, an acronym of ‘do I look like I give a fuck?’ And one I hadn’t previously heard, cuprocking, which is ‘a form of urban mural in which coloured plastic cups are placed in wire-mesh fences to create designs’ as pictured above. The word is a blend of ‘cup’ obviously, and the surname of the Sydney artist who apparently initiated the artform in the early 2000s, Andy Uprock.
The Word of the Year, according to Macquarie, should be the word that had the most striking contribution to Australian English in 2012. So what do you think? Did any of the words on the list have such an impact? Are there any that should be there in the first place?
Voting closes tomorrow, February first, and the winners are announced on Thursday, February 6th.