English teaching & learning! Tips, reflections & discussions!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

'The word of the year' isn't a word

"Hashtag", is the word of the year, according to the American Dialect Society (read more here). Ironically enough, it isn't a word that will naturally come into a conversation, but  the name of a symbol that became crucial to 'highlight' or 'tag' specific subjects on social networks such as Twitter, Instagram or Google+.

A few months earlier, the Oxford American Dictionary had chosen 'gif' as its word of the year (read more here). GIF, if you're not aware of it, is an acronym for Graphic Interchange Format, and it's the kind of technique used to create 'animated pictures' like in the banner at the top of this page or in images like this cat with headphones.

These two examples confirm that the impact of technology on language is enormous, but they also show the two sides of  how we use social media: if the hashtag is very useful to organize information and groups of people around a specific subject, gif images are usually silly and meaningless, showing how childish the web has made us.  

Let's wait and see if 2013 will make words more meaningful than this... 

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  1. One more weird word,which has been added to our vocab list!
    I loved the singing cat!

    1. haha the singing cat is kind of cute, but does it justify the choice for 'gif' as word of the year?

      Thanks for the comments!