Woty! or wopoty?

YES! (Philippines) - - Momshies on IG -

THE END of 2017 saw lex­i­cog­ra­phers and lin­guists com­ing out, as usual, with the WOTY of their choice. As lan­guage loonies and lengua­nat­ics know, that acro­nym stands for Word of the Year, a term that has been used in ref­er­ence not just to a sin­gle word but also to a phrase, an ex­pres­sion, and even an emoji.

The choice of more than one word as WOTY, how­ever, has oc­ca­sion­ally trig­gered neg­a­tive com­ments on the In­ter­net. The Aus­tralian Mac­quarie Dic­tio­nary’s choice of milk­shake duck as its WOTY 2017, for in­stance, got this re­ac­tion from one blog com­menter: “It is a ‘term’ or a ‘phrase.’ It is not a word.” An­other com­menter sec­onded: “it is quite ob­vi­ously *two* words.”

So maybe it’s time to re­place WOTY with a more ap­pro­pri­ate term? How about WOPOTY—Word or Phrase of the Year?

Will com­menters and com­men­ta­tors give El Len­guador a thumb’s up for that in­spired coinage? Maybe not. So let’s get back to WOTY. Let’s take a look at some of the 2017 WOTY.

The Amer­i­can Mer­riam-Webster dic­tio­nary chose de­fined as “the the­ory of the political, eco­nomic, and so­cial equal­ity of the sexes” and “or­ga­nized ac­tiv­ity on be­half of women’s rights and in­ter­ests.” The word, al­ready in use in the 19th cen­tury, en­joyed a spike in dic­tio­nary lookups af­ter the Jan­uary 2017 women’s march on Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and af­ter Hol­ly­wood stars came out to ex­pose the sex­ual ha­rass­ment that they had gone through in the past—a com­ing-out now known as the #MeToo move­ment.

The Bri­tish Ox­ford Dic­tio­nar­ies went for de­fined as “a sig­nif­i­cant cul­tural, political, or so­cial change aris­ing from the ac­tions or in­flu­ence of young peo­ple.” Ac­cord­ing to the Ox­ford web­site, the word was orig­i­nally coined by Vogue mag­a­zine edi­tor in chief Diana Vree­land “to de­scribe the youth-led fash­ion and mu­sic move­ment of the swing­ing Six­ties,” and it “has been res­ur­rected with a new mean­ing, now re­fer­ring to the political awak­en­ing of the oft-ma­ligned mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion.”

The ear­lier men­tioned Mac­quarie Dic­tio­nary phrase may be new to Pinoys:

de­fined as “a per­son who is ini­tially viewed pos­i­tively by the me­dia but is then dis­cov­ered to have some­thing ques­tion­able about them which causes a sharp de­cline in their pop­u­lar­ity.” The term orig­i­nated from a 2016 tweet by a cer­tain @pix­e­lat­ed­boat: “The whole in­ter­net loves Milk­shake Duck, a lovely duck that drinks milk­shakes! *5 sec­onds later* We re­gret to Two Na­tional Artists— Bien­venido Lum­bera for Lit­er­a­ture (left) and Bene­dicto “Ben­cab” Cabr­era for Vis­ual Arts—at­tended the event. Not in photo but like­wise in at­ten­dance was a third Na­tional Artist, F. Sionil Jose for Lit­er­a­ture. Their pres­ence was ac­knowl­edged dur­ing the pre-screen­ing pro­gram. in­form you the duck is racist.”

Mac­quarie and other Google sources don’t men­tion this, but El Len­guador notes that U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who has the same first name as the car­toon char­ac­ter Don­ald Duck, is re­port­edly a fan of the McDon­ald’s fast-food chain, and his “typ­i­cal order,” ac­cord­ing to the Bri­tish daily news­pa­per The Guardian, is “two Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fishes and a chocolate milk­shake.” He has also been de­nounced as a racist be­cause he wants to ban im­mi­grants from Mus­lim and Third World coun­tries.

And here’s the choice of three dif­fer­ent groups, the Amer­i­can Di­alect So­ci­ety (ADS), the Bri­tish Collins Dic­tio­nary, and the News on the Web Cor­pus: The term is de­fined by Collins as “false, of­ten sen­sa­tional, in­for­ma­tion dis­sem­i­nated un­der the guise of news re­port­ing” and by ADS as “dis­in­for­ma­tion or falsehoods pre­sented as real news or ac­tual news that is claimed to be un­true.”

Fake news, ac­cord­ing to Mignon Fog­a­rty, who runs the Gram­mar Girl blog, is “the clear winner in the word-of-the-year fol­lies.”

(With this col­umn, ap­pear­ing in the last is­sue of YES!, El Len­guador bids farewell to what re­mains of the show­biz lengua­natic bri­gade. Good­bye, adios, paalam, babayu!)

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