Making words count

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Sydney Weiss

TRADITION. The word of the year tradition actually dates back to 1971 Germany. Called Wort des Jahres in German, the words of the year are utilized to create a linguistic view of the year’s effects. The Society for German Language chose 10 words this year, most memorably “Brexite”, “Creepy Clown”, and “Trump Critics”.

Sydney Weiss, Social Media Director

Selecting a word to summarize the year is a tradition among various dictionaries. For example, in 2015, Webster chose the words -ism, [tears of joy emoji], microaggression, they (as gender-neutral pronoun), and identity. Oxford chose emoji, which goes along with the general theme of millennial lingo and references to current issues.
This year, however, the words have been slightly more negative than usual. The American Dialect Society chose the word “dumpster fire,” whereas Merriam Webster took a more modest approach and decided on “surreal.”
The Oxford Dictionary picked “post truth” [link], which is when a political debate varies largely from the policies themselves and instead focuses on emotion. Dictionary.com selected “xenophobia” which is defined as intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries.
“I would describe this year as terrible. The 2016 election, gun shootings, and terrorist attacks contributed to a terrible year” said Mohit Dighamber, 10.
One fact cannot be ignored: the words of the year have been less about generational trends and more focused on the tragedies that struck the world in 2016. This has much to do with the events that occurred throughout the year.
“If I had to pick a word I would go with infuriating” said Elizabeth Armstrong, 10.
With the deaths of beloved celebrities, tragedies in Orlando, San Bernardo, and Brussels, and the extremely controversial election, it is likely that dictionaries believed it did not feel right to sum it all up with an uplifting word.
“Pretty much any word with a negative connotation applies because it was not a happy year,” Armstrong said.
Regardless of what one word encapsulates all of the events that took place in 2016, it is a new year and nobody knows what words this year will bring.