22 December 2011

Two for the Price of One

< dust off >
I don't have time to properly put together a new blog post, but this will do for now. Both for enjoyment and for instruction.

If you haven't known about Dinosaur comics before now, please click on either comic to check out the backlog of comics. Ryan North is one of those consistently funny people you sometimes come across on the internet.

< /dust off >

20 July 2011

Lumos, Squibs and Mundungus, Too

Last week, in honor of the final movie based on the last half of the final book in the series, wordnik.com wrote about the language and words of Harry Potter.

Something fans of the series have known all along is that J.K. Rowling enjoys populating her wizarding world with words and phrases from various areas of science, language and life. Some of them are more obvious, like 'squib.' In our world a squib is a firework that emits sparks without exploding but in her's it's a nonmagical (or magically deficient) offspring of magical parents. Other words aren't noticeable unless you know the original. Dumbledore is the name for the greatest headmaster Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has ever seen. Rowling states she she named him after an Early Modern English word for bumblebee because she 'imagined him walking around humming to himself.'

She also appropriated Latin for her own uses, altering words such as 'lumen' (light) into the light-giving spell 'Lumos!' or 'reparare' (repair) into 'Reparo!', a spell for, well, repairing. Because of her use of real Latin words in her fake magical spells, there are many people who take issue that she is teaching real magic to children. The only thing real about the spells Rowling created for Harry Potter is their basis in the real language of Latin.

Since we're on the subject of spells, let's look more closely at my favorite, and by favorite i'm referring to the Rowling's creation of the words of the spell itself, not what it does in the stories. If you talk about magic or magicians, the first spell people think of is 'abracadabra,' the nonsensical word stage magicians often say when pulling a rabbit out of a hat, or putting a woman sawed in two back together. The word itself is now nonsense, but as close as linguists and philologists can pin down, 'it seems likley that abracadabra [...] derives from one of the Semitic languages, though nobody can say for sure.' Rowling makes a not-so-subtle nod to this word with the Killing Curse, 'Avada Kadavra.' Not only is the curse a close homophone to the nonsensical word we already know, but the second word is 'kadavra,' also a near homophone to the word 'cadaver,' or dead body. This phrase, too, has history. According to a 2004 interview with Rowling, avada kedavra is an ancient spell in Aramaic meaning 'let the thing be destroyed.' She said it was directed at illnesses. She turned it around on its head and made it her own.

I think Rowling's inclusion of this little word-snack is one of the subtleties you don't notice on the first read, but that help make the world more vibrant and real. In fact, the use of names like Skeeter (a term for an annoying pest) and Mundungus (a worde describing either waste animal product, or poor-quality tobacco with a rancid smell) help explain the characters before we even 'meet' them.

Excuse me, all this talk of Harry Potter has me reminiscing. I think i need to go reread the books, again.

(For more language of Harry Potter, visit LanguageRealm.com.)

11 June 2011

Effing Buffalo

A friend of mine once postulated that the eff word was the most versatile in the English language. As someone who has taught English in another country, he can make this claim more genuinely than, say, a college student attempting to excuse swear words in an essay.

My friend's reasoning was that eff can be used as a noun, a verb, an adjective or an adverb. No other word can claim to be the four most common types of words we use to build our sentences.

A noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. Basically, if it exists, it's a noun: 'What do you effers think you're doing?'

A verb is action. It moves, helps or allows nouns to exist: 'Eff this class, i don't need it.'

Adjectives are descriptive words. They give color to nouns: 'Badges? We don't need no eff'ing badges.'

Adverbs do the same as adjectives, but with verbs: 'Can we stop? I'm tired of eff'ing running.'

You could even string them together: 'Eff'ing eff off eff'ing eff'er!' Sure, you sound like Jay from Jay and Silent Bob but it's doable, that's the point.

Recently, i came across another word that's even more versatile than eff. Well, it's not true that i recently learned of the word. I've known it for years, but it was only the past month that i became aware of how it can be used in more ways than the usual.

The word? Buffalo.

It's obviously a noun. That large beast we sing about in 'Home on the Range' ('Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam...') as well as various cities across the United States, like Buffalo, New York.

Speaking of Buffalo, NY, they are the home of the Buffalo Bills, which illustrates the use of buffalo as an adjective. It's not as pronounced in its 'adjectivity' as 'snowy' or 'green,' but it's an adjective none the less.

It doesn't end here. Buffalo is also a verb. To buffalo someone can mean either to confuse them or to intimidate them. I can almost imagine how both definitions came from the great beast of the plains.

Since 'buffalo' is a noun, a verb and an adjective, we can correctly write 'Buffalo buffalo buffalo.' A synonymous sentence would read 'North American bison intimidate other North American bison.' To obfuscate things further, let's try out 'Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.' This could read ''North American bison from the city of Buffalo, New York intimidate other North American bison, also from the city of Buffalo, New York.'

If you think that's the extent to which this absurdity can go, i have a quote from The Princess Bride to answer. You'd like to think that, wouldn't you?

Linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky has stated that you can string together any number of 'buffalos' together without any punctuation or any other words and it will also be a legitimate sentence. Since Dr. Chomsky is considered to be one of the fathers of modern linguistics, i think we can take his word for it.

So despite how versatile the eff word can be, it appears buffalo reigns supreme. Which is good. Gives us all one more reason not to swear when we're trying to show off our linguistic skills.

28 April 2011

Computers and Language: Part 2

I had to do a bit of dusting to this blog, it's been unused so long. My lenten fast from the internet didn't lend itself to writing an entry, which i didn't take into account when i promised a sequel to this entry. Well, now that the cobwebs are gone and the countertops have been wiped clean, let me get to the point.

Every year since 1991, Dr. Hugh Loebner has offered up a prize of $100,000 to whomever can create a computer program that can pass the Turing Test and pass itself off as a human. The test was thought up in the 50s by Alan Turing in a paper that questions how we understand the idea of machine intelligence.

The basic premise for the test pits humans and machines against one another, but not in the way we've seen on film. Neither Schwarzenegger nor Will Smith have any part of this test. The way Turing proposed to test machines was to give a judge five minutes to converse with both a computer and a human, then determine which was which. If computers ever got more than 30% of the vote, Turing stated we could consider them as thinking machines.

In 2009, journalist Brian Christian took part in the test, put on by Loebner. Since the year previous was a dismal year for the Confederates (the humans attempting to prove their humanness), where one more vote for a computer would have put them over the 30% mark, Christian's goal was to be the best humanity could offer against the computer intelligence onslaught.

Two awards are given at the end of the test: Most Human Computer and Most Human Human. By the end of the test, after facing 12 judges in five minute chat intervals, Christian is given the certificate acknowledging him as the Most Human Human of 2009. Where 2008 was a close call, 2009 was hardly a race. Not a single computer was mistaken by a judge to be human.

As i said in Part 1, there is a small bit of chaos in our interactions with one another. In natural conversation, our minds aren't tracking out the next five things we'll say like a verbal chess match, but that's how we design computers. IBM's Jeopardy master, Watson, would be a horrible conversationalist because it is only programmed to respond in a specific and regimented fashion.

On the flip side, some of the conversations from Turing Tests in years past are quite chaotic.

Judge: it looks like i’ve got to go, Catherine. its been nice talking with you
Judge: do you need water or something before the 5 minute rounds?
Computer: OK, yes on balance … Time to get off this one I think and onto something more down to earth!
Judge: like what?
Computer: Almost certainly! let’s move on
Computer: I suppose it depends on where you’re coming from, but as the song goes in My Fair Lady, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”

The problem becomes what measure of chaos do we use on a daily basis? When we converse with one another, our personalities mix together like a margarita and create a sometimes tasty sometimes disgusting mix of conversational flow. Topics shift like the tide, ebbing and flowing with ease, revealing previously unknown beaches, covering up that which was recently exposed...

Actually, i've lost where this is going. So, let's regroup.

Oxford philosopher John Lucas said that if we fail and allow our machines to appear more human and pass the Turing Test, it will be “not because machines are so intelligent, but because humans, many of them at least, are so wooden.”

The real test of Turing is not how we can program computers to be more like us, but after the computers have become more human, what does that mean for us? How can we constantly be pushing against ourselves, against humanity, to make us the best versions of ourselves?

To help simplify that down to something manageable, let's go back to Brian Christian's article: 'A look at the transcripts of Turing Tests past is, frankly, a sobering tour of the various ways in which we demur, dodge the question, lighten the mood, change the subject, distract, burn time: what shouldn’t pass for real conversation at the Turing Test probably shouldn’t be allowed to pass for real conversation in everyday life either.'

03 March 2011


I had things come up today that took away my time i was going to use to write part 2, so to hold the fort until tomorrow when i (probably) will finish up, here is a short article on the word OK that is intriguing. Enjoy!


25 February 2011

Computers and Language: Part 1

Last week, peppered amidst the news of uprising in the Middle East and Northern Africa are reports of a more more sinister nature. Well, according to the conspiracy theorists among us. For the rest of us, the computer Watson and his romp on Jeopardy was simple, light fun and a small precursor to what the future may hold for us.

This video is of the first half of the first episode airing the matchup of Watson against the two best contestants humanity could offer, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Feel free to watch the whole nine minute ordeal, but the section that interests me is at the beginning when IBM has a small documercial (documentary commercial, a word i made up for this sentence) about Watson and the team who designed him.

With Watson and IBM so prominent in the news, articles are cropping up left and right concerning machine intelligence and the day, looming ever closer, we can refer to a machine as a thinking entity.

So far, we are safe from a machine uprising. In the first of two games, Watson went into Final Jeopardy with a commanding lead over the two human opponents. Under the category of ‘U.S. Cities,’ the clue given somehow managed to trip up Watson and leave even non-Jeopardy players scratching their heads.

‘Its largest airport is named for a World War II hero; its second largest for a World War II battle.’

The correct answer: Chicago.

Watson’s answer: Toronto.

Obviously, and most North Americans would know this, Toronto is not a U.S. city, residing as it does in the grand country known as Canada.

Jennings and Rutter both answered correctly, so why did Watson get the answer so very wrong? Steve Hamm at IBM, through their Smarter Planet blog through their had an answer for us as to why Watson was so very wrong:

First, the category names on Jeopardy! are tricky. The answers often do not exactly fit the category. Watson, in his training phase,  learned that categories only weakly suggest the kind of answer that is expected, and, therefore, the machine downgrades their significance.  The way the language was parsed provided an advantage for the humans and a disadvantage for Watson, as well. “What US city” wasn’t in the question. If it had been, Watson would have given US cities much more weight as it searched for the answer. Adding to the confusion for Watson, there are cities named Toronto in the United States and the Toronto in Canada has an American League baseball team. It probably picked up those facts from the written material it has digested. Also, the machine didn’t find much evidence to connect either city’s airport to World War II. (Chicago was a very close second on Watson’s list of possible answers.) So this is just one of those situations that’s a snap for a reasonably knowledgeable human but a true brain teaser for the machine.

The problem Watson ran into what partly due to its programing and training--not putting as much weight on the category as was necessary--and partly due to the wording of the question.

Jeopardy, as difficult as it can be due to the puns and wordplay often involved in the clues, is a static medium. There is always a category, always a clue, and always an answer question that answers the clue and fits within the category. It’s not the fluid, dynamic web of language we call a conversation.

As Dr. Katharine Frase states in the documercial, normal humans communicate more in a style she calls ‘open-question answering.’ There is a small bit of chaos in our interactions with one another.

This idea of chaotic conversation leads to more roads, and another blog for next week.

For the record, the final totals after the two games left Watson and IBM with $77,147, Jennings with $24,000 and Rutter at the bottom with $21,600. IBM says it will donate the money to charity.

10 February 2011

A Rape by Any Other Name

Last week, the Republicans in the House of Representatives removed a provision from at Act on the floor that would have been detrimental to women's rights and sent the wrong message to the public. Not to mention the damage it would do to language.

The 'No Taxpayer Funding for an Abortion Act' originated with Chris Smith, a Republican Representative from New Jersey. The purpose is pretty obvious—prevent the use of government money earmarked for health care and medicare being used to pay for abortions. The obvious goal behind this is to chip away at the current stance the government takes on abortion, with the ultimate goal to make it illegal. The stated impetus is to save government money in a time when our deficit is measured in numbers generally reserved for grade school children attempting hyperbole.

I won't get into the complicated and muddied topic of abortion; that's not in the scope of this blog, nor is it a topic i have considerable knowledge it. Suffice it to say, i know it's not always as black and white as each side paints it, so let's leave it there.

Instead, i want to talk about one word used in the No Taxpayer Funding for an Abortion Act, from this point referred to as House Resolution 3, or HR3. So much more concise. In the resolution, one passage stands out above the rest. It states the Act 'shall not apply to an abortion' if, for instance, 'the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest.' The document has since been changed to remove the word 'forcible,' but only after websites such as Mother Jones and MoveOn.org brought attention to the matter.

If 'forcible' were included in the bill, it would leave certain women up a creek without an option, for example, a woman raped while drugged, or a mentally challenged woman taken advantage of, or even certain instances of date rape.

I read a passage in President Obama's book The Audacity of Hope that rang true for this circumstance.
'Much of the time, the law is settled and plain. But life turns up new problems, and lawyers, officials, and citizens debate the meaning of terms that seemed clear years or even months before. For in the end laws are just words on a page—words that are sometimes malleable, opaque, as dependent on context and trust as they are in a story or poem or promise to someone, words whose meanings are subject to erosion, sometimes collapsing in the blink of an eye.'

What Obama refers to is the trouble we often have with interpretation of laws, often even the Constitution. We like to think of our laws, and especially our Constitution, as being immutable and firm. Firm they may be, but never immutable. The three branches of government are constantly re-examining documents and laws to further refine them.

The problem with HR3 is how it attempted to shortcut the process by refining the definition of 'rape.' Whomever was inspired to add the word 'forcible' probably thought they were being smart, removing the case for statutory rape, but being compassionate and allowing for abortions for those women who were physically beaten into submission.

Whether HR3 passes and becomes law is still to be seen, but if it does, it will allow for the original, broader and more compassionate, coverage.

03 February 2011

The Pyramids Are Revolting

In response to the recent unrest in Egypt, the government in China has been closely monitoring the internet, specifically preventing netizens from searching for the term 'Egypt' on social networking sites, as well as keeping the news coverage in official channels to the bare minimum.

Censorship in China is no new practice, even when it comes the internet. Since 2003, they have operated what is known as the Great Firewall of China to be able to prevent their citizens from gaining access to certain sites, IP addresses, and keyword searches.

When it comes to technology, especially when using it to prevent people from doing something, there are always work-arounds. For the Great Firewall, proxy servers outside of China, virtual private networks and various free programs allow, to varying extents, access to information and websites not allowed by the Great Firewall.

As for the keyword searches, there is an even easier fix: different keyword. In order to better monitor their citizens, China has their own version of Twitter called Weibo. It is one of the sites which prevents users from searching for the 'Egypt.' As any high school student in the United States can tell you, when one word is disallowed, another more innocuous word takes its place. Where Chinese citizens cannot search for 'Egypt,' they might very well be looking around for posts and articles about 'pyramids,' 'Nile,' 'Cairo,' or countless other new keywords.

Short of killing the entire country's internet, dissident information will always leak to the people looking for it. Even without internet, people are able to coordinate well enough to disseminate information, and this Wired article tells you how.

That's the beauty of language for me; like Malcolm tells us in Jurassic Park, '[language] finds a way.' As literacy grows, so does knowledge. As knowledge grows, so do the possibilities. Language and literacy are doors that open to wider worlds, not smaller. I guess that's what makes it so scary to the Chinese government.

27 January 2011

An Overnumerousness of Letters

Last week, NPR's Robert Krulwich threw down a gauntlet. He didn't know he had, but he did. He wrote an article concerning the longest word in the English language. He lists a few candidates, then goes down the list, taking them down one by one.

First there was honorificabilitudinitatibus. This 27-letter monstrosity was coined by Shakespeare for Love's Labour's Lost and means 'loaded with honors.' Krulwich disqualifies it because it was likely crafted for the sole purpose of being lengthy.

Then there is the long favorite among schoolmates, mostly because it's both fun to say, intelligent sounding and semi-comprehendible. Antidisestablishmentarianism is also disqualified as being only 'attention-grabbing hummock.' By the way, this collection of 28 letters describes the political position that opposed the disestablishment of the Church of England in the 19th century.

The word Krulwich eventually settles on is one we all know from our classic Disney films, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Invented without meaning and sung by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, this word, at 34 letters long, wins the prize for longest non-technical word, at least according to our friend at NPR.

(There are a slew of other words, mostly within the scientific community, that are far longer and even less interesting, but since they are technical, and mostly consist of stacking prefixes on top of one another to describe molecular bonds, they don't qualify, especially since they are very rarely spelled as words. The longest molecule wouldn't qualify, having published in the much-appreciated shorthand, but never written out as a word. The one that slips through is 1,185 letters long and is a tobacco protein. Yet, being a technical word, it doesn't qualify, rightfully so.)

William Lee Adams at Time NewsFeed picked up Krulwich's gauntlet and wrote his own article about long words. WIthout the technical muscle of Krulwich, he does little more than stoke the flames. Where the NPR article dismissed one word, the NewsFeed article quotes author Sam Kean's opinion of the matter with as near a final word on the matter as it gets. Kean's view is that the slang word pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis, at 45 letters long, is worthy of the title. It refers to a disease you acquire when breathing in silicon dioxide.

The NewsFeed article then lists a few slightly-off topic locals with longer-than necessary names. One is in Wales, another in New Zealand, and the longest is the ceremonial name for Bangkok. Since they are all in Welsh, Maori, and Thai, respectively, none of them qualify as the longest word in English, which is what we actually care about.

Jason Kottke briefly steps into the mix (he's always brief, so it's allowed) with his choice in the matter: twoallbeefpattiesspecialsaucelettuce-cheesepicklesonionsonasesameseedbun. It's a definitive non-word, but still fun to say: two-all-beef-patties-special-sauce-lettuce-cheese-pickles-onions-on-a-sesame-seed-bun. Kottke also links to the Wikipedia article about the longest words, which lists one none of the previous articles did.

At 35 letters, it beats out Mary Poppins by one letter, and unlike silicon dioxide it's not technical. Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia means the fear of long words. You could argue that it's redundant, since sesquipedaliophobia means the same thing, AND is used professionally. However, what we call a jaw, doctors refer to it as a mandible; both are still correct.

My vote is cast. I say hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia is the longest word in the English language. Maybe it's the humor in it all. Much like the humor in this clip from The IT Crowd.

(For the record, Negative One's word is real; Moss' word is not. I fact-checked on the Oxford English Dictionary online, which has a promotional trial through February 5. Use 'trynewoed' as both username and password for access.)

20 January 2011


I'm the first to admit my vocabulary has not grown in the last few years. I have not worked on growing it. As someone who goes on about how much he enjoys words, how important words are to our lives, i stink at learning new words to enhance my worldview. Yes, enhance my worldview. Learning a new language expands your cultural worldview. On a smaller scale, learning new words in your native language expands ways to see your own culture.

For a bit of fun, here are two videos of Conan.

Conan's Campaign to Bring Back Thrice

Thrice Returns Once More

Conan has the right idea. It seems every week there's a new word crafted that lasts about as long as a disposable cup (and i'm not talking about the styrofoam kind). For example, 'hevage' is a word created to describe male cleavage; 'facepalm' is the act of striking your face with your palm due to another stupidity; and a 'dork knob' is a short ponytail. Do we need these words? Not really.

So how does one go about learning new words? Word-a-Day Calendars?

If you'd like, yes, but a more standard answer is reading slightly above your level. Another answer is adopting a word. SaveTheWord.org lists thousands of little-used English words one can 'adopt' by pledging to use said word in everyday conversation as often as possible. I am adopting labascate, which means to begin to fall or slip. With how i walk, this will get used, i'm certain.

If you like a bit of fun to learning, try out FreeRice.com, a vocab game that donates 10 grains of rice for every correct answer. It starts out easy, then gets harder the more you succeed, until it hits upon your reading level, which is where you learn many fabulous words, like quadrennium, hydrophyte, and numismatics. I made it to level 40 without missing a word. That's right, i'm throwing down the gauntlet, to see who picks it up.

I hope i only labascate, as i invariably will, and don't succumb to the whims of gravity and introduce my face to the pavement after such an invitation for word sport. (See what a little bit of learning does?)

14 January 2011

Metaphors, Superlatives and the Political Discourse

The attack on Representative Gabrielle Giffords last week was an eye-opener and a forceful shock to the entire country. One of the debates that has begun because of the attack is one i wished had started without such a high cost. As a country, we have now begun to focus on the harsh rhetoric of partisan politics. Much of the blame has been unfairly pinned on Sarah Palin. I’ve made it a known how much of a fan of Palin i truly am (not). Yet even if i don’t agree with her politics, or her use of language, i don’t think it fair to paint her as the source of the attack, however indirect.

Yes, Palin marked a map with crosshairs over the representative seats she and other Republicans wanted to take back in the midterm elections. She also used the phrase ‘Don’t retreat . . . reload’ to describe her strategy after a loss. Couple those two together, and after Republicans lost to Giffords in the midterms in a fierce Republican district, it could be interpreted as a call to arms: if the recipient of the call had no concept of illustrative language.

We use it all the time, mostly in the form of similes, metaphors and superlatives.

A simile uses ‘like’ or ‘as’ to compare two things. (The cat is acting like it doesn’t love us.)

A metaphor uses non-literal language to describe something. (You scratch my back, i’ll scratch yours.)

Superlatives are the over-the-top language we use all too often in every day life. (That splinter was the worst pain i’ve ever been in.)

When Palin talks of reloading, and puts crosshairs on a map of United States Representatives, she is not being literal, she is using both metaphorically. Not only that, but she’s not the only political figure using language in this way. The political dialogue for as long as i can remember has been characterized by superlatives and metaphors, especially concerning war imagery. Granted, i’m only 27 and didn’t pay attention for many of those years.

Not to let Pain off the hook. (See, another metaphor; they fill our language like the air we breathe.) During a video response she filmed in response to the accusations thrown at her, she used the phrase ‘blood libel:’

Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

Being nearly eight minutes long and with the reflection of the monitor in her glasses, we know the speech was written in advance and not an off-the-cuff response, which makes her use of the term ‘blood libel’ even more astonishing. Historically, it is a reprehensible and false accusation against Jews of killing children and using their blood in religious rites. To use the term this way, especially when Gifford is herself Jewish, is not only careless, but irresponsible.

It presents a further illustration of why the language surrounding and used in our national political dialogue needs to be carefully considered and intentionally weighed for merit and value. You can try blaming the shrinking sound bite, but at least some are saying they are a symptom and not the cause of our increasingly degraded political conversation.

What we can do is applaud the politicians who are doing their best to change not only the language they use, but the environment surrounding the political discourse. A few politicians are calling for mixed seating during the State of the Union address later this month. Historically, the House and Senate have been seated according to the party line, a visible split in how our government runs. This intermingling shows promise to begin a transformation in dialogue we so desperately need.

13 January 2011

Lists: ver. 2010

It’s a universally acknowledged fact that if you are traveling through time, year end lists are your friend. They allow you to discover what year it is, as well as what happened in the previous 12 months, without attracting attention to yourself by asking such strange questions as ‘What year is it?’ or ‘Could you sum up the last year for me, in a nice top 10 list of soundbites or video clips?’, which is by far a newbie time traveler mistake.

Perhaps the most telling, if you read deep enough, are end of the year word lists. Not only do they tell us what was on our collective consciousness, they give insight into the happenings of the previous year.

For the past 35 years, Lake Superior State University released a list on New Year’s Day of the list of words they would like to ban for the coming year. The biggest source of publicity for LSSU, each year’s list is submitted by the public. In an effort to stay positive, i won’t get into the nitty-gritty of the list. Suffice it to say, they agree with me about refudiate, as well NPR’s Simon Scott concerning the phrase ’i’m just saying’. Check out the list for yourself, if you’d like: http://www.lssu.edu/banished/current.php

More interesting to me is the list compiled by the American Dialect Society. Their list is much more positive. For your enjoyment, the winners (with commentary).

Word of the Year
APP: I find it a bit amusing that the winner won’t be found in any dictionary apps on your smart phone.

Most Useful
NOM: Did you know it was based on the noise Cookie Monster makes when he destroys his food?

Most Creative
PREHAB: It’s descriptive of going into rehab to prevent a relapse. I like the second place better; the suffix -sauce, like in ‘lamesauce.’

Most Unnecessary
REFUDIATE: Did anyone like this word?

Most Outrageous
GATE RAPE: The TSA didn’t make many friends this year. They had another entry on this list under Most Euphemistic: enhanced pat-down.

Most Euphemistic
KINETIC EVENT: Who in the military thought calling a violent attack a ‘kinetic event’ would make it sound better? Also, ‘bed intruder’ had an entry in the last two categories. Google ‘Antoine Dodson’ if you have no idea what that’s talking about.

Most Likely To Succeed
TREND: Twitter is going mainstream, it seems. At least, accord to the ADS.

Least Likely To Succeed
CULTUROMICS: Try saying it. It’s awkward on the tongue. It’s supposed to describe a historical analysis of culture and language by Google. All it does it make my mouth hurt.

Fan Words
GLEEK: We can thank Dead Heads (fans of the Grateful Dead) for starting this trend of nicknaming the fans based on the source of the fandom.

So if you do happen to stumble through time and come across this list, recently published, remember the year it came from and you will reserve those crackpot looks for another time.