Saturday, January 7

Truthy and Facty

Living languages constantly evolve and develop. New words appear to describe new conditions, new events, or new trends. Inevitably therefore, a study of these neologisms or logomorphs will not only provide a sense of what is going on linguistically but culturally.

This past week the American Dialect Society--a group of linguists, editors and academics dedicated to studying these things--decided the word that best reflects 2005 is "truthiness," defined as the quality of stating concepts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than the facts. The organization’s panel of language experts chose the word Friday after a runoff with a host of terms related to Hurricane Katrina, such as "Katrinagate." Gee, how creative is that?

Michael Adams, a professor at North Carolina State University who specializes in lexicology, said "truthiness" means "truthy, not facty." OK. Well, that really clears things up, doesn't it?

The experts agreed the most useful newly minted word was "podcast, "a digital MP3 feed containing audio or video files for downloading to an iPod or an iPod clone. In a runoff for the most creative new word, "whale tail," the appearance of a thong above the waistband, beat out "muffin top," the bulge of flesh hanging over the top of low-riding jeans.

So, "podcast" is pretty good. But then, what Apple product isn't? The others? I'm thinking that maybe somebody needs to work on these a little more!

The irascible and indomitable American humorist Mark Twain once asserted that, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is like the difference between lightening and the lightening bug.” Given these new logomorphs, that's self-evidently truthy and facty.

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