WotY news and Lynneguist news

Nominate transatlantic words of the year!

It's Word of the Year season, and before the end of 2022—possibly before the end of the 11th month of 2022—every extant dictionary (and various professional associations and a few marketing companies etc. etc.) will have announced the words that they think sum up something about 2022. Here (BrE) at SbaCL Towers,* we (that is to say, I) wait until the year is at least almost properly finished before considering what 2022 was like for transatlantic English. 

So, let's do the important business of opening nominations!  As ever, the Separated by a Common Language Words of the Year categories are:

  • UK-to-US import
  • US-to-UK import
Some nomination guidance:
  • Good candidates for SbaCL WotY are expressions that have lived a good life on one side of the Atlantic but for some reason have made a splash on the other side of the Atlantic this year. 
  • Words coined this year are not really in the running. If they moved from one place to another that quickly, then it's hard to say that they're really "Americanisms" or "Britishisms". They're probably just "internetisms". The one situation in which I could see a newly minted word working as a transatlantic WotY would be if the word/expression referenced something very American/British but was nevertheless taken on in the other country.
  • When I say word of the year, I more technically mean lexical item of the year, which is to say, there can be spaces in nominations. Past space-ful WotYs have included gap yearBlack Friday, and go missing

Please nominate WotYs in comments to this blog post, where it'll be easier for me to keep track of them than if they show up on different social platforms. To see more past winners, click here.

I have a few words in mind, so I'll be interested to see if you come up with the same or different ones.

Cambridge Dictionary Word of the Year: homer

Cambridge Dictionary chose homer as their Word of the Year. I thought it was a great choice, and you can hear why here:



Homer was protested in Wordle as an "Americanism" (95% of the dictionary look-ups of it came from outside North America). It is fairly familiar in AmE as an informal term for a baseball home run, but it has many other meanings around the world. That's what happens when you take an otherwise common word and put an -er on it. Cambridge Dictionary notes that it has a special meaning in Scotland:

Scottish English informal
job that a skilled worker, such as a house painter or a hairdresser (= a person who cuts people's hair), does for a private customer in the customer's homeespecially when they do this in addition to their main job and without telling their employer or the tax authorities:
I am a fully qualified joiner looking for homers in the Renfrewshire area.

Both of those meanings derive from the noun home plus the -er for something that happens at "home".

But home can also be a verb meaning 'to go/return home', and if you add the -er suffix onto a verb, it means 'one who [does verb]'. So it gets more meanings that way, some of which are in other dictionaries. For instance, homer can mean 'a homing pigeon'. Apparently, it's often used in British crossword puzzles in this sense. Perhaps the crossworders had an advantage for the infamous HOMER Wordle. 

Tweet from Stephen Collins, 31 May: Wordle: still angry about 'homer'. It's been weeks now. Furious.
The British cartoonist Stephen Collins holds a grudge

 

News! New way to follow Lynneguist!

Since 2009, I've been doing a AmE–BrE Difference of the Day (DotD) on Twitter, and spending a lot of my time on that platform. Because of the time that the DotD required, this blog has got(ten) less frequent.

I've never run out of differences to tweet about, but the time has come to re-think how I use my online time and how I communicate with people who are interested in my work (and, more importantly, my hobbies, of which this blog is one).

This blog will continue to be where I write about UK–US linguistic differences—sometimes in a lot of depth.

But my social media presence has been about a lot more than deep dives into particular words. It's been about sharing links to interesting linguistic and transatlantic cultural information and news. It's been about sharing things I've written elsewhere or news of events I'm doing. And it's been about those Differences of the Day—shorter info about linguistic differences, sometimes linked to new or old blog posts.

So, I'm going down the newsletter route. It feels like going back to my roots, since in (AmE) grad school I ran the departmental linguists newsletter (Colorless Green Newsletter it was called) and then when I moved to South Africa, I decided a newsletter was the best way to share with friends and family the things I was learning by living there—I sent that one out (at some snail-mail expense) every three weeks—and it got to its recipients about three weeks later.

Now we have email, so I can do a newsletter on the cheap and you can get it right after I send it.
Sign up here and you will get no-more-than weekly, no-less than monthly updates on what's going on in the Lynneguist world. There won't be Differences of the Day, but there will be lots of linguistic differences to learn about or reflect on, as well as other super-interesting stuff.

Footnote 

*  Here's a link to my Difference of the Day tweet about 'at X Towers', but since I don't know how long Twitter will be around, I'll post a screenshot too:

GloWbE corpus shows plenty of instances of "here/we at  [something] towers" in British English, none in American English are in

21 comments

  1. You should get your first newsletter today or tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fingers crossed!

    ReplyDelete
  3. SbaCL Towers: I recall that on their NPR show the Magliozzi brothers, aka Click and Clack, referred to their headquarters as Car Talk Plaza, which always made me think of a nondescript suburban strip mall.

    (previous comment deleted because there is no edit function)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ditto the Language Log blog, which occasionally refers to "Language Log Towers," eg

      https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=3

      Delete
    2. Looks like you mean Language Log Plaza.

      Delete
  4. Tried 3 browsers and can’t get the button to work!

    ReplyDelete
  5. (I've also changed the link in the post. You can try again here: https://mailchi.mp/30d0ffd3a48e/separated-by-a-common-newsletter (or email me)

    ReplyDelete
  6. That worked! Thanks!

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  7. I really do think homer should be the US->UK one, even though you mentioned it already.

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  8. I think I am hearing “fit” a lot more in the US.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In what sense? It doesn't feel like at all new to me (American), but perhaps you are hearing it in a sense that would strike me as new.

      Delete
    2. pretty sure (source: watching Doctor Who a decade ago) "fit" in BrE means attractive, maybe not as intensely as "hot" in AmE

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    3. That is a sense I'm familiar with in the UK. The latest edition of Chamber (2014) gives "Highly attractive, sexually desirable (informal)".

      But I haven't been in the US for four years, so I don't know how common that usage is there.

      Delete
    4. Seems like it would be hard to tell if that meaning in the US is a UK to US transfer, or an extension of the "physically fit" meaning.

      Delete
  9. Continuing the sporting theme, the increase in coverage of women's sport has helped speed replacement of gendered terms, sometimes by hitherto American terms which (by accident or design) happen to be gender-neuter. One I've noticed is "batter" replacing "batsman" in cricket. To a lesser extend "MVP" instead of "man of the match". I haven't watched UK TV coverage of this year's cricket/rugby/soccer World Cups; those who have may refute or confirm these examples or others.

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  10. The word "homer" has been used in British soccer for many years to describe a referee who favours the home side. In the 1950s and 1960s (before the NASL) "soccer" was used all the time in Britain.

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  11. My US→UK nomination is 'EQUITY'.

    In the UK it's always been possible to use the word 'equity' in the general sense of 'fairness', but until recently it was very rarely used that way.
    The various legal and financial meanings (e.g. 'negative equity') and the name of the trade union for actors predominated.
    But something has changed recently and I'm now hearing it in its general sense all the time.
    I suspect (but cannot prove) some cross-pond influence!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would say the use in the fairness sense is more frequent than it used to be in the U.S. too. Though it's very possible that more frequent use started over here in the U.S. and moved to the U.K.

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  12. Interesting that people should complain that homer was too much an American word. I've noticed that there are some words that use the AmE spelling but assumed that since it's owned by the New York Times, that's not surprising, and in over 300 attempts, failed on the word "howdy" and figured that if I had to lose my streak on something, it was no shame if it were that one

    ReplyDelete

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Abbr.

AmE = American English
BrE = British English
OED = Oxford English Dictionary (online)