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#ironymatters, bae

American Dialect S dodges a swipe of the selfie stick

Dear Hipster:

I just thought you should know, the American Dialect Society voted #blacklivesmatter as its Word of the Year. Sorry to the person who was hoping for “selfie stick.”

— Anne

Selfiestick couldn’t even take “most likely to succeed.”

Sometimes, the ADS selects with remarkable prescience, like nominating “trend” as 2010’s “most likely to succeed.” Other times, they prove woefully out of touch, like giving “Tebowing” a greater chance of success than “brony” in 2011. QB Tim Tebow’s teams dropped him left and right, whereas the bronies have their 2015 convention in August.

Hopefully, #blacklivesmatter will prove more enduring than feel-good, popular protest movement Word of the Year 2011, “occupy”; all but forgotten in 2015, the eponymous protest has proved less enduring than a hipster’s fingerstache. “Bae,” one of the most popularly reviled words on Reddit and Twitter, received only three votes for Word of the Year. Initially popularized in black American dialects, bae (short for baby) started to catch on with suburban teenagers imitating rappers, and some hipsters using the term ironically. That sounds to me like a bit of “columbusing” — the ADS’ “most creative” word of 2014, for when white people get into something previously enjoyed by non-white, like most non-country music, and take it mainstream, often to great commercial success, and often at great cost to the non-white parties.

In case it’s not clear why I point this out, I find delightful irony in the ADS making a show of solidarity with black communities, arguably skipping more widely relevant words, all the while enshrining the quietly racist tendencies of language itself.

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Dear Hipster:

I just thought you should know, the American Dialect Society voted #blacklivesmatter as its Word of the Year. Sorry to the person who was hoping for “selfie stick.”

— Anne

Selfiestick couldn’t even take “most likely to succeed.”

Sometimes, the ADS selects with remarkable prescience, like nominating “trend” as 2010’s “most likely to succeed.” Other times, they prove woefully out of touch, like giving “Tebowing” a greater chance of success than “brony” in 2011. QB Tim Tebow’s teams dropped him left and right, whereas the bronies have their 2015 convention in August.

Hopefully, #blacklivesmatter will prove more enduring than feel-good, popular protest movement Word of the Year 2011, “occupy”; all but forgotten in 2015, the eponymous protest has proved less enduring than a hipster’s fingerstache. “Bae,” one of the most popularly reviled words on Reddit and Twitter, received only three votes for Word of the Year. Initially popularized in black American dialects, bae (short for baby) started to catch on with suburban teenagers imitating rappers, and some hipsters using the term ironically. That sounds to me like a bit of “columbusing” — the ADS’ “most creative” word of 2014, for when white people get into something previously enjoyed by non-white, like most non-country music, and take it mainstream, often to great commercial success, and often at great cost to the non-white parties.

In case it’s not clear why I point this out, I find delightful irony in the ADS making a show of solidarity with black communities, arguably skipping more widely relevant words, all the while enshrining the quietly racist tendencies of language itself.

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