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Saturday, January 19th 2013

9:41 PM

I Doubled Down - and Lost

Since no money - real or imagined - was wagered, I don't know if an incorrect guess at the Word of the Year can really count as a loss. But, it is a real disappointment because my two-year win streak is over.

To recap: In THIS entry from November, I put that winning streak on the line and declared that "double down" was my guess for what the AMERICAN DIALECT SOCIETY would pick as its 2012 Word of the Year. When I wrote that entry, the group's annual meeting, set for early January, was almost two months away. So, I had a long time to consider how well I had chosen.

Honestly, I didn't think about it too often after that. But, I did think I had it in the bag in mid-December when Ben Zimmer wrote THIS column for the Boston Globe. Zimmer is a well-respected expert on language; he also happens to be the Chair of the New Words Committee for the American Dialect Society - the group that picks the WOTY. In other words, he has an "in." When he predicted that "double down" would be the 2012 WOTY, I tapped my nose and thought, "Three-year winning streak, here I come."

But, a couple weeks later, when the meeting was held and the votes were counted, the members of the American Dialect Society had chosen "hashtag" as the 2012 WORD OF THE YEAR.

Hashtag? Really? WT#!

"Double down" didn't even make the top five. Really? Were the members of the ADS not paying attention to the presidential campaign? Republicans and Democrats alike were constantly doubling down. How was this NOT the Word of the Year?

Don't get me wrong. Hashtag is a perfectly fine word to describe the # symbol. The word and the symbol have been around for years, but the popularity of Twitter has given # new prominence. It's the start of a trend, it's a verb of its own. It's "hashtag." But, it's been those things for several years now. I didn't detect any newly dominant # prominence in 2012.

I guess I was wrong. #loser #tryagainnextyear #woty
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