Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A whole different spin on a bad word

In 2006 dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster opened their "Word Of The Year" contest to on-line voters. This led to "truthiness" being chosen. I had no problem with that. The word Stephen Colbert seemingly invented had actually been listed in a few older dictionaries as derivation of "truthy" and, furthermore, Colbert's reintroduction of truthiness really caught on with the public.

It turns out that was just a fluke intersection between prudence and the Internet nut brigade that usually beats unscientific and highly ridiculous results into on-line polls. (Yes, Ron Paul supporters, I mean you.) And this year "w00t" was elected word of the year.

Some of you might remember "woot" from 1990's Pretty Woman, in which Julia Roberts' hooker with a heart of gold character shouts out "woot, woot" during a polo match, disturbing the sensibilities of the upper crust crowd. Others may remember, from the same time period, a popular hip hop tune with a chorus that enthusiastically chanted "woot there it is" over and over again.

Well that musical memory, which I must confess to subscribing to myself, would be slightly off, as the actual interjection in the Tag Team hit is "whoomp," as in Whoomp! (There It Is).

But none of that really matters because the word just elected word of the year isn't "woot," it's "w00t." Yes, those are zeros, not the letter o. Meaning this vowel-less keyboard smashup that on-line gamers apparently taunt each other with doesn't even reach the basic being-a-word qualification of pronounceability.

This would be like if next November the American people elected Lake Erie or normative isomorphism president.

Which is probably isn't too far off from what would happen if we ever held a presidential election on-line.

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