The 2019 Words Of The Year Prove 2019's Been Rough
Wooooo! End of the decade! We made it people, we're finally approaching 2020, a year that sounds so on-the-nose futuristic sci-fi made it passe thirty years ago. But now that it's here, are we all getting stoked for what 2020 will be like? Will people still be saying the word "stoked?" Probably not. But we do know the words that we'll definitely be bringing into the new decade. And they are stone. Cold. Bummers.
The year is almost over, which means 62% of all media is now just retrospectives of 2019's top 90 superhero movies and most WTF Twitter brand smackdowns. But there is one type of lookback list that's an actual good litmus test of what truly occupied our fried minds the past 345 days: the Word Of The Year. Merriam-Webster's, easily the most popular one, just announced its most looked-up and talked about word of 2019: They. And it's easy to reckon why the (now officially defined) nomenclature for non-binary folks has gotten a lot of hits. Not only does its definitions get looked up by the regular crowd, confused people needing insight into its meaning and perhaps their own, but also by countless semantic Nazis (that's Nazis who pretend they're not actual Nazis through semantics) who love to copy/paste cold definitions in attempts to deny humanity to people whom they think need Samuel Johnson's approval to exist.
But there's an even more interesting trend in the 2019 WotY's, one best defined as "oh god, oh god we're all going to die." Beyond depressing words like "existentialism" and "cancel culture," the gross of WotY's all has to do with one subject -- climate change and its denial. The Oxford Dictionary has "climate emergency", the Collin's English Dictionary went with "climate strike" and the Cambridge Dictionary had "upcycling," the ecological practice of repurposing old ruined objects to prepare for us all becoming raider hobos in the upcoming climate apocalypse.
That all seem very ... divisive, which is also a new trend for WotY's. In the early 2010s, they were still mostly empty buzzwords, words like "vape" or "selfie" or "that emoji that's laughing so hard it's crying". But second half of the decade saw people's people's vocabulary going a bit dark and angry from some inexplicably orange reason. Words of the year became concepts like "fake news" and "toxic" and "dumpster fire," shifting from pissing off the kind of conservative who writes angrily pedantic letters to the New York Times' crossword editor to pissing off the kind of conservative who posts "there are only two genders" memes on social media.
And it's worrying that the linguistic vibe we're bringing into that most futuristic of decades isn't hope or wonderment, but an alienating denial. Or just fear, fear that, both literally and figuratively, things don't look like they're going to cool down.
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