Sunday, January 7, 2018

Is Fake News a Dumpster Fire?

How did 2017 end and how will 2018 start?  In word terms, I mean.  We can easily find out about 2017 - there's a word of the year.  Wikipedia defines the word of the year:  "The word(s) of the year, sometimes capitalized as "Word(s) of the Year" and abbreviated "WOTY" (or "WotY"), refers to any of various assessments as to the most important word(s) or expression(s) in the public sphere during a specific year."

The official dictionary sites report on the most searched word of the year and seems to be based on quantity - statistics rather than quality - assessments. The English Oxford Living Dictionaries says that the word of the Year for 2017 is... youthquake, defined as ‘a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people’. has this word: Complicit.   Merriam-Webster's 2017 Words of the Year is Feminism, followed by dotard, gaffe, syzygy, and others. The Collins Dictionary word of the year is... Fake News.

Wikipedia looks to the American Dialect Society for the definitive word.  Members in the 129-year-old organization include linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, editors, students, and independent scholars, according to the ADS release.

Their word of the year is "Fake News." The society chose the phrase on Jan. 5th. They defined it as “disinformation or falsehoods presented as real news” and “actual news that is claimed to be untrue.” It was selected for “best representing the public discourse and preoccupations of the past year.”  What did they have to say about it?

“When President Trump latched on to fake news early in 2017, he often used it as a rhetorical bludgeon to disparage any news report that he happened to disagree with,” said Ben Zimmer, chair of the American Dialect Society’s New Words Committee. “That obscured the earlier use of fake news for misinformation or disinformation spread online, as was seen on social media during the 2016 presidential campaign.”

Here is the ADS' full list of words over the years.  And how does fake news relate to dumpster fire?  ADS' word last year was dumpster fire - (US, slang) A chaotic,unpleasant, unmanageable thing, situation or person:  a disaster. To find out about the origins of this expression, look at the Huffington Post article

In the personal realm, there is a movement that seeks out a word to define one's year ahead. This kind of choosing relates to New Year's Resolutions.  Take a look at for more on this.

Here are two of my favourite locations - the underground walkway at rush hour in Toronto's Scotia Plaza and the Charles Daley Park willow tree.

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