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It’s WOTY Time

Hi, all --

What's your choice for Word of the Year? "Vuvuzela"? "Starwhacker"? This week, we discuss WOTY candidates, plus the name "Hawaii 5-0," the political tagline "I approve this message," internet memes, and the phrases "it is what it is" and "another country heard from." Tune in:


Big news from London: The British Library just opened its new exhibit, "Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices." Curated by linguist David Crystal, it features early editions of Beowulf, old slang dictionaries, and the earliest known example of English, "gaegogae maegae medu."

Watch Crystal talk about why he finds these words so moving.


More on the "Evolving English" exhibit, which runs through April 3. (If you go, let us know!)


On this side of the Atlantic, the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) now has a Twitter feed. Follow it here, bobbasheely.


"Bobbasheely"? You'll find that word in DARE. More about it here:


One word in the news a lot this year is, unfortunately, "bully." Mark Peters traces this word's history in GOOD magazine. You may be surprised to learn that "bully" was once a term of endearment.


BEHIND THE SCENES: We're still collecting candidates for 2010's "Word of the Year." What word or phrase best characterizes the year? It needn't be brand-new -- just newly prominent or notable. Send your WOTY nominations to words@waywordradio.org.

Happy word-hunting,

Martha and Grant

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Further reading

Nobody Knows Why Marijuana is “Pot”

Why is marijuana called pot ? Lexicographer David Maurer, an expert on underworld slang, once posited that pot is shortened from potiguaya, a term that, it turns out, isn’t Spanish. He later surmised that pot comes from potación de guaya...