‘Omnishambles’ Declared UK’s Word Of The Year

'Omnishambles' Declared UK's Word Of The Year“Omnishambles” has been named word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary. The word – meaning a situation which is shambolic from every possible angle – was coined in 2009 by the writers of BBC political satire The Thick of It.

‘A word everyone liked’

Other words included “Eurogeddon” – the threatened financial collapse in the eurozone – and “mummy porn” – a genre inspired by the 50 Shades books. The London Olympics threw up several contenders including the verb “to medal”. New words from the world of technology included “second screening” – watching TV while simultaneously using a computer, phone or tablet – and social media popularised the acronym “Yolo”, you only live once.

Fiona McPherson, one of the lexicographers on the judging panel, said: “It was a word everyone liked, which seemed to sum up so many of the events over the last 366 days in a beautiful way.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband, whose phrase “squeezed middle” – referring to those hit hardest by falling living standards – was word of the year in 2011, made the first recorded use of omnishambles in the House of Commons in April.


“Over the last month we have seen the charity tax shambles, the churches tax shambles, the caravan tax shambles and the pasty tax shambles,” said the Labour leader at Prime Minister’s Questions. “We are all keen to hear the prime minister’s view as to why, four weeks on from the Budget, even people within Downing Street are calling it an omnishambles Budget.”

‘Romneyshambles’

The word swiftly took off as a favourite term of abuse for opposition politicians attacking the government. But it also mutated on social media into humorous new variants such as “Romneyshambles” – used to describe gaffes by US presidential candidate Mitt Romney during his visit to the UK – and omnivoreshambles, referring to the row about a planned badger cull in England and Wales. But there is no guarantee omnishambles, or any of the other shortlisted words, will make it on to the pages of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Do you approve of “omnishambles” as the word of the year? Should it be included in the dictionary?

Source: BBC News

Image: Irish Examiner

‘Britishisms’ Slowly Invading American English?

'Britishisms' Slowly Invading American EnglishThere is little that irks British defenders of the English language more than Americanisms, which they see creeping insidiously into newspaper columns and everyday conversation. But bit by bit British English is invading America too.

Spot on – it’s just ludicrous!” snaps Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at the University of California at Berkeley. “You are just impersonating an Englishman when you say spot onWill do – I hear that from Americans. That should be put into quarantine,” he adds.

‘Took off like wildfire’

One new entrant into the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2012 was gastropub (a gentrified pub serving good food), which was first used, according to Kory Stamper, in London’s Evening Standard newspaper in 1996, and was first registered on American shores in 2000. Twee (excessively dainty or cute) is another “word of the moment”, says Stamper, as is metrosexual (a well-groomed and fashion-conscious heterosexual man) which “took off like wildfire”, after it was used in the American TV series Queer Eye.


‘Fairly pretentious’

We are not seeing a radical change to the American language, says Jesse Sheidlower, American editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary – rather a “very small, but noticeable” trend. British TV shows like Top Gear, Dr Who, and Downton Abbey may be another reason more British words are slipping in, as well as the popularity (and easy access via the internet) of British news sources, such as The Guardian, The Economist, The Daily Mail – and the BBC.

Webster introduced the distinctive American spellings of words like “honour” (honor), “colour” (color), “defence” (defense), and “centre” (center), as well as including specifically American words like “skunk” and “chowder”.

Though a few people do take umbrage at the use of British words in American English, they are in the minority, says Sheidlower: “In the UK, the use of Americanisms is seen as a sign that culture is going to hell. But Americans think all British people are posh, so – aside from things that are fairly pretentious – no-one would mind.”

What other “Britishisms” of the American English have you noticed? Do you also catch yourself using one?

Source: BBC News

Image: Not One-off Britishisms