Defining 2008

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Gosh, am I glad that Web of Language blogger Dennis Baron did a roundup of 2008 words of the year -- "frugalista," "hypermiling," "Obama," and "recession," plus five finalists from Webster's New World Dictionary -- so I didn't have to do it. 

Baron missed one: "bailout," from Merriam-Webster, a less capricious choice than some of the others in that it was chosen because it "received the highest intensity of lookups on Merriam-Webster Online over the shortest period of time." (Don't examine that claim too carefully!)

The American Dialect Society will have the last word, literally, when it votes on a 2008 word of the year at its annual meeting, in January. It is now accepting nominations, so if you have a candidate, do tell. 
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Visit Barbara Wallraff’s blog, at barbarawallraff .theatlantic.com, to see more commentary on language and to submit Word Fugitive queries and words that meet David K. Prince’s need. Readers whose queries are published and those who take top honors will receive an autographed copy of Wallraff’s most recent book, Word Fugitives. More

Barbara WallraffBarbara Wallraff, a contributing editor and columnist for The Atlantic, has worked for the magazine for 25 years. She is also a weekly syndicated newspaper columnist for King Features and the author of Word Fugitives (2006), Your Own Words (2004), and the national best-seller Word Court (2000). Her writing about language has appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Wilson Quarterly, The American Scholar, and The New York Times Magazine.

Wallraff has been an invited speaker at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the National Writers Workshop, the Nieman Foundation, Columbia Journalism School, the British Institute Library of Florence, and national or international conventions of the American Copy Editors Society, the Council of Science Editors, the International Education of Students organization, and the Journalism Education Association. She has been interviewed about language on the Nightly News With Tom Brokaw and dozens of radio programs including Fresh Air, The Diane Rehm Show, and All Things Considered. National Public Radio's Morning Edition once commissioned her to copy edit the U.S. Constitution. She is a member of the American Heritage Dictionary Usage Panel. The Genus V edition of the game Trivial Pursuit contains a question about Wallraff and her Word Court column.

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