Monday, December 21, 2009

weekly writing coach: buzzwords & tools

They may not always taste like honey, but buzzwords sure are sticky--especially at year's end, when wordsmiths look back to determine which buzzwords were stickiest. The New York Times Week In Review offered its list of 2009 buzzwords, but bemoaned the new lows hit by terms like "Octomom" and "jeggings" (those would be jean leggings), saying, " if ever there were a year to put buzzwords before a death panel, this would be it, before the aporkalypse comes"--and neatly working two more of 2009's buzzwords into that sentence.

In good social-media fashion, the Times then asked readers for their buzzwords of 2009, and got a curmudgeon's-worth of complaints about the state of the English language (to be fair, they started it). So "guest lexicographer" Grant Barrett, editorial director of Wordnik, a social media site about words, added a postscript noting that the buzzwords were to reflect trends, not commentary about whether the words were good or bad. Then he wrote:
If you took this as an opportunity to peeve about language rather than findsomething joyful and exciting in it, then, I fear, you have fallen out of love with the best tool you ever had. Go study any other language for a while and when you come back to English you’ll kiss your dictionary. Or at least caress the binding a little.
And while you kiss that dictionary, check out Wordnik. I agree with Steve Rubel that it's much more than an "online dictionary," as it bills itself--you can use it as a meeting-ground-of-the-minds with other wordsmiths.

Feel free to leave your buzzwords or your favorite stomping grounds online for writers in the comments.

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