Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Words of the Year*

Teal Independents - 2022 Australian election wins
Cuadrado.jpg: Teal color by Tysk58 is licensed under CCA-SA 3.0 Unported

At a time of "permacrisis" and "gaslighting" the Macquarie judges wisely went local, embracing teal as word of the year

Written by  Roslyn Petelin, Course coordinator, The University of Queensland

The Macquarie Dictionary has announced its word of the year–“teal”–also chosen recently by the Australian National Dictionary Centre as its word of 2022. 

Teal, a colour that’s not quite green and not quite blue, is, of course, a peculiarly Australian choice. As is the Macquarie people’s choice: “bachelor’s handbag”. I wonder who came up with this as a term for supermarket BBQ chicken (and pork and beef) sold in plastic bags with handles. And why narrowly confine it to the demographic of “bachelor”? Did we really need this term? Will it catch on?

But let’s return to the Macquarie committee’s choice. The greenish-blue colour was used by several independent candidates for their promotional material in the 2022 federal election. A loosely-aligned group of female professionals turned politicians successfully challenged incumbents in blue-ribbon seats, resulting in a “teal bath”. Teal is now used as a term to cover independent centrists whose key policies support strong action on climate change and the establishment of a federal integrity commission. 

It’s easy to see how it was chosen as word of the year because it gained currency during the election campaign and has been useful ever since. “It’s not a brand-new word,” said the committee, “but a brand-new sense that no-one saw coming.” I thought at first “teal” was an odd, uncreative choice, but I have come round to it because of its serious political importance here. 

The Macquarie committee’s runner up was “truth-telling”, “the act of relating the facts of a situation, exclusive of embellishment or dilution as justification of past actions”. So, both leading committee choices are centred on the Australian political landscape of the past 12 months.Other major international dictionaries–Oxford, Cambridge, Collins, and Merriam-Webster–base their decision on data generated by the number of “lookups” registered on their online dictionaries during the year. Macquarie, however, relies on a committee of experts to choose its word of the year.

The people at Collins Dictionary have chosen “permacrisis”  to represent the extended period of instability and insecurity worldwide. Surprisingly, Macquarie’s list hasn’t highlighted the war in Ukraine or climate change. 

Merriam-Webster has chosen the psychological manipulation of “gaslighting”. Merriam has reported a 1,749% increase of “lookups” in 2022, an indication, perhaps, of the ubiquity of this horrible, manipulative practice. 

Cambridge has acknowledged the North American influence of the word game Wordle by choosing “homer” (home run).


Read more: Explainer: what does 'gaslighting' mean?


COVID virgins and cookers

Australia’s Macquarie has provided a rather colourful long-list of words spanning 14 categories with some quirky choices.

Several are related to the COVID-19 pandemic including “spicy cough” (for COVID-19 itself), “COVID virgin” (for those who have remained free of it), “pandemic brain” (for the diminished mental capacity some people have experienced, such as forgetfulness and lack of concentration), “goblin mode” (to embrace the indolence and slovenliness–supposedly characterised by goblins–brought on by the enforced isolation of lockdowns), and “cooker” (a person protesting against vaccine mandates). 

Omicron makes the list, but, surprisingly, long COVID doesn’t.A couple of other long-listed words also evoke the pandemic: “quiet quitting” (strictly limiting oneself to performing the task and hours worked as specified in one’s job description) and “e-change” (a move from the city to a rural environment enabled by being able to work remotely).

Technology is represented by “bossware” (software that allows a boss to remotely monitor and measure staff activity and productivity) and “yassify” (which allows a person to apply multiple filters and edits to an image or digital photo, thereby transforming the original to a glamorous, more beautiful version).

A choice I would classify as good and useful is “pre-bunking” (the practice of challenging the veracity of misinformation and disinformation and the authority of its source, BEFORE such information is disseminated).

One term I would classify as unnecessary is “passenger princess” to describe someone who is old enough to have a driver’s licence, but always remains a passenger.

In the fashion category, we have “Barbiecore” for the hot pink redolent of Barbie outfits. Then there’s “fauxgan” for a non-genuine bogan who dresses like a real one. How could one tell?

Most of us will have noticed the “shrinkflation” adopted by food stores, whereby products have been reduced in size and quality while prices have remained the same or, in many cases, also increased. And many will have suffered from “orthosomnia”, caused by a preoccupation with obtaining the amount and quality of sleep recommended by wearable sleep-tracking devices, thereby making our sleep quality worse.

Goblins again

If you have a hankering to express your view on the words of 2022, for the first time, Oxford has opened its award up by inviting its international readership to vote (open until December 2). It has provided three terms from which to choose: “metaverse” (the virtual reality environment), #IStandWith" (a hashtag used to express solidarity), and “goblin mode”. 

I can confidently endorse the first two, but I’m not sure about those goblins. They may claim they have been subject to discrimination.

[*This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.]

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Votes for Action

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus Ieucocephalus)
About to Launch, (Kachemak Bay, Alaska) by Andy Morffew, CCA-BY-2.0 Generic

In the past week, enough voters who identify as Independent or Republican have joined Democrats to bolster democracy in the United States, importantly with projected control of the Senatein what might prove to be one of the largest positive counters to a "propaganda of the deed" (Bolt 2020). 

Not that perpetrators of violence or blathering threats in the name of pseudo-populism will "just disappear," any more than other social sicknesses do. Still required is further action for accountability.

Yet this midterm election has delivered important positives, not least a rebuke to the "anti-" behaviors megaphoned at us all for far too long.

A coalition of voters expressed a "roar" which, for the moment, drowns out screams for the camera. Voters reasserted the ideals on which the United States of America was foundedright back at the incessant nattering of recast "nabobs of negativity," who were rejected as nihilists and exploiters of the democratic system. 

Less than one week along, with counting of votes continuing, what's sinking in is the significance. Some historians call this the best midterm election result for an incumbent party and first-term president in at least 60 years. The election result surely reaffirms many Americans' faith in "we the people."

Election workers, whistleblowers, local officials, journalists, and many more people in the United States have shown resilience against the ongoing propaganda of screamed threats, violence, and character assassinationenabling voters to speak out.

A strengthened faith of a people in their countryfolk is being echoed by more in the media. Can we hope fertile seeds are sown for more than a reprieve from a dark alternative?

Reference:

Neville Bolt (2020), "Propaganda of the Deed and Its Anarchist Origins," in Paul Baines, Nicholas O'Shaughnessy, and Nancy Snow (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Propaganda, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 3-21

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Cows & Curtains

Wallaby appreciates milk directly from a cow
This image is in the Public Domain {{PD-US-expired}}

How delightful that we gained another hour of light at the end of today, thanks to "falling back" from Daylight Saving Time, in the United States anyway. 

This bonus from frugality is a treat, especially if you've suffered through endless public wrangles sometime about the merits, or not, of setting the clocks forward in the Spring--to enable such generosity for this day in the Fall.

Tussles over the terrors of time adjustment can tear at local communities--some call theft what others call a gift of extra sunlight, to play or get extra chores done in daylight. 

Everyone seems to have an opinion. In an early local debate in Australia, one of the louder advocates for not messing with Tempus Fugit was a politician who, as a former farmer, knew a thing or two about messing with "rules of nature." He was especially knowledgeable, he said, about when the cows expected to be milked!! 

Amid others' commentaries were when children needed afternoon snacks after school, and, of course, the extra hour of tropical sunlight would fade the curtains. 

You think I'm making this up? 'fraid not--perhaps you heard equally preposterous polemic pressing panic buttons locally in your community (but hopefully not).

During deliberations on so momentous a proposition, the media generously sustains ever-prescient insights about the pros and cons, seeking to elevate each skirmish of the debate into a gladiatorial battle. Rarely was so much expended by so many about so little, as for the potential losses and gains from adjusting just sixty minutes. And thankfully some playful commentators added parody and humorous quips to the debate.

This raging public discourse for the politician was, of course, more than harmless diversion. It was just one more of the many mock controversies he stoked. His polemic helped distract attention and energy from dismantling the gerrymanders and electoral malapportionment he'd quietly installed. 

Sounding familar?

Frequently he was re-elected with a smaller number of votes than the state's two other major parties. He kept his leadership and his political party in power in coalition with one of the other parties--benefiting also from a preferential voting system. He maneuvered this with about 20 to 27% of the primary vote for five elections before defeating the "coalition party" decisively in two more elections. All this and more kept him in the driver's seat for almost 20 years.

Unfortunately, today's time adjustment doesn't provide an extra hour for voting on Tuesday... so, best plan now, which five people--neighbors, family, friends--you can help get to a voting booth (where this is still permitted by state law!!), to cast votes in the poll that matters.