On the National Book Awards Winners, Obama’s Victory Tweet and the Words of 2012

November 10 to November 16, 2012

This week: the announcement of this year’s National Book Awardees in the U.S., Obama’s three-word victory tweet and responses to his reelection, the common core standards, how to refer to a “male mistress” and the words of the year from the Oxford Dictionaries.


The Oxford Dictionaries declared “GIF” (verb) as the Word of the Year in the U.S. and “omnishables” as Word of the Year in the U.K. In press releases and blog posts announcing the choices, people from Oxford Dictionaries explained the choices:

GIF celebrated a lexical milestone in 2012, gaining traction as a verb, not just a noun. The GIF has evolved from a medium for pop-cultural memes into a tool with serious applications including research and journalism, and its lexical identity is transforming to keep pace.”

– Katherine Martin
Head of the US Dictionaries Program at Oxford University Press USA.

“The Oxford Dictionaries UK Word of the Year is a word, or expression, that we feel has attracted a great deal of interest during the year to date. In the case of omnishambles, we also recognised its linguistic productivity: a notable coinage coming from the word is Romneyshambles, coined in the UK to describe US presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s views on London’s ability to host a successful Olympic Games. Other spin-off terms have been largely humorous or one-off – fromOlympishambles and Scomnishambles, to omnivoreshambles andToryshambles.”

– Susie Dent
Lexicographer and OUP Spokesperson

Why omnishambles? Well, 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. It’s funny, it’s quirky, and it has broken free of its fictional political beginnings, firstly by spilling over into real politics, and then into other contexts.

– Fiona McPherson
Senior Content Editor for Oxford Dictionaries

Here are notable tweets with #WOTY2012:

“Four more years.”

On November 7, Barack Obama tweeted three simple words that announced his victory:

Twenty-two minutes after it was posted, it became the most popular tweet of all time as featured in The Next Web, Mediabistro and BuzzFeed. Fast Company cited the tweet as a “powerful example of using social media in a community facing rather than self-centered way to leverage the powerful emotions sweeping the country to amplify the message.” The “intimate and vulnerable” image that accompanied the tweet also worked as it helped humanize the president and the first lady.

After the news broke, some, including celebrities like Lady Gaga and Cher, tweeted praises and positive messages on Obama’s reelection. But others weren’t as happy and tweeted nasty, racist comments, which, according to research, came mostly from Romney states. In a commentary, Michael Cottman noted, “The racial hatred toward President Barack Obama never ends.” A Facebook post from a woman in California used the N-word and got the attention of the Secret Service, but when asked, she denied being a racist.

National Book Awards

On November 14, were announced winners of this year’s National Book Awards in the U.S. The winners of this year’s National Book Awards in the U.S. are a mix of seasoned and first-time authors. Here’s the list of winners announced on November 14 (Click on the authors’ names to read interviews from NationalBookAwards.com.):

“If the National Book Awards are meant to be evolving into something like Britain’s much more popular and influential Booker Prize, then this year’s awards, and last night’s ceremony, are steps in the right direction,” Laura Miller wrote on Salon.com.

Other Stories

“Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch” and “must-reading.” Constance Hale launched a new book, “Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch,” discussing the moody, active-passive and time-sensitive words in any sentence: verbs. Read Elfrieda Abbe review of Hale’s book for JSOnline.com. Meanwhile, The Telegraph’s Tom Chivers pointed out an odd usage in Richard Thaler’s endorsement on the front cover of Nate Silver’s The Signal and The Noise.

“Friendly” French President.  To congratulate Obama on his reelection, French President François Hollande signed a note with a “friendly” mistake.

Racism in football. Tottenham fans have stirred controversy over using the term the “Yid Army” to refer to themselves. The Society of Black Lawyers claim the term is anti-Semitic and “[provoke] opposing fans in to chanting their own anti-Semitic songs,” while Tiottenham insist that the terms is used as “‘as a defence mechanism in order to own the term and thereby deflect anti-Semitic abuse.”

The Petraeus affair. In light of the Petraeus scandal that has been covered and illustrated in various newspapers and news sites this week, Lisa Belkin of The Huffington Post asked: “Why is there no male equivalent for ‘mistress’?” Heidi Stevens of the Chicago Tribune posed a similar question and wrote, “If Paula Broadwell is David H. Petraeus’ mistress, what is he to her?” Stevens explored suggestions from different sources and how other pieces tackled the topic, while Belkin commented on how the lack of the term reflects on society’s stereotypes.

Emerging technologies. Last week, Microsoft’s Rick Rashid demonstrated their progress on speech recognition research and building “a usable equivalent of Star Trek’s universal translator.” Meanwhile, the New York Times revealed Chronicle, a new tool that explores how language evolved using a database of Times content, and journalist Colleen Bradford Krantz launched Skew Tutor, a website that aims to help students and readers in general identify “why a news story seems biased.”

We at Project Chiron aim to encourage the use of social media for knowledge exchange and skills development. We’re not necessarily about current events; we are about relevance, credibility and innovation. With millions of content spread and shared through social media networks every day, we want to help you see what’s important so you won’t have to sweep through all your news feeds and tweets. Our weekly roundups are curated by Dan Dupale, Mina Jesuitas and Mark Hilaria and edited by Kim Palanca, Paulo Formantes and Adrian Claudio.


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