Google Defines the Aughts Decade From Hell, 2009 Year of the Tweet
January 9, 2010
(ChattahBox)—- A group of tweedy members of the American Dialect Society recently met in Baltimore to decide on the momentous decision of what single word defines an entire decade, as well as the final year of the 2000s. It wasn’t an easy decision, considering that great minds were unable to agree on a single name for the decade itself. It’s come down to the Aughts, Aughties and even Naughties. And the decade of zeros had a good run for a while. Economists called the 2000s the lost decade, as the middle class disappeared into a bottomless pit of credit card debt, home foreclosures and joblessness. Time Magazine made a good argument for naming the 2000s, the “Decade From Hell.” And certainly the mood of the decade was grim. Americans suffered through the terrorist attack of 9/11, two wars and the Bush/Cheney years that led our country into a dark period of condoning torture and violating our long cherished principles of human rights and the rule of the law. Bush/Cheney also left us with the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.
So, choosing a single word to define such a complicated decade wasn’t easy. Most of us are just happy it’s over. But in the end, the group of linguists and lexicographers settled on Internet technology. Google was chosen for the single word that defines the decade of the 2000s. And 2009 is now officially defined with the word tweet.
Some of the other contenders for a word or phrase of the decade or for 2009 were: “hiking the Appalachian trail,” “Dracula sneeze,” “sea kittens” and “unfriend.”
In the end, the group decided that Google had the most impact on their lives during the Aughts. “I think my life has been more affected by ‘Google’ than ’9/11,’ ” said a college student at the event.
And why even bother to choose a word to define an entire decade? Richard Bailey, professor emeritus from the University of Michigan said that “Language is an index of our social identity.” Another attendee, Jesse Sheidlower, author of an entire book devoted to the word “F***” believes, “The point of the word of the year thing is that choosing words reflects reality.” “If you choose wrong, you’ve failed in some important way” said the earnest author of “The F-Word.”
Well, there you have it. Our reality for the past ten years has been wrapped up in a search engine and during 2009 our lives have been changed by “tweets.”
I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry, but it is what it is. So long to the Aughts and hello to the beginning of a new decade. The next one has to be better, right?
Source: Washington Post