Twitter Words Fly a Long Way in 2009

Article excerpt

WORDS such as Tweetup, staycation and jeggings provide a snapshot of Britain in 2009, says researcher Susie Dent.

The Countdown regular said language associated with the Twitter social networking site and the recession stood out in her scan of the Oxford English Corpus. Dent used the 2bn-word database of contemporary language to pick out her words of the last year which she believed encapsulated the preoccupations and lifestyles of 2009. She said words such as Tweetup, which means meetings organised via the website, along with Facebook references like defriend, showed the influence of technology on vocabulary. Staycation - to describe having a holiday at home rather than abroad - and the modern twist on a historic event, Great Recession, reflected the financial situation.

But she said her favourite word was the advertising catchphrase of a Russian meerkat which made a surprising entrance into common usage.

Aleksandr's "simples" has become a modern phenomenon for people to describe something that is very easy to achieve.

Dent said: "I think my favourite is probably simples, because it is proof of the dynamism of language as it is picked up through popular culture so that a word or expression is propelled into daily currency within weeks.

"We may not like it, and it may well not last, but it proves that English is moving quickly and is as robust as ever."

Susie Dent's top words of the year Bossnapping - noun: (in France) The prevention of senior managers from leaving company premises for a period of time by their employees, to protest about large-scale redundancies and cutbacks.

Zombie bank - noun: A financial institution whose liabilities are greater than its assets, but which continues to operate because of government support. …