Monday, January 10, 2011

Around the Word

The final word on 2010 was handed down from the American Dialect Society this weekend at the Wyndham Hotel in Pittsburgh, where the cabal of linguists lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, authors, editors, professors, university students, and independent scholars crowned app ("there's an app for that") the 2010 Word of the Year. It beat out fellow nominees nom (either a noun or an interjection referring to delicious food), junk (junk shot, junk status, don't touch my junk), Wikileaks (a proper noun, common noun, and verb), and trend (a verb expressing a "burst of online buzz").

What will happen to your tweets after you die? How about your blog? Your flickr account? Have you got a plan for your Second Life avatar? "Increasingly we’re not leaving a record of life by culling and stowing away physical journals or shoeboxes of letters and photographs for heirs or the future," says The New York Times Magazine, pointing out that before long we'll be looking at pictures of Grandma's girlhood on her Facebook page. But now that we're all accrueing "masses of life-affirming digital stuff," who will execute our e-legacies--and to what end?

When you're feeling uncertain, insecure, or--dare we say it?--genuinely unprepared, the temptation to apologize to your audience is powerful. It's also, says The Eloquent Woman's Denise Graveline, an impulse to be avoided. "I was going to address the points that the earlier panelist made," "I wanted to show you photos of our lab, but...," and "I really didn't have enough time to prepare, so..." delute your message and undercut your authority. Instead, Graveline gives tips for putting a positive spin on day-of hitches, from broken power projecters to fellow panelists that steal your points.

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