OUP Word of the Year: credit crunch

The front cover of Susie Dent's book, Words of the YearOxford University Press emailed The Engine Room this morning to inform us that the OUP UK Word of the Year – "as chosen by Countdown's Susie Dent" – is 'credit crunch'.

You can see Susie pictured here on the front cover of her new book, Words of the Year, which is published by OUP. I suspect some kind of tie-in.

Anyway, I can understand the arguments for 'credit crunch' as word of the year: it's highly topical, in common use, nicely alliterative, and so on.

But there's one very strong argument against: 'credit crunch' isn't a word, as most people understand the term – it's a phrase. A noun phrase, to be more specific.

I suppose that 'OUP Word or Noun Phrase of the Year' doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

(It's probably worth mentioning here that I went for a very appealing job at OUP a few years ago and, shockingly, didn't get it. Not that I'm bitter at all.)


So what would be your word or noun phrase of the year?

6 comments:

Chris Frumplington said...

My word or noun phrase of the year (WNPY) would, like that of the OUP, also be on an economic theme: 'fuel poverty'. If the credit crunch continues to bite, it'll probably be my WNPY for 2009 as well!

lynneguist said...

I got that e-mail too. I wondered whether they'd give free promotion to my words of the year if I do the same for them. Somehow, I don't imagine it'll happen.

But whether it's a word depends on your definition of 'word'... It's not an orthographic word, but it is a grammatical word--a noun, in that it fits in the places that a noun can fit in a sentence. (It's a compound noun that happens to be spelt with a space in it.) It's not, in that sense, a noun phrase, since it alone cannot be the subject or object of a sentence. E.g. 'Credit crunch makes life difficult'. _The credit crunch_, however, is a noun phrase on the linguistic definition. Orthographic word (strings of letters with no spaces) is not a very interesting category from a linguistic perspective. Sorry for getting all pedantic on you...it's the topic I'm teaching in my first year course next week.

On the other hand, I'd like to see Credit Crunch as a proper noun phrase, as in "Credit Crunch is my new favo(u)rite breakfast cereal!"

Cunninglinguist said...

My favourite amusing quote of the year was during a drunken conversation. To put it simple it is what would "Fritzl's Family Fortunes" be like.

Imagine the possibilities...

I cannot even put my real name to this it's so disgraceful....

JD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JD said...

I think I've spent too much time writing and editing journalese, as 'credit crunch makes life difficult' sounds fine to me. But seriously, point taken about noun phrases - ta.

I did say 'credit crunch' isn't a word "as most people understand the term" - and I stick by that. If you choose 'credit crunch' as your word of the year, then (rightly or wrongly) you're going to cop some flack.

But then, if it gets people thinking about what a word really is, then all well and good I suppose.

And personally, I think 'word or noun phrase of the year' should be shortened to 'WonPotY', which sounds like an interesting word in its own right...

Mantolwen said...

"Rick roll". It never existed before 2008. I checked, and despite how long ago it feels, Rick rolling was an early-2008 phenomenon.