Words of the Year 2022

Located at kilometer 0, in Tehran, Iran, this tower was built to celebrate 2 500 years of Iranian/ Persian civilization. Originally called the Gate of Cyrus, then the Imperial Gate, it ended up being called Shahyad = Shah Memorial Tower, on its inauguration in 1971. It was renamed Azadi = Freedom Tower after the 1979 revolution. It is included here as a symbol of hope for the people of Iran. It was designed by Iranian-Canadian architect Hossein Amanat, who also designed the Baháʼí Arc buildings in Haifa, Israel and the House of Worship in Samoa. He is also the architect of the Shrine of ʻAbdu’l-Bahá, currently under construction in Haifa. He came to Canada as a refugee after the 1979 revolution, and now lives in Vancouver. (Photo: Omid Armin, 2019, Unsplash)

In my retirement career as a writer of weblog posts, I try to maintain a balance between using words that almost every adult understands and some more unusual, but appropriate, words that can enhance people’s appreciation of a topic. There is no point in using hyfalutin English, if nobody understands what it means.

Rather than choosing just a single new word, I wanted to select groups of relevant words, related in different ways to each other. Many of these words refer to social justice, or at least the social situation society finds itself in towards the end of a pandemic, with a war waging in Ukraine, and with Iranian women (and many others) protesting their denied basic human rights.

Social justice entered the English vocabulary, almost two hundred years ago, in 1824. Its emphasis has evolved. Earlier, it was concerned about social rights and roles. Then came the suffragette movement to extend the vote to women, and many others, emphasizing political rights. Currently, the emphasis is on social mobility and economic justice.

January: Acronyms

The term acronym was invented in 1943 by Bell Laboratories to refer to new words like RADAR = radio detection and ranging, that had been created from the initials of the words in phrases. Except, some people want to exclude RADAR and SONAR = sound navigation and ranging, because they do not regard them as real acronyms. Both RA- and SO- use two letters to refer to a single word, radio and sound, respectively. FONO has similar challenges.

On my daily to do list, I have managed to write two items: 1) painting (as in artwork), 2) walking. The list is actually titled, fun things to do without a computer, so writing weblog posts is excluded, as is playing a synth – which is nothing more than a computer musical instrument. But it is not the only thing left out. Leaving Cliff Cottage to socialize is just not worth the effort, much/ most of the time. HOGO = “hassle of going out” is used as an acronym, but probably inaccurately. A more honest acronym would be FOGO = “fear of going out.” Perhaps, HOGO is subsumed in FONO = “fear of normal” which has largely replaced FORO = “fear of running out,” common at the beginning of the pandemic, applied to toilet paper and other necessities, real or imagined. This replaced the pre-pandemic FOMO = “fear of missing out.”

February: -fluencer

There are lots of new terms related to influencers. Quantitatively, one website wants to use the following multipliers: nano influencers with 1K–10K people following; micro influencers with 10K–100K; macro influencers with 100K–1M; and, mega influencers with 1M+ followers. Apart from the last one, these defy convention. Purists believe there should be influencers (i) with 1 – 999 followers, kiloinfluencers (ki) with 1 000 to 999 999 followers, and megainfluences (Mi) with 1 000 000 or more followers. At every level there are also fake influencers, paying for followers and engagement, so they look more influential than they are.

Personally, I don’t even like the term influencer, despite its English origins in the 1660s. I continue to live in hope that others will refer to me as a doyen = a senior member, as in age, rank, or experience, of a group, class, profession, etc., a term with French origins, at almost exactly the same time. I prefer it to the more modern, maven = expert or connoisseur, with Yiddish and Hebrew origins.

A finfluencer is a social media influencer who focuses on financial and other money-related topics. Like other influences, their job is to encourage people to buy particular services.

A silvfluencer is a middle-aged or elderly person who encourages people, typically queenagers, to buy items such as clothing and make-up by recommending them on social media. A queenager is a middle aged or older woman, who leads a busy life, dresses stylishly and enjoys having fun. Sometimes these people are so old they are referred to as coastal grandmothers, who embody the simple, elegant style of rich, older women living by the sea on the east coast of the United States. Many of these are part of the elastic generation, between 50 and 70 who are well off and have a broad range of interests, seen by the advertising industry as consumers who are likely to spend a lot of money.

Planet placement involves conversations/ products/ services related to environmental issues, to raise the audience’s awareness of climate change/ environmental destruction. Presumably, this would include references to probiotic architecture = buildings that can host bacteria that help keep people healthy. If pets are involved, barkitecture may be part of the solution.

Readers are encouraged to start their own influencer careers, that involves only their families and friends. If that seems too massive, start off with just yourself, then gradually scale up to ten followers. A free, hosted weblog is an appropriate place to start. Set an achievable goal, such as an annual posting. Some people may prefer to post photos, or other graphic content, without any words. Others may prefer spoken words (as in podcasts) rather than written words. In the blogosphere there is a place for everyone.

When I first came across sponcon, I thought it referred to spontaneous content, rather than sponsored content. This is equivalent to one of my favourite phrases, native advertising. Wikipedia mentions its origins with Hallmark Hall of Fame, a television series that started in 1951. Native refers to the matching of product form and function with the platform upon which it appears. In other words, the product and content are merged. For example, an advertorial is an advertisement in the form of editorial content, a portmanteau = blend, of the words advertisement and editorial. Product placement = embedded marketing, a precursor to native advertising, places the product itself within the content. Think of a frosted glass of root beer on the tray attached to a woodie station wagon with a surfboard, parked at an A & W drive-in in Everett, Washington.

March: Unicorpse

The word unicorpse, seems to have been first used in Aileen Lee’s Welcome to the Unicorn Club 2015: Learning from Billion-Dollar Companies. The word appeared again in Nick Bilton’s  Is Silicon Valley in Another Bubble . . . and What Could Burst It? (2015).

Companies fail for different reasons, but a lack of focus on the product or service and target customers is a big part of the reason. Burning through cash is another challenge, indicating an inability to plan and prioritize.

Founders and investors should acknowledge the existence of unicorpses = failed billion dollar startups, and spend less time and energy fantasizing about unicorns. What the world needs now are businesses that are sustainable.

According to a weblog post by Chris Joyce, a J-Score, with its 10 criteria, each subjectively rated from 0 to 10 points, can be used to distinguish unicorpses from unicorns. Unicorns earn 95 points or more.

These are, in summary: 1) There must be multiple barriers to entry other than money and marketing. 2) The product must be differentiated in several ways. 3) The product must not be a copy or newer version of an existing product. 4) The product must offer some form of controversy. 5) In order to be successful in a mature industry, a product must be fundamentally different from that offered by existing companies. 6) The product must not be a commodity, a standardized, universally distributed type of product. 7) The product must actually work/ function. It cannot just be a proof of concept/ prototype/ minimum viable product (MVP). 8) The product must not be ahead of its time. 9) The product must be salable. 10) The product must provide extreme value to purchasers.

April: Exhausted majority

More in Common, is an organization that comments on American society. They have concluded that as many as three quarters of Americans are exhausted from the tribal actions of political leaders and the media, and – especially – from having to navigate the ever-changing landscape of political correctness. This majority of Americans are the Exhausted Majority!

Today’s battleground for the exhausted majority is the office. After two years of thriving without it, and even increasing productivity, workers feel no need to return. In fact, if they do show up, it is likely to be a lonely place. The challenge facing businesses is demographic. There are fewer children being born to replace retiring workers. People in many countries express their opposition to immigration, not willing to admit that if fertility rates fall below 2.1, as they have in most developed countries, immigration is regarded as the only alternative to maintaining a workforce. A few countries, allergic to immigration, wish that robots could be a viable approach.

The Population Reference Bureau (PRB) provides the following fertility rates for 2022. Niger is at the top with 6.7 births per woman. Iran has about 1.7 according to PRB, but other sources state 2.1, almost exactly the same as the replacement rate. In Europe, Italy is one of several countries that has a fertility rate of about 1.3. Other sources state that the average age for first-time mothers in Italy is 31 years old, the highest in Europe. In Norway, PRB says the fertility rate is 1.6, but other sources indicate that it is back up to just under 1.8 after falling to under 1.5 in 2019. Other PRB figures: India = 2.1; USA = 1.7; Russia = 1.5; Canada = 1.4; China = 1.2; Ukraine = 1.0. South Korea, Macau and Hong Kong have the lowest fertility rates in the world, at 0.8 births per woman.

In an attempt to find other phrases containing majority, I came across the blind majority who, apparently, drink the kool-Aid. This usually refers to a person who believes in a dangerous idea because of perceived potential high rewards. The phrase originates with Tom Wolfe’s (1930-2018) The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968), about Ken Kesey (1935 – 2001) and his band, the Merry Pranksters, in 1964. The term also references the 1978 revolutionary suicide of 900 members of the People’s Temple, in Jonestown, Guyana, drinking Flavor-Aid mixed with cyanide. Yet, whenever I hear the phrase, the blind majority, I start reflecting on wilful blindness, as described by Margaret Heffernan (1955 – ), in her book Wilful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril (2011), and more generally a legal term about a situation in which a person seeks to avoid civil/ criminal liability by intentionally keeping themselves unaware of facts.

Other phrases include the non-majority, the minority, who are bucking a trend; those who are following the crowd, conforming to majority beliefs, opinions or practices; and crowd-pleasers, saying something the majority wants to hear.

May: Ruscism & more

At one level Ruscism/ Rusism/ Russism can be regarded as a form of ethnic discrimination applied to Russians, and people of Russian ancestry, especially since the start of Putin’s special military operation on 2022-02-24, that everyone else refers to as a war. Like all forms of ethnic, religious and cultural discrimination, it is not something to be condoned.

Since this Russian invasion of Ukraine has had so many implications, some related variations will be examined.

Russism (русизм) was popularized, described and extensively used in 1995 by President of the unrecognised Chechen state, Ichkeria, by Dzhokhar Dudayev (1944 – 1996), who saw the military action by Russia in Chechnya as a manifestation of the rising far-right ideology. He described it as: “a variety of hatred ideology which is based on Great Russian chauvinism, spiritlessness and immorality. It differs from other forms of fascism, racism, and nationalism by a more extreme cruelty, both to man and to nature. It is based on the destruction of everything and everyone, the tactics of scorched earth. Ruscism is a schizophrenic variety of the world domination complex. This is a distinct version of slave psychology, it grows like a parasite on the fabricated history, occupied territories and oppressed peoples.”

The variant рашизм = rashism/ rashyzm, has its origins in the 2008 Russian-Georgian war. It became popular in Ukraine after the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. It refers to Russian fascism generally, and is often used specifically to refer to Russian military forces occupying parts of sovereign Ukraine. In both Ukrainian and Russian it is written the same way, but romanized as rashism in Russian, and rashyzm in Ukrainian.

Symbol of the Russian troops invading Ukraine in 2022. A combination of the Saint George’s ribbon and the letter Z, both associated with Rashism, which has been compared to the fascist swastika (and called zwastika) Illustration: Anahoret

On 2022-04-23, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated: This country will have a word in our history textbooks that no one has invented, which everyone is repeating in Ukraine and in Europe – ‘Ruscism’. It’s not just random that everyone is saying that this is Ruscism. The word is new, but the actions are the same as they were 80 years ago in Europe. Because for all of these 80 years, if you analyse our continent, there has been no barbarism like this. So Ruscism is a concept that will go into the history books, it will be in Wikipedia, it will be [studied] in classes. And small children around the world will stand up and answer their teachers when they ask when Ruscism began, in what land, and who won the fight for freedom against this terrible concept.”

June: Leat

A leat is an artificial watercourse dug into the ground, especially to supply water to a watermill or its mill pond. Paul and Rebecca Whitewick used the term in a video describing the Hereford and Gloucester abandoned canal tunnels.

This prompted me to reflect on the use of other archaic water terms, where the acre-foot is the most problematic. An acre is traditionally defined as the area of one chain by one furlong = 10 square chains = 22 x 220 yards =4 840 square yards = 66 x 660 feet = 43 560 square feet. By international agreement an acre is exactly 4 046.856 422 4 m2. When a surface area of one acre is covered by one foot of water, the result is 1 613.333 cubic yards = 43 560 cubic feet = 325 851 American gallons = 1 233.48 m3. This forms a cube approximately 35 feet 2 inches = 10.72 m in all three directions, to the closest inch or cm, respectively.

Note #1: Videos about canals, trains and buses are entertaining! One of videos we watch repeatedly is All Aboard! The Country Bus which is a two-hour journey through the Swaledale valley in North Yorkshire, first shown in 2016.

Note #2: Thankfully, the length of a chain has been standardized at 66 feet. Before 1834, a Scots chain was about 74 feet and an Irish chain 84 feet, adding even more confusion.

Note #3: When we have to translate acres into something understandable, we use these approximate values. For larger areas: 1 km2 = 250 acres, while 1 000 acres = 4 km2; For smaller areas: 1 000 m2 = 0.25 acres, while 1 acre = 4 000 m2.

July: Cibarsi

There is an group of emerging nations, known as the BRICS, from the names of member nations. In alphabetic order these are: Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa. Except, now they appear to have admitted two new members, Argentina and Iran. To help these nations find a collective name for themselves, I have used an anagram solver. The one name that attracted my attention was cibarsi, an Italian word meaning to feed on, or to eat. Since Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria and Türkiye have also expressed an interest in joining, I am encouraging everyone to find an inclusive name or phrase for this extended group.

A totally unrelated group of states is DACH, majority German-speaking states of Central Europe (except Liechtenstein). From Deutschland in German for Germany, Austria in Latin for Austria and Confoederatio Helvetica in Latin for Switzerland. Dach means roof in German. The term DACH+ is sometimes used to include Liechtenstein. DACHS = badger in German, includes German-speaking South Tyrol in Italy.

Since American families typically have long and convoluted histories of immigration, one creative activity is to invent an inclusive name that includes much of that geography as possible. Here is the anagram solver that could be helpful.

August: Prindel

Prindel, possibly spelt prndl, is the mechanism on a car, used to select: park-reverse-neutral-drive-low. Before, people called them a gear selector or, possibly incorrectly, gear lever. This appeared on an episode of Munro Live, with Carl Crittenden talking about the Nimbus One electric vehicle (EV), a tadpole = reverse trike = three-wheeled vehicle with two wheels up front and one in the back. The prototype was being tested at Kettering University, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2021-03-01 Nimbus stated the price of a Nimbus Halo would be US$ 6 420, with deliveries expected worldwide in mid to late 2022. By 2022-09-01, the name had been changed to Nimbus One, the price to US$ 9 980, and the delivery date to late 2024.

On 2022-08-17, Stellantis presented an Dodge Charger Daytona SRT electric concept vehicle, expected to enter production in 2024, and displacing the current ICE versions. While Stellantis stated that the reason for this vehicle is performance (read: burning rubber), another motivation is saving US$ 609 million in civil penalties for Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) fines arising from missed emission targets.

The Charger EV is probably the antithesis of other EVs in other ways, especially because of three features:

R-Wing: intended to increase aerodynamic efficiency while maintaining the Charger’s characteristic bulky front-end.

eRupt transmission: a multi-speed electro-mechanical transmission with distinct shift-points (jerks), rather than a smooth transitions from one gear to the next.

Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust: a fake exhaust note made so that the EV sounds just like an ICE vehicle. While this may appeal to muscle car enthusiasts, it will offend everyone else.

Fratzog is a Dodge term and logo that was used between 1962 and 1976 (some say 1981), especially on high-performance Dodge models. The logo contains a fractured deltoid composed of three arrowhead shapes that form a three-pointed star. Elwood Engel (1917 – 1986) was Chrysler’s chief designer, but for me it is unknown who came up with the meaningless Fratzog name for the logo, when pressed. It stuck, and was incorporated into assorted badges/emblems and integrated into the design of such parts as steering wheel center hubs and road wheel covers.

Prior to this, Chrysler’s chief designer, Virgil Exner (1909 – 1973), had introduced a radical Forward Look redesign of Chrysler’s vehicles that was the design language for the 1955 – 1962 model years, that featured a Flookerang logo, with two overlapped boomerang shapes, representing space-age rocket-propelled motion.

Logos: The Fratzog (left), used by Dodge, and the Flookerang (right) used by Chrysler more generally,

September: Fictosexual

A fictosexual is a human being sexually attracted to a fictional character. I am not a member of this clan, especially if I restrict myself to fictional book characters. In Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons universe, there are, admittedly, three potential objects of attraction: Susan Walker, Ruth (Nancy) Blackett and Margaret (Peggy) Blackett. Television opens up some greater possibilities with The Avengers, whose characters include Cathy Gale, portrayed by Honor Blackman (1925 – 2020), Emma Peel, portrayed by Diana Rigg (1938 – 2020), and Tara King, portrayed by Linda Thorson (1947 – ), a Canadian. So that I do not completely offend American male readers, I will also mention Honey West, with the title character portrayed by Anne Francis (1930 – 2011).

I searched fictional male character women find most attractive, in order to find a suitable result for women readers. The first result was disappointing. If I selected a random romantic novel depicting the Regency period, Duke would probably emerge. The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains is about an unnamed ranch hand, working at the Sunk Creek Ranch, located outside of Medicine Bow, Wyoming. The novel was written by Owen Wister (1860-1938) in 1902, but set in the 1880s. For those who prefer a more graphic approach, Classics Illustrated #150 is available. Numerous film and television versions, have been made.

October: Lox in Uptober

On 2022-10-02 an innocent email appeared, with a link promising information about The English Word That Hasn’t Changed in Sound or Meaning in 8 000 Years. Obviously, an ideal candidate for word of the month, provided a few criteria are changed/ overlooked. The article was written by Kyrgyzstani journalist Sevindj Nurkiyazova, but dates from 2019-05-13.

We learn that the word is lox, which is probably Proto-Indo-European, was pronounced the same then as it is now in modern English. Then, it meant salmon, and now it specifically means smoked salmon. With the exception of delicatessen owners, and their patrons, I am not sure how much the term is actually used in English. It probably entered English through Yiddish, a West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews. However, variations of lox = salmon, abound. The Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in German is Lachse; in Icelandic and Swedish it is lax; in Danish and Norwegian it is laks. In Finnish, it is Lohi. In many slavic languages it is losos. Further west and south there are salmo variations, such as the English salmon, the Dutch zalm, the French saumon, the Spanish salmón, the Portuguese salmão, and even salmo, in Esperanto. The Interlingua-English dictionary, confirms that salmon in Interlingua refers to the English noun salmon: 1. Salmo salar, the fish salmon; as well as 2. the color salmon. This is to be expected in a constructed language based on Romance languages.

Uptober is another word found the same day. This apparently refers to the month where bitcoin is going to turn around and increase in value. In 2013-10, one bitcoin was worth about US$ 192. This rose to a peak of over US$ 65 000 in 2021-11. Since then it has generally fallen in value. On 2022-11-10, the price was US$ 15 742.44.

Other -tober references encountered during the month include: inktober, for people interested in pen and ink drawings. On Halloween, cobwebs and dust loose their status as dirt, and become decorations. Then, as midnight approaches, it is Oct-over.

November: Surdism

Watching a BBC video, The Surprising Story of Kid’s TV, the surprising part of it was that children’s television included hosts who were a little different. It might be a northern English dialect, an origin in the Caribbean, Down syndrome, the absence of an arm or (for teen programs) a non-binary sexual orientation. Sometimes, it might even involve children. At the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the BBC showed Belfast children laughing and having fun, and children from dysfunctional families. The surprise I wanted to investigate more, related to deafness, and the use of signing.

With the internet, one is always being led on to the next exciting topic.

First there was Deaf View/Image Art (De’VIA), visual art that represents the Deaf experience and Deaf culture. The term was first defined and recognized as an art genre in 1989. The De’VIA manifesto outlines criteria for De’VIA works: representative of Deaf experiences; use of specific artistic strategies such as color contrast and centralized focus; visual fine arts and alternative media; not exclusive to Deaf artists and not inclusive of all Deaf artists.

This led to: Arnaud Balard (1971 – ), who was born deaf, but who became increasingly blind. He is best known for his Surdism manifesto. Surdism as an artistic, philosophical and cultural movement offers an affirmation of Deaf culture. Surd (English) = sourd (French), which remains the principal word for deaf. In appeared in French as a noun from 1540s. It arrived in English about the same time, 1545–55. It is derived from the Latin surdus = muted, deaf.

Balard also created the Sign Union flag. Wikipedia tells us: After studying flags around the world and vexillology principles for two years, Balard revealed the design of the flag, featuring the stylized outline of a hand. The three colors which make up the flag design are representative of Deafhood and humanity (dark blue), sign language (turquoise), and enlightenment and hope (yellow). Balard intended the flag to be an international symbol which welcomes deaf people.

The Sign Union flag, designed by Arnaud Balard

Note: Here at Cliff Cottage, hearing can be a challenge. Trish has used hearing aids since her early forties, while I have had tinnitus since my early fifties.

December: Hogamadog

A hogamadog is a snowball used to start a snowman – by rolling it through a snowfield, so it gradually becomes increasingly bigger. More generally, it is something that increases in size as it spirals outwards from a central core. According to Paul Anthony Jones, who found it in the English Dialect Dictionary, as a word that began life as a local name for the shell of a snail.

Other dialect words mentioned in the article are: adullamite = someone dissatisfied with the current political outlook; barleyhood (Tudor) = crapulence (defined by Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784) as sickness by intemperance) = hangover; boun = to decorate a home with evergreen branches; bull week = the week leading up to Christmas Day, when workers had to tie up all their loose ends ahead of the holidays; flapdoodler = a dissembling political speaker, in 19th-century slang; fyole = a dusting of snow; grantism = political cronyism and nepotism, after President Ulysses S. Grant (1822 – 1885) awarded more than 30 of his friends and relatives high-profile positions in the early 1870s; kirsmas-glass = a toast to a house given at Christmas; present-silver = money given in place of a gift, used since the 1300s; propine = pourboire (originally French) = Trinkgeld (originally German) = money to be spent on drink; roorback = a rumour circulated for political gain; sonrock = a cosy fireside chair; toe-cover = an inexpensive but pointless gift; whullup = a gift given to curry favour; yuleshard (a corruption of yule’s jade) = a festive fool, someone who leaves work unfinished on Christmas Eve.

Special mention: -flation

Throughout 2022, there have been many new -flation terms circulating, especially with the onset of supply-side inflation, since the pandemic. From the 1960s, until now, most inflation has been demand-side, where consumers have too much money to spend, and the price of products and services increases. The common cure is to increase interest rates, so that people are discouraged from borrowing, and encouraged to save. Supply-side inflation is due to production issues. Increasing interest rates does not alleviate the problem. Both price controls and rationing have been used to restore order.

Greedflation uses inflation as an excuse to increase prices more than necessary in order to make as much money as possible. Greenflation results in a similar price increase, but it is caused by moving to more environmentally friendly options. Ripflation arises when companies use inflation as an excuse to increase their prices more than necessary in a way that rips off (= cheats) their customers. Skimpflation involves a situation where the price of a product or service stays the same but the quality becomes worse. Cash stuffing = saving cash in a different envelope for each type of purchase, is a financial strategy that involves saving cash instead of investing it, in order to beat inflation. Cash? The only cash I have is one (1) 10-krone coin, shared with Patricia and kept in our car, used to release a shopping cart, and to ensure that the cart is returned to a designated collection point before leaving the shopping centre.

A Norwegian language article on the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation website about the price of eggs, provides some numbers for discussion. In 2022-06, 18 Eldorado brand eggs cost NOK 32.90. On 2022-07-01, the price of eggs was increased to NOK 37.40. In 2022-09 the price increased yet again to NOK 37.90. But, at the same time, the number of eggs was reduced from 18 to 12. The price per egg had increased from NOK 1.82 to NOK 3.16, a price increase of 74%. This was termed krympflasjon = crimpflation = shrinkflation. In marketing, this psychological trick is referred to as barely noticeable differences. Marketers hope that customers won’t notice the difference.

On 2022-12-14, at 06:36 the Norwegian Language Council (Språkrådet) announced that krympflasjon is the Word of the Year 2022. Council director Åse Wetås said: [It] summarizes 2022 in an striking way. There are many who experience difficult times because of the price trend we has seen so far.

Word to avoid in 2022 (and beyond): Metaverse

Metaverse is a word that has been nipping at my heels the entire year. It was actually the word of the month for January, until it was replaced. It also resulted in an emphasis on social justice.

Metaverses are found in two flavours. 1. In the beginning there was a science fiction concept, of a shared, realistic, and immersive computer simulation of the real world or other possible worlds, in which people participate as digital avatars. 2. This diverged into a networked online space inhabited by people in digital environments who interact and experience a shared virtual space with virtual reality, augmented reality, game consoles, mobile devices and/ or conventional computers.

In 2022-04, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel (1990 – ) told the Guardian that Snap avoids using the term because it’s pretty ambiguous and hypothetical.

This was followed in 2022-05, with Amazon senior vice president, devices & services, David Limp stating if he asked a few hundred people what they thought the metaverse was, he’d get 205 different answers with no common definition.

By 2022-07, Mark Zuckerberg (1984 – ) had commented that he believes Apple and Meta are in a very deep, philosophical competition to build the metaverse: “This is a competition of philosophies and ideas, where they believe that by doing everything themselves and tightly integrating that they build a better consumer experience. And we believe that there is a lot to be done in specialization across different companies, and [that] will allow a much larger ecosystem to exist.”

Then in 2022-10, Tim Cook (1960 – ) responded: “I always think it’s important that people understand what something is…. I’m really not sure the average person can tell you what the metaverse is.”

Looking at other social media products, in the week after Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, on 2022-10-27, there have been several controversial developments at Twitter: Senior management are fleeing; ordinary workers have been threatened with mass firing; hate content has multiplied; advertisers are pausing their spending; veryifying an account will cost a monthly fee. In response, users are terminating accounts.

Colin Harrison, emeritus professor of literacy studies, University of Nottingham, writes in a letter: I’ve spent much of the last 10 years researching how best to educate young people into becoming safe, confident internet users, but this becomes more difficult every day. Academics and teachers need to let Musk know that his thoughtless and dangerous behaviour does not broaden democracy. Instead, it supports the view, already held by tens of millions of Americans, that if you don’t like the world that democracy has given you, you simply use money and violence (amplified by social media) to eliminate it.

On 2022-11-02, Tik-Tok admitted that: [W]e allow certain employees within our corporate group located in Brazil, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States, remote access to TikTok European user data.

Meanwhile, …

Oxford Languages has awarded goblin mode their 2022 Word of the Year, best reflected the ethos and mood of the past 12 months. The slang term is defined as a: type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations. The term first appeared on Twitter in 2009, and went viral in 2022. Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Languages, stated: It captured the prevailing mood of individuals who rejected the idea of returning to ‘normal life’, or rebelled against the increasingly unattainable aesthetic standards and unsustainable lifestyles exhibited on social media. People are embracing their inner goblin.

While Word of the Year is typically based on analyzing language data on the popularity of emerging words, in 2022 Oxford Languages held a public vote with over 300 000 people participating. About 93% favored goblin mode, against metaverse and #IStandWith.

There will be no discussion of gaslighting, Merriam-Webster’s word of the year, 2022. Instead, people will be advised to investigate this and other such words in an appropriate Wikipedia article.

Other contenders

Other word of the month contenders, that didn’t make the grade in 2022 include: Clerihew = 4 line poem; Psychotronic = paranormal.

Word of the Year: Necessory

Necessory is a noun that combines necessity with accessory. It is not to be confused with the adjective, necessary. A necessory is an appurtenance that one can not live without. Personally, I regard a Pilot V-ball 0.5 mm pen with blue ink, a necessory when awake and dressed; a 5 meter tape measure, with millimeter markings is a necessory in the workshop; a hand-held device aka a cell phone or mobile phone, is a necessory most 21st century people cannot leave home without. I would like to thank my dear wife, Trish, for inventing this word.

For those who avoid using appurtenance on a daily basis, it is often defined as something associated with another, more important thing. In other words, it is an accessory. The plural, appurtenances, refers to equipment: clothing/ tools/ instruments, used for a specific purpose. In other words, gear.

Two of my personal necessories, an A-5 notebook with yellow cover, and a Pilot V-ball pen with 0.5 mm tip and blue ink. Inside the notebook 4 mm squares allow one to create scale drawings, as well as text. I use pen, rather than pencil, because of the contrast. As the felt pen writing on the notebook shows, one is not restricted to just using a necessory. Sometimes other products are more appropriate. This photo was taken with another necessory, an Asus Zenfone 9 hand-held device.

Social Justice

In 2022 social justice has involved opposition to a war in Ukraine. Thus, many military terms have entered people’s vocabularies since 2022-02-24, when the world was forced by Russian attrocities to remember the words of Carl von Clausewitz (1780 – 1831), [Vom Krieg (1832)] On War (1984): War is a mere continuation of policy with other means (Chapter 1, title of section 24).

Ukrainian geography is better understood. Increasingly, some people can even place the Donbas = Donets basin, on a map, along with Mariupol, the Sea of Azov, and the Carpathian mountains. Odes(s)a has been Vancouver’s sister city since 1944. Crimea is no longer just known for its 1853 – 1856 war. Kyiv has effectively replaced Kiev as the spelling of Ukraine’s capital. KyivNotKiev is StratCom Ukraine =the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) online campaign for strategic communications, that started 2018-10-02 had a goal to persuade English-language media to use Kyiv (Ukrainian Київ) instead of Kiev (Russian Киев).

In Snidanok. Online, Oleksandr Avramenko (1971 – ) encourages writing russia in all lower-case letters, and states this is a Ukrainian language rule since Soviet times, but not codified in the current Ukrainian orthography, allowing/ encouraging the names of disparaged people, such as hitler (1889 – 1945) or putin (1952 – ) to be written this way.

The expression I appreciate best is Затридні = Inthreedays = In three days, which refers to Russian statements that it would take Kyiv in three days, at the beginning of its special military operation, a euphemism for war. It now describes any strongly believed, but unrealistic plan. Завести трактор = Start the tractor, refers to: the use of unusual methods / tools, specifically tractors to drag abandoned tanks.

At the beginning of the war there was Saint Javelin, a mime created by Toronto broadcaster Christian Borys (1986 – ), which has now raised over US$ 1 million in funding for children in Ukraine. Soon javelin, stinger, NLAW = next generation light anti-tank weapon, manpad = man-portable air defense system, referring to guided surface-to-air missiles, were part of a common vocabulary. APC referred to an armoured personnel carrier. Similarly, T-64, T-72, T-80 and T-90 were commonly understood to refer to Russian designed battle tanks. Then there is the high mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) and the Patriot surface-to-air missile system.

The term drone was used as early as World War I to refer to towed aircraft used in target practice. One of the first descriptions of a drone as an unmanned aerial vehicle, appeared in a Popular Mechanics article in 1940-12. Lee de Forest (1873 – 1961) and U. A. Sandabria (1906 – 1969) were described as working on a robot television bomber, effectively a drone. Today, people are more specific, distinguishing a Shahed-136 kamikaze unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from a Bayraktar TB2, a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV).

Some military terms are more psychological than others. There are six situational awareness centres in Ukraine. Ukrainian infowarriors = programmers, at these centres are responsible for Delta = a dynamic battlefield map/ software package showing battlefield positions/ movements. Its purpose is to predict enemy moves so they can be struck faster and more accurately.

These centres have an informal feel, They use Agile techniques = short cycle creation: code, test, launch, repeat. Ukraine has a younger, less hierarchical political culture, where there are more and better horizontal links between units, military and civilian. There is an absence of military uniforms, and the presence of a drone workshop with engineers perfecting a light activated bomb release mechanism on an off-the-shelf quadcopter, fitted with 3D printed parts. Aеророзвідка (aerorozvidka) = aerial reconnaissance, involves drone operators and programmers. One cannot function, without the other.

Then there is the open source intelligence (Osint) department, where date and location data is extracted from social media posts written by Russian recruits, along with satellite imagery supplied by Nato partners, drone footage, photos and information supplied by informers behind Russian lines. These are all fed into the Delta battlefield map, which is accessible to military users through Starlink satellite communications. Delta’s integration of battlefield information is an essential part of a competition Ukraine has to win to survive, with computers as weapons, and data as bullets.

To gain a better understanding of war, I watch a weekly video made by Perun, an Australian military-industry analyst. To gain a better understanding of the Ukrainian language, I study Ukrainian with Duolingo four days a week (M-Tu-Th-F), the other three days are devoted to Dutch (Sa-Su-W).

The war has also influenced our purchasing behaviour. Whereas before, Russian radios and Chinese cars might have been considered for purchase, both amateur radio operators in our family have acquired American made radios, and our upcoming electric car originates in Europe. Acquiring products has become more difficult, because globalization with outsourcing and just-in-time inventory policies are not working for the benefit of ordinary people.

Soon, it will be 2023, and the focus of words for the year will change from social justice to environmental justice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.