Author Topic: "refudiate" as word of the year  (Read 6123 times)

maria balina

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"refudiate" as word of the year
« on: November 29, 2010, 10:14:50 PM »
Hi, Mr. Carillo!

Why did Oxford Dictionary choose "refudiate," a word mangled by Sarah Palin, as word of the year?  Can you please tell me the objective in choosing a word for the year?

Thanks a lot!

Maria Balina

Joe Carillo

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Re: "refudiate" as word of the year
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2010, 09:28:26 AM »
I don’t know the detailed methodology of how the New Oxford American Dictionary chooses its so-called “Word of the Year,” but in its media release through PR Newswire-US Newswire last November 16, 2010 announcing “refudiate” as “Word of the Year for 2010,” it gave the following general description of the selection process:

“Among their other activities, lexicographers at Oxford University Press track how the vocabulary of the English language is changing from year to year. Every year, the New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year is debated and chosen, with the selection made to reflect the ethos of the year and its lasting potential as a word of cultural significance and use.”

Here’s its specific justification for the choice of “refudiate” as “Word of the Year for 2010”:

An unquestionable buzzword in 2010, the word refudiate instantly evokes the name of Sarah Palin, who tweeted her way into a flurry of media activity when she used the word in certain statements posted on Twitter. Critics pounced on Palin, lampooning what they saw as nonsensical vocabulary and speculating on whether she meant “refute” or

From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used “refudiate,” we have concluded that neither “refute” nor “repudiate” seems consistently precise, and that “refudiate” more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of “reject.”

Although Palin is likely to be forever branded with the coinage of “refudiate,” she is by no means the first person to speak or write it, just as Warren G. Harding was not the first to use the word normalcy when he ran his 1920 presidential campaign under the slogan “A return to normalcy.” But Harding was a political celebrity, as Palin is now, and his critics spared no ridicule for his supposedly ignorant mangling of the correct word “normality.”

Was the choice of “refudiate” as “Word of the Year” by the OUP-US politically motivated? I don’t think so, but it definitely has huge marketing and publicity value for OUP-US considering the popularity of the personality associated with the new linguistic coinage. And, of course, Sarah Palin’s political supporters understandably seized the opportunity to turn a word choice debacle on the part of the former US vice-presidential candidate into a wordsmithing triumph. They did so—and are continuing to do so even today—by making big publicity hoopla for “refudiate” in the US and international media as an inspired word creation rather than the wrong word choice that it really was in the beginning. 

By way of background, the New Oxford American Dictionary, NOAD for short, is a single-volume dictionary of American English compiled by American editors at the Oxford University Press. It is published by Oxford University Press USA (OUP USA), which is Oxford University’s second major publishing center after OUP UK. A nonprofit corporation, OUP USA publishes works that further Oxford University’s objectives, including its objectives of excellence in research, scholarship, and education.

Read the OUP USA media release on “refudiate” as “Word of the Year for 2010” now!

Check out the corporate website of OUP USA website now!