Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

Most Creative Word of the Year

Posted by Neal on January 5, 2008

A tenured professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine. A frequently sought-after speaker in medical schools and teaching hospitals. Author of many journals articles, book chapters, and books, including There Is No Gene for Good Teaching: A Handbook on Lecturing for Medical Teachers and Creative Medical Teaching. Coauthor of many more, including Physician As Teacher and Preceptors as Teachers: A Guide to Clinical Teaching, with Thomas L. Schwenk; and Executive Skills for Medical Faculty and The Chief Resident as Manager, with Elaine Weiss. Literal-Minded readers, it is my great pleasure to introduce to you… Neal Whitman!

Neal Whitman comes to you tonight courtesy of the American Dialect Society’s winner of the Most Creative category for the 2007 Word of the Year. It’s not the word you’ll be reading about in the newspapers today, the overall Word of the Year winner; that honor belongs to subprime. Yes, I’m here in Chicago at the 2008 Linguistic Society of America conference. The ADS always has its annual conference concurrently, and makes annual news with its selection of Word of the Year. This year for the first time, I attended the voting, so I got to hear firsthand the votes for all the categories: Most Useful, Most Euphemistic, Most and Least Likely to Succeed, and others.

The winner for Most Creative Word of the Year is a portmanteau of Google and the German loan-word Doppelgänger, which means a lookalike (literally “double-goer”). It’s the person (other than yourself) that comes up when you Google yourself. You might not have one; the Tensor has just informed me that he doesn’t. Or you might be like the gentleman who spoke in favor of this word before the voting, a person who never even appears in the top 100 Google hits for his own name: one David Bowie. Or you might be like me, with exactly one Googlegänger.

3 Responses to “Most Creative Word of the Year”

  1. Viola said

    Under my maiden name, my Doppleganger/Googleganger is a very well known Dutch actress/pornstar. Good thing I got married.

  2. […] Girl is Mignon Fogarty (no Googlegänger for her, I’m guessing), and it’s no wonder I kept seeing her podcast on iTunes. Since […]

  3. Eh? Me Worry? said

    Google IS a portmanteau “Go + Ogle”
    this is what they want us to do.

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