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Joan Rivers had her end-of-the-year review of celebrity fashion and picked her Fash-ho of the year (Christina Aguilera); “The Soup” devoted two shows to re-cycle the 40 silliest TV clips of 2012.  The New York Times produces its “Year in Pictures.”  All movie critics are compiling lists of the best movies of the past year just a couple of weeks before the Oscar nominations are announced.  Music Choice has put the top 100 songs of 2012 on TV on demand, with Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” taking top spot.

There’s something about the week between Christmas and New Year’s that calls us all to recollect and reflect not only on our personal achievements – and what, perhaps, we’ve been slack about (fodder for 2013’s New Year’s Resolutions?) but also the achievements of our culture – what had made the news in 2012.

Given our propensity to create new words and concepts, the events of 2012 have produced a great selection of neologisms.

A few have come from politics.  We’ve had Romney’s “binders full of women” and “47 percent,” both causing him a lot of trouble on the campaign trail, and, thanks to the Republican Convention, we can now add “Eastwooding” to our vocabulary.

Some are simple to figure out, like “doga.”

Yes.  That means doing yoga with a dog.

There are some that we wish we had never heard, like “legitimate rape.”  And then there’s the “fiscal cliff.”

And some I am still not sure what on earth they mean – like the “Higgs Boson.”

Disasters, understandably, claim a lot of our attention with “Superstorm,” “Snor’Eastercane,” and “Frankenstorm” all used to refer to the storm that hit the East coast just before Halloween.  That storm also birthed the terms “Sopo” and “N.P.Z.” for “south of power” and “no power zone” respectively.

But many of the new terms are lighthearted and come from entertainment and cultural trends.  Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert deftly combined comedy and politics by highlighting the significance of “Super PACs” in election campaigns, going over the process of creating one of his own on air and clarifying their use.  He raised just over one million dollars this year, of which almost $800,000 will be going to Hurricane Sandy relief.

One of the goofiest trends of the year – besides pony dancing “Gangnam style” à la the year’s most-watched viral video at over a 1 billion views – has been “pet shaming.”  Dog and cat owners have been posting pictures of their pets with signs around their necks indicating their offenses.

 

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Music has given us the “mike drop” – of which I distinctly remember Beyoncé as one of the pioneers at the VMAs of August 2011 when she “mike dropped” to both dramatically emphasize “an outstanding performance” and her small baby bump.  Yet another music term that was not created this year but which has gained more currency in 2012 is “swag.”

My favourite – and, for this time of year, most fitting – neologism also comes from music.  I had not heard this acronym before last week, perhaps because I have not paid attention to the 2011 Drake song “The Motto” that is the impetus for “Yolo.”  It stands for “You Only Live Once,” and, of all the neologisms, perhaps that’s the best idea to carry forward into the New Year and act conscientiously upon once January 1st rings in at midnight tonight.

Happy New Year.

–  Eleni Anastasiou, December 31st 2012

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