The Buzzwords of 2009 in the Frum World


mishpachaThe following is from the pages of Mishpacha Magazine:

In a year of recession, our strongest currency was language. And over the next few weeks, North America’s eminent lexicographers, grammarians and linguists will decide which word accrued the most social value of all.

The buzzwords of 2009 hold a mirror not only to what shaped the headlines but also to the breakneck speed at which we saw language evolve. On Jan. 8, members and friends of the American Dialect Society (ADS) gathered to review the submissions for ‘word of the year’ and ‘word of the decade’- and, in what’s become the lexical equivalent of the Man of the Year, bestow the distinction on the coinage which best represents the cultural, political and emotional change that occurred over the past year.

Among Barrett’s 2009 nominations are: “aporkalypse,” (describing worldwide hand-wringing and panic over swine flu) and “Great Recession,” (a reference to the current economic downturn in an echo of the Great Depression). Other words nominated by fellow language experts, include: “Botax,” (a proposed levy that would be charged on cosmetic procedures to help pay for U.S. health-care reform) and “he-cession,” (an economic downturn in which more men lose their jobs then women), Cash for Clunkers, (a government-sponsored program in which older automobiles were exchanged for pollution credits or rebates on newer and more fuel-efficient models), Government Motors, (a nickname for General Motors, which is now partly owned by the Federal government as a result of receiving bailout funds), and Obamacare, ( Federal system of health care sketched out in broad, ambiguous terms by Pres. Barack Obama.)

“By designating a particular word or phrase as emblematic of 2009, we highlight some event or person that mattered to lots of us in the past year. But we also do something more: we highlight the process of language change itself,” says a ADS spokesman.

Previous winners of the ADS’s Word of the Year include bailout (2008), weapons of mass destruction (2002), 9/11 (2001), soccer mom (1996), and information superhighway (1993).

Nominees for ‘Word of the Decade” include ‘A.D.D,’ ‘the real-estate bubble’, ‘multitasking’ and ‘Ground Zero’.

This got us, at Mishpacha, thinking. If the frum community had to choose a word or term that best symbolizes the past ten years in our world, what would it be? Some around the office suggested the phrase ‘kids on the fringe’, first coined by the Jewish Observer in a landmark issue on the topic. Others suggested ‘Charda’l,’ an acronym of charedi-dati leumi that hammered home the identity crisis of many religious Zionists post the expulsion of Gush Katif.

Now, we are inviting our readers to submit their selections; all entries will be included in a drawing for a complimentary six-month subscription. In addition, the one who submits the phrase, word or term our panel of judges likes best will win a subscription as well.

Submissions are welcome at Share your thoughts below as well.

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  1. I’m going to enter, I wouldn’t mind a subscription to a really fine and entertaining magazine that I can’t otherwise afford.
    But I do hope that whoever you get to judge doesn’t OD on the leitzanus!

  2. Chardal has been a well used word for the last twenty years, describing talmidim and bnei yeshiva of Mercaz harav and other Hesder and Nationalistic yeshivos…….. it is quite dusty for year 2009.