2009’s Word of the Year Is…

Posted on December 16, 2009. Filed under: Social Media, Twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Can you guess what word in the English language was used more than any other in 2009?

Hint: It begins with “T” and ends with “R.”

Figured it out?

Yep: Twitter wins this year’s word popularity contest.

So says The Global Language Monitor, which recently declared that Twitter rose to the top of the most-favored word heap, where also-rans include Obama, stimulus, 2.0, deficit, healthcare, transparency and foreclosure.

Making the most of strict limitation

In an announcement about this finding, GLS President Paul Payack is quoted as saying:

“In a year dominated by world-shaking political events, a pandemic, the after effects of a financial tsunami and the death of a revered pop icon, the word Twitter stands above all the other words.  Twitter represents a new form of social interaction, where all communication is reduced to 140 characters. Being limited to strict formats did wonders for the sonnet and haiku.  One wonders where this highly impractical word-limit will lead as the future unfolds.”

Impractical, eh? Tell that to the reputed 44.5 million people who use Twitter to send an estimated 27.3 million messages per day.

Less is more

There are times when I might like to have more characters per tweet (and in fact there are services that enable you to send longer messages via Twitter). However, there is something to be said for the ingenuity required to craft a compelling message constrained to 140 characters. It can be challenging to construct such a brief missive that grabs attention. You have to be sharp. Concise. Precise.

There’s an art to writing an effective tweet. And there are even books to help you acquire this special skill; such as 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form by Dom Sagolla.  The self-described Elements of Style for social media messaging, claims to be the “first writing guide specifically dedicated to communicating with the succinctness and clarity that the Internet age demands.”

Back when I went to school, it was imperative to learn how to write essays. Nowadays, it’s critical to understand how to pick and choose a few well-chosen words for effective articulate communication.

If not a sonnet or haiku a Tweet may perchance be considered Shakespearean. After all, the great Bard of Avon wrote, “brevity is the soul of wit.”

FYI, in Shakespeare’s day, wit primarily referred to intelligence — as in getting by on one’s wits.

So here’s to Twitter, 2009’s Word Of The Year and a new barometer for the essence of acumen.

– Deni Kasrel

What are your thoughts on Twitter being named 2009 Word Of The Year? Comments welcome.

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