Drum roll please! Today sees the announcement of OUP UK’s Word of the Year, as chosen by Countdown’s Susie Dent. And, perhaps unsurprisingly given what is going on in the world’s economy at the moment, that word is credit crunch.
‘The world’s financial markets have been one of the biggest generators of vocabulary in the past year,’ says Susie, who is also the author of a new book for OUP, Words of the Year. ‘Specialized vocabulary is now firmly on the British public’s radar. As fears of a recession escalate, it may be productivity of the linguistic kind that is the safest bet. Credit crunch is an example of an established term – it was already in currency back in the 1960s – being resurrected as circumstances change’.
In addition to the now familiar financial terms such as Ninja loans, stagflation, funts or jingle mail, Words of the Year also looks at expressions from other areas of our lives – including online social networking, ethical living, and the world of styling – that have been ‘bubbling under’ in 2008.
It was a year when the traditional Olympic torch-bearers had to become flame attendents, when run-off – first recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary from 1873 – became synonymous with events in Zimbabwe, when Google increased its linguistic dominance thanks to our quest for Googleability, and the newer moofer (an acronym for a movile out-of-office worker) and scuppie (an acronym for a ‘socially conscious upwardly-mobile person/urban professional’) came to reflect our modern working lives.
But ultimately, 2008 is shaping up to be the year of the credit crunch, and so here’s your handy guide to just some of the entries in the 2008 bank of credit crunch Words of the Year:
NINJA LOAN – a loan or mortgage made to someone who has ‘No Income, No Job, No Assets’
JINGLE MAIL – the practice of sending back one’s house keys to the mortgage company because of negative equity, or the inability to keep up with payments
IPOD – acronym for ‘insecure, pressured, overtaxed, and debt-ridden’
HOMEDEBTOR – homeowner with a very large mortgage, particularly one that they are unlikely to ever pay off
SPEED MENTORING – a style of career- or life-coaching modelled on speed dating, in which each participant has a few minutes to seek advice on career-related questions
FUNT – someone who is Financially UNTouchable
EXPLODING ARM – variable rate mortgage with rates that soon rise beyond a borrower’s ability to pay
GOING UNDERWATER – falling into negative equity
STAGFLATION – stagnant growth and rising inflation