Looking back at a century in words; Every year is marked by events which influence the way we define our lives - and our language. Finola Lynch reports.
Or did your year peak when the sex wonder drug Viagra was launched, which spawned the phenomena of born-again geriatrics claiming to have rediscovered their stallion prowess, not to mention a plethora of bad taste jokes.
Will 1998 be remembered as the year when Digital TV was launched? Or will pictures of submerged towns like Shrewsbury and Bewdley hit by a swollen River Severn last month stay in your mind long after the year has passed?
With the Millennium on the horizon headlines have been dominated by the progress of the Greenwich Dome, but 1998 has also seen the start of a manufacturing recession and an obsession with national interest rates now regulated by the Bank of England.
Every year is marked by events, political and social which have influenced the way we define our lives. A glance at the Collins English Dictionary Millennium Edition illustrates the words which came into common usage in every year of the 20th century, pr oviding an interesting document of what shaped the 1900s.
The origins of words varies dramatically from year to year, depending on an important event, a scientific discovery or a trend in popular culture.
Politics understandably dominates our constantly changing language. In 1918 the word Bolshie came into currency, following the Russian Revolution, but just one year later the word Fascism entered the lexicography.
Born within a year of each other, both diametrically opposing ideologies went on to dominate the political landscape of the century.
The first half of the century was also dominated by two world wars, which also introduced words such as Tank, Air Raid, Jeep and Radar. The word which defines the 20th century has already been picked - Television - but other technological advances have d efined years.
Hovercraft was coined in 1959, Ceefax in 1974 and Information Superhighway in 1993.
But the Collins dictionary has also selected words which suggest cultural or social trends can have just as much impact on our lives. The word Nylon sums up 1938, Bikini in 1942 and Discotheque in 1951.
As the first teenagers came into their own and London started to swing words like Miniskirt, Moog Synthesizer and Montezuma's Revenge started to appear in every-day speech.
In our current decade Ethnic Cleansing, National Lottery and Road Rage have appeared, with Blairite defining 1997 when Labour seized power for the first time since 1974.
1998 may be almost over but you can still make your mark and be pounds 1,000 richer. Collins is running a competition to find a word which defines this year. It is open to individuals and schools.
The best school entry will win pounds 1,000 of Collins books for their school while the best individual entry will get a fat cheque for the same amount. Twenty runners-up will win a Millennium Edition of Collins English Dictionary worth pounds 29.99.
The Post's nomination is Viagra but there are plenty of ideas to choose from.
How to Enter
Write your word clearly on a postcard and say in a tie-breaker sentence of not more than 15 words why you feel it defines 1998.
If entering as a school, mark your postcard clearly 'School' and send it to: Define 1998, HarperCollins Publishers, 77-85 Fulham Palace Road, London, W2 8JB. Closing date is December 31, 1998.
Winners will be chosen from the people who vote for the most popular word.
Collins lexicographers will judge the winning sentence. Winners will be notified by post.
1900: Labour Party
1902: Teddy Bear
1905: Sinn Fein
1910: Girl Guide
1911: Air Raid
1913: Isotope (n one of two or more atoms with the same atomic number that contain different numbers of neutrons)
1914: Vorticism (n an art movement initiated by Wyndham Lewis)
1912: Dada (n nihilistic artistic movement)
1917: Cheka (n the secret police set up by the Bolshevik government)
1925: British Summer Time
1929: Maginot Line
1934: Belisha Beacon
1935: Alcoholics Anonymous
1932: Mickey Mouse (adjective)
1937: Dil, Taoiseach
1939: Walter Mitty
1943: Dam Busters
1947: Flying Saucer
1949: Big Brother
1953: Rock and Roll
1954: Teddy Boy
1952: Angry Young Man
1958: Silicon Chip
1922: Montezuma's Revenge (n Informal an acute attack of infectious diarrhoea)
1923: Rachmanism (n extortion by a landlord of tenants of slum property)
1924: Moog Synthesizer
1922: Cultural Revolution
1927: Pulsar (n any of a number of very small extremely dense stars)
1928: Fosbury Flop (n a modern high-jumping technique)
1929: Lunar Module
1970: Butterfly Effect (n chaos theory)
1975: Fractal (n Maths, a figure or surface generated by successive subdivisions of a simpler polygon or polyhedron)
1972: Punk Rock
1977: European Monetary System
1978: Test-Tube Baby
1979: Rubik Cube
1982: Compact Disc
1982: Mexican Wave
1988: Acid House
1989: Velvet Revolution (n the peaceful overthrow of the Czechoslovak communist regime)
1990: Crop Circle
1991: Ethnic Cleansing
1993: Information Superhighway
1994: National Lottery
1995: Road Rage
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||The Birmingham Post (England)|
|Date:||Dec 4, 1998|
|Previous Article:||Magisterial look-alikes; Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra Symphony Hall.|
|Next Article:||Naive retort to shady dealings; The sacking of Viscount Cranborne was a mistake which opens a new rift in the Tory Party, says Chief Feature Writer...|