Linguists note that the Twitter symbol has created social trends in politics, pop culture and beyond
Not long after Oxford American Dictionary called “gif” its word of the year, the American Dialect Society has voted “Hashtag” (“#”) as the word of the year for 2012. And, although it may prompt many adults to roll their eyes, the decision made by 250 experts, including linguists, lexicographers and historians, signals that social media-spawned symbols-as-words are here to stay. (And it could have been worse: “Hashtag” beat out the verbal abomination that is “YOLO,” an acronym for “You Only Live Once,” popularized by rapper Drake).
For those unfamiliar with the term, a hashtag is a word or phrase attached to a “#,” used on Twitter to organize tweets and create trends. “This was the year when the hashtag became a ubiquitous phenomenon in online talk,” explained Ben Zimmer, chairman of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society. “In the Twittersphere and elsewhere, hashtags have created instant social trends, spreading bite-sized viral messages on topics ranging from politics to pop culture.”
As the New York Times notes, the Society has generally picked words with staying power, like “occupy” and “bailout.” Unlike those two words, however, let’s hope that the use of “hashtag” stays within the realm of online banter.
Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. More Prachi Gupta.
More Related Stories
- Ai Weiwei releases heavy metal music video
- Actually, Beyoncé is a feminist
- Marc Maron and Michael Ian Black's epic Twitter battle
- Cannes: Directing 101 with James Franco
- Welcome to the jungle: The definitive oral history of '80s metal
- Burt Bacharach opens up on daughter's suicide
- Steven Spielberg to produce "Halo" television series
- Amazon set to launch fine-art gallery
- Twitter torches Dan Brown's "Inferno"
- Brad Pitt keeps breaking his silence on how boring marriage to Jennifer Aniston was
- Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac" to use porn star body doubles
- New Beyoncé single leaked
- The sweet, sure to be short-lived "The Goodwin Games"
- Damon Lindelof admits barely-clothed scene in "Star Trek" was "gratuitous"
- Justin Timberlake: I'm a mediocre folk singer!
- Ray Manzarek, founding member of The Doors, dies at 74
- Beware of book blurbs
- Did a Salon excerpt ruin Penn Jillette's chance to win "Celebrity Apprentice"?
- Zach Galifianakis to take formerly homeless woman to "Hangover 3" premiere
- Seth MacFarlane will not host Oscars again
- "SNL's" uncomfortable Garner/Affleck moment
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11