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Oxford Dictionaries USA Word of the Year 2012:

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Today, Oxford Dictionaries announced the Oxford Dictionaries USA Word of the Year for 2012. Katherine Martin was one of the lexicographers on the judging panel and here are her reflections on the shortlist.

wordoftheyear-2012-GIF-final.gif

GIF verb to create a GIF file of (an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event): he GIFed the highlights of the debate

The GIF, a compressed file format for images that can be used to create simple, looping animations, turned 25 this year, but like so many other relics of the 80s, it has never been trendier. GIF celebrated a lexical milestone in 2012, gaining traction as a verb, not just a noun. The GIF has evolved from a medium for pop-cultural memes into a tool with serious applications including research and journalism, and its lexical identity is transforming to keep pace.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE YEAR IN GIFING

January 2012: The New York Public Library launches the Stereogranimator, a tool enabling users to make GIFs of vintage stereographs in the library?s collection to create an illusion of the 3D experience of viewing through a stereoscope.

7 February 2012: First post on the GIFtastic tumblr whatshouldwecallme.

15 June 2012: 25th anniversary of the GIF.

July 2012: 20th anniversary of first GIF (and first photograph) ever posted to the World Wide Web.

July 2012: GIFs contribute to the viral ubiquity of Gangnam Style.

August 2012: The GIF vaults to prominence as a tool in covering Olympic events, marshaled into use both for serious analysis and humorous effect. Blogging for the New York Times, Jenna Wortham called GIFs ?the perfect medium for the Olympics.?

October 2012: Tumblr and the Guardian team up to live-GIF the presidential debates.

ORIGIN, PRONUNCIATION, AND SPELLING

GIF is an acronym from graphic interchange format, coined as a noun in 1987. The recent development of verbal GIF is an example of a linguistic process called conversion, or zero-formation. Verbs are often created from nouns in this way in English, ranging from venerable words such as to blanket and to fork to other recent technology neologisms like to Google and to Photoshop.

GIF may be pronounced with either a soft g (as in giant) or a hard g (as in graphic). The programmers who developed the format preferred a pronunciation with a soft g (in homage to the commercial tagline of the peanut butter brand Jiff, they supposedly quipped ?choosy developers choose GIF?). However, the pronunciation with a hard g is now very widespread and readily understood. Whichever pronunciation you use, it should of course be the same for both the noun and the verb.

GIF is usually spelled in all capitals in its uninflected form, but the addition of verbal endings presents problems. The examples of verbal GIF collected by Oxford?s lexicographers represent a dizzying variety of forms, including such infelicities as GIFfing and .giffed (with a period prefixed as in the file extension .gif). The most common form features GIF in capitals but the inflected endings in lowercase (GIFed, GIFing), so that is the spelling we have chosen to use here. However, there is also very strong evidence for an all-lowercase spelling with the f duplicated (giffed, giffing), perhaps by analogy with the verb riff. With such a new word, it isn?t surprising that a single spelling hasn?t yet become established; Oxford?s lexicography team will be watching to see which version ultimately wins out.

OTHER WORDS ON OUR 2012 SHORTLIST

GIF had strong competition this year from some other words that our team felt captured the zeitgeist of 2012:

Eurogeddon: the potential financial collapse of the European Union countries that have adopted the euro, envisaged as having catastrophic implications for the region?s economic stability [from euro + (Arma)geddon]

Higgs boson: a subatomic particle whose existence is predicted by the theory that unified the weak and electromagnetic interactions

MOOC: massive open online course; a university course offered free of charge via the Internet

nomophobia: anxiety caused by being without one?s mobile phone [from no + mo(bile) + phobia]

Super PAC: a type of independent political action committee which may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, and individuals but is not permitted to contribute to or coordinate directly with parties or candidates

superstorm: an unusually large and destructive storm

YOLO: you only live once; typically used as rationale or endorsement for impulsive or irresponsible behavior

ABOUT THE OXFORD DICTIONARIES USA WORD OF THE YEAR

The Word of the Year is chosen annually as a word that has attracted interest and that embodies in some way the ethos of the year. It need not have been coined within the past twelve months and it does not have to be a word that will endure for a significant length of time: it is very difficult to accurately predict which new words will have staying power. And while the Word of the Year has great resonance for 2012, that doesn?t mean that it will automatically go into any of our English Dictionaries.

http://blog.oup.com/...-year-2012-gif/

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Ok, I have never heard anyone use GIF as a verb in my entire life. Plus shouldn't this have been Word of the Year 1993?

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Ok, I have never heard anyone use GIF as a verb in my entire life. Plus shouldn't this have been Word of the Year 1993?

i thought the same thing. you hear people say "google it" all the time. who the hell ever says "gif it"?? :huh:

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In before the lingutrolls who think that the English they use now is the same English from decades ago. :p

Glassed Silver:mac

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In before the lingutrolls who think that the English they use now is the same English from decades ago. :p

Glassed Silver:mac

I'm a lingutroll who admits the language changes, but this is a pretty dumb entry. It won't be relevant 10 years from now.

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I'm a lingutroll who admits the language changes, but this is a pretty dumb entry. It won't be relevant 10 years from now.

Many old sayings we have have lost all their original meaning and still exist.

Same with many words that transitioned to more modern meanings.

That's how language evolves.

And whilst the file format might be replaced with something more modern, I think the idea of commenting on things or making memes out of something with animated graphics will stick around.

Glassed Silver:mac

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Yeah, never heard a single person use the word gif as a verb, but we can all just be thankful YOLO wasn't chosen.

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seriously? I've NEVER heard anyone say that... heck.... when was the last time someone talked about a GIF image?... I'd expect PNG it to be more common..... but then..... GIF is an acronym not a verb :rolleyes: people don't go around saying JPEG it or MPEG it or PNG it why would they say GIF it?

when are we going to start putting misspellings in the dictionary just so grammar Nazi's can't say YOU SPELLED THAT WRONG!!!!!!!

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you know... after the past few years of internet words, I've lost almost all respect for the Oxford dictionary

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Just think, they aren't but 10 years behind the rest of us.

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