Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Word of the Year
Or...folks at Merriam-Webster should be ashamed of contributing to spelling challenges for our children

The Associated Press reports that researchers at Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, Springfield, Mass., have announced the 2007 Word of the Year. The word they selected is "w00t." That's w zero zero t. It's a gaming word that you're supposed to type in when exclaiming victory. It's a freak-fest of letters and numbers that doesn't really amount to a word, but the president of Merriam-Webster, John Morse, thinks it's just great.

"It shows a really interesting thing that's going on in language," he says. (Great syntax there, John.)

I'll tell you, John, what this signifies. Bastardization. Morse went on in the AP report to say, "[W00t is] a term that's arrived only because we're now communicating electronically with each other."

As an author and editor, it troubles me to see something like this called a word, added to a dictionary and then dignified with some kind of recognition such as "word of the year." Yes, that title is some arbitrary marketing ploy Merriam-Webster employees came up with, but it still gives weight to a spelling fiasco that confuses children and youth who already take shortcuts in writing with the texting habit our society has adopted. I don't remember when a college graduate passed a proofreading/editing test I gave during an interview for an editorial position at the companies where I've worked. That situation is only worsening with the advent of words such as w00t, l33t (short for "elite," according to AP) and "ur 4 me!" when texting your sweetie.

The good news is a college professor and executive secretary of the American Dialect Society, Allan Metcalf, was also quoted in the AP report, and he had words of comfort for me concerning the gaming words' influx. "It's amusing, but it's limited to a small community and unlikely to spread and unlikely to last."

As for this editor and fantasy author, I'm going to keep using the English language as properly as I can, given my lack of sleep negatively affects my grammar and spelling skills more often than not.

(Sandy Lender is the author of Choices Meant for Gods, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and has been editing in the magazine publishing industry for more than 15 years. She is currently the editor of AsphaltPro Magazine.)

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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Blogger Laura M. Crawford said...

I totally agree with you, Sandy! When I applied to go to MSB (Minnesota School of Business) to pursue my paralegal degree, part of the application process was to write a 500 word essay on a topic of their choosing. We had to write it, in longhand, right there when we were testing and applying for acceptance to the school. I was very disturbed to find out, the essay has been eliminated from the application process. Why? I have no idea, but it might be because they were turning away a lot of potential students because they COULD NOT WRITE EFFECTIVELY!

I know, the schools don't have enough money, the classes are larger and larger, there is a lack of teachers, blah, blah, blah! But I have seen first hand the consequences of working with someone in the legal field who doesn't know how to spell, can't use grammar properly, and punctuation...don't get me started! What are the consequences? In the legal field, it could mean the difference between winning a lawsuit or having it thrown out of court. Judges can be merciless, and if your paperwork is not neat, legible and in the proper format, they won't let it slide.

I guess I'm old fashioned. I feel that being able to communicate effectively is important. Texting is fast, and easy for some, but in the time it takes someone to text a message, you could have called them and had a real conversation. I would rather see the paper notes we used to write each other in class passed around. At least we were writing!

Laura :)

12:25 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I can't be as eloquent as Laura at the moment, but I have to whole-heartedly agree with you on "w00t" as a word in general and as word of the year specifically.

I admit it. I'm guilty of using it. But I don't use it often and I've never considered it a true word worthy of being in a dictionary of any sort.


8:33 PM  
Blogger Connie Northrop said...

Was I the only person who noticed the use of 'texting'? This word fits in the 'woot' category as well. If you are going to complain about one you probably should not be using the other.

6:40 PM  

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