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‘Subprime’ Voted 2007 Word of the Year

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19homespunweb.jpgRISMEDIA, Jan. 9, 2008-While many may think that the word “subprime” is a commonly used word exclusively in the real estate industry and for those looking to buy, the Dialect Society recently proved otherwise, voting “subprime” as the Word of the Year.

The Society defines “subprime” as a risky or less than ideal loan, mortgage, or investment, and as this word makes its debut as Word of the Year, “subprime was also winner of a brand-new 2007 category for real estate words, a category which reflects the preoccupation of the press and public for the past year with a deepening mortgage crisis.

“When you have investment companies losing billions of dollars over something like bundled subprime loans, then you have to consider whether it’s important,” Professor Wayne Glowka, Dean of Arts and Humanities of Reinhardt College, chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society said. “You probably also want to think about paying off that third mortgage.”

According to the Dialect Society, Word of the Year is interpreted in its broader sense as “vocabulary item”-not just words but phrases. The words or phrases do not have to be brand-new, but they have to be newly prominent or notable in the past year, in the manner of Time magazine’s Person of the Year.

The Society claims that the vote is the longest-running such vote anywhere, the only one not tied to commercial interests, and the word-of-the-year event up to which all others lead. It is fully informed by the members’ expertise in the study of words, but it is far from a solemn occasion. Members in the 118-year-old organization include linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, authors, editors, professors, university students, and independent scholars. In conducting the vote, they act in fun and do not pretend to be officially inducting American words into the English language. Instead they are highlighting that language change is normal, ongoing, and possibly entertaining.

The Dialect Society also released its runners up for Word of the Year. Among those include “green,” “surge,” “Facebook,” “Waterboarding,” and “Googlegänger.”

When it comes to top words in the Real Estate/Mortgage/Loans category, other key words found include:

- Liar’s loan/liar loan: Money borrowed from a financial institution under false pretenses, especially in the form of a “stated income” or “no-doc” loan which can permit a borrower to exaggerate income.
- NINJA No Income, No Job or Assets: A poorly documented loan made to a high-risk borrower.
- Scratch and dent loan: A loan or mortgage that has become a risky debt investment, especially one secured with minimal documentation or made by a borrower who has missed payments.

For more information, visit www.americandialect.org.

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