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2006 in a word

Posted by Jan Freeman, keep until April  November 13, 2006 11:14 PM

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The Word of the Year is carbon neutral, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, which announced its 2006 pick today.

Being carbon neutral involves calculating your total climate-damaging carbon emissions (your carbon footprint), reducing them where possible, and then balancing your remaining emissions, often by purchasing a carbon offset -- paying to plant new trees or investing in "green" technologies.

Not that NOAD gets the last word -- or the first word, or the only word. The Word of the Year parade started in early October, when the Oxford English Dictionary chose bovvered, from a catchphrase on Catherine Tate's BBC comedy show. ("Am I bovvered?" means "Am I bothered? Do I look like I care?" See it in action here.)

Next, on Nov. 1, Webster's New World chose Crackberry -- a play on the addictive properties of the BlackBerry PDA -- as its 2006 WOTY. (But the WNW word squad, like NOAD's, was thinking globally; one of its runners-up was carbon footprint. Will it be a green year in the WOTY world?)

These are just for starters; dozens of WOTYs will be proposed in coming weeks, and the season won't end till the American Dialect Society votes on its list in January. We'll be back for more.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


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