Since then it has become an increasingly competitive enterprise, as Merriam-Webster, the New Oxford American Dictionary, Webster’s New World and others have begun the practice.
We, of course, are honored by the competition.
There are two distinctions with the Global Language Monitor’s approach:
1. The words are ranked by a proprietary algorithm, the Predictive Quantities Indicator(tm) or PQI, and not by opinion or majority vote of editors, readers, or the public.
2. The words are chosen from the entire English-speaking community, what we call Global English, that now has approximately 1.35 Billion speakers (up from 250 million in 1960.) The words on GLM’s 2007 list include those from China, India, and Singapore.
The theory behind the PQI was to eliminate any statistical or personal bias in the choice, So while we are tracking words such as w00t (and actually have a section on L33t-speak in an upcoming book), we found it just did not to have the numerical weight as the words that rose to the top of GLM’s 2007 list. (While intresting, w00t was surpassed by more than a 500:1 ratio.)
Hybrid was chosen as a non-biased, non-politicized, representation of all things green. You don’t need the PQI to tell you that words and phrases such as climate change, global warming, planetary peril, biodiesel, green in this context, and hybrid all come up tens of millions of times in a simple Google search. (The PQI tracks momentum, direction, year-over-year changes, as well as several other indicators, and produces a statistically normalized result.)
My personal preference for WOTY was the word surge (the Iraq War and political strategy), which actually led our analysis throughout the year until the hybrid-related words surged past surge in our final analyses.