Every year the Oxford English Dictionary chooses to bless a few new words by adding them to its hallowed pages, and every year people react, often strongly, because most of us make a distinction between “proper” language and the latest slang words we use when speaking. In the past words like tweet, hashtag, app and Googlegänger were added to the official listing of English words, and this year the word “selfie” joins them. There’s a similar listing of influential words popularized this year in Japan, too. This year’s words include アベノミックス Abenomics, the economic policies of Prime Minister Abe, also known as The Man Who Makes Our Anime Cheaper; パズドラ pazu-dora, the popular Puzzles and Dragons game that my son can’t stop playing for five minutes; and 今でしょ！ ima desho! (“the time to do that is right now!”), the catchphrase of famous prep school teacher Osamu Hayashi which became so popular Toyota hired him to do a car commercial (“When are you going to buy a new Toyota? The time to do it is right now!”). Another word I’ve been hearing a lot is バカッター bakattaa, rendered in English spelling as “bakatter,” which means “to do something really stupid on Twitter.” Like the planking boom of a few years ago, it’s become quite a thing, with people posting pictures of themselves sleeping in convenience store freezers, eating ramen in restaurants while naked or standing on top of police cars just for the lulz.
Some new words for 2013, from “selfie” to bakatter.