September 20, 2014

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You can’t order ‘hashtag’ at diner
Written by Bob Hyle   
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 7:59 PM

With the world’s ever-increasing fascination with technology - and social media in particular - it came as no surprise when the American Dialect Society announced its 2012 Word of the Year earlier this month and the winner was another technology-related word: hashtag.

Hashtag, for the uninformed (and that means you, Microsoft Word, which failed to recognize it in my spell check) is usually recognized as a symbol (#) and is used by those that participate in Twitter to mark specific topics for discussion.

It’s a solid selection considering some of the other finalists, but my old-school crankiness questions the varied uses of the symbol #.

The millions of people using Twitter would instantly describe that symbol as a hashtag, but there are millions of others who have used it on telephones as the “pound” symbol.

Old geezers, such as yours truly, would also recognize the symbol as the number sign, as in, “Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” is #1 with a bullet on the Top 40 charts.”

It’s nice that # is getting so much universal love today, but why no multi-faceted love for the ampersand (&) or the good old-fashioned asterisk (*).

There were six finalists for Word of the Year and it is interesting that hashtag is the only “single” word in the group.

The other five are either multiple words or an acronym. The other finalists were:
YOLO, the acronym for You Only Live Once (not to be confused with the James Bond movie, “You Only Live Twice”)

Fiscal Cliff, which made a late surge in December to describe yet another government financial debacle
Gangnam Style, the music and dance style named after the South Korean Gangnam district and popularized by the singer PSY (think “Macarena” if you’ve never heard Gangnam Style before)
Marriage Equality, the legal recognition of same-sex marriage 47 Percent, the percentage of the U.S. population that presidential candidate Mitt Romney said doesn’t pay federal income taxes (and correctly predicted wouldn’t vote for him)

Of the six finalists, I can’t say that I’ve ever used YOLO, my dance moves pre-date Gangnam Style by several decades, which means I won’t be on the dance floor with PSY when he quickly fades into oblivion—and, alas, I’m not one of the 47 percent that doesn’t pay income taxes.

I suppose any government entity could fall off the financial cliff sometime in the future, but I have to admit some of these economic terms are quite good.

A particular favorite from the past is the upside-down mortgage, where the owner owes more money than the house is actually worth.

These finance guys apparently do more than look at numbers all day; congratulations on your wordmanship.

Marriage equality was not the word of the year, but was selected by the ADS as the most likely to succeed among all the words submitted and that’s a point I can’t argue.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to review same-sex marriages this year and isn’t it interesting that the spin has already begun.

“Same-ex marriage” is a rather neutral phrase, but “marriage equality” sounds like something we should all strive for, so to speak.

Needless to say, we can do a lot of interesting things with all of these wonderful words from last year, even hashtag them.

Bob Hyle covers sports and writes a weekly column for The Harrison Press. He lives in Bright.