Abso-2020-lutely Transcript

Carrie: Hi, and welcome to the Vocal Fries podcast. The podcast about linguistic discrimination.

Megan: I’m Megan Figueroa.

Carrie: And I’m Carrie Gillon

we both went, participated in the word of the year that the American Dialect Society puts on every year. Normally it’s paired with the LSA, the Linguistic Society of America, but, you know, COVID or 2020, we’ll get to that. Yeah, so it was online and it was in December and normally it’s in January and in person.

So it was an interesting experience being in this huge zoom with so many other people.

Megan: I think it went pretty smoothly for what it was,

Carrie: it did.

It was, it was one of the smoother zoom experiences that I’ve had

Megan: Yeah. Yeah. And I liked doing it from my couch.

Carrie: I did kind of miss the energy of the room, but,  the voting was so much faster and I proposed in the, in the chat that was like had too many things going on. So there’s no way anyone noticed, but I proposed, maybe we should find a way to use this system because. Wow. Did it speed things up. We still took longer than we were supposed to,

it was like 45 minutes extra,

Megan: Yeah. Well, they can, because I know that like in debates they do a thing where like, you can go onto an app on your phone and do and vote or say like how you feel about a candidate. So like, I know that there’s a technology. I feel like it should definitely bring it in next time there’s a non virtual

Carrie: An iClicker.

Megan: Yeah. Just anything, because it was lovely to see the results and to actually like statistical results because in person it was just like counting hands and we didn’t get to see like, you know, what everything else really got, except what our eye could perceive, but this was, this was nice to see,

Carrie: well, they would, they would write up all the numbers, but they wouldn’t give percentages, but you could do the percentages if you really cared to. And it’s

just, yeah, this

Megan: never do that.

Carrie: Well, yeah, I’m, I’m too lazy to do that, but I, but yeah, so it was nice to have the percentages like really quickly at the same time that we got the results.

So you could really see like, Oh, there’s a runaway candidate in this one

Megan: well, At least with the chat there, I think some people felt like they could speak up for the first time. I bet. But like

Carrie: Oh, I definitely spoke.

Megan: yeah, it means I would have never raised my hand in the real one.

I spoke in the chat, not in the,

you know, Yeah. Yeah. They had an option of like speaking for, or against a word and you could actually speak or, not signed  they had closed captioning, but they didn’t have a sign language interpreter, which is a problem.

So my biggest gripe about this always is that it’s very in the ivory tower. We get people that aren’t you know, not, well, maybe to be mean aren’t in the same reality as a lot of people are. So like, I was hearing people saying I’ve never heard that word before. And it was just like, ah, that’s because you’re, you know, you’re in a certain reality. I think

Carrie: Well, there were certainly words I’d never heard before

Megan: well, sure. Like  poggers I was like,

Oh, I’m too old out. I’m too

Carrie: and even the explanation I’m like, I don’t understand what it is still. I still don’t like, no one explained it to my satisfaction. So like, it’s fine to say, I’ve never heard that word before, but,  it’s the people who were saying, I’ve never heard that word.

Therefore it shouldn’t win. Like that’s not that’s fair.

Megan: Yes, yes, exactly. So that’s the whole argument  there needs to be different kinds of people.

Carrie: For sure. And next year we should probably,  let people know, like we didn’t advertise it and we should have, because we should have been like, Hey, join us at this.

So that’s our bad.

Megan: but it was a lot of hours. So, you know, it was

Carrie: It was almost,

Megan: of my Thursday night.

Carrie: Well, my, my main complaint is that every time people are like, well, that’s not new. That’s not a new word. It’s like, it’s never, or very rarely, actually a new word that was invented that year. COVID is one of the few exceptions. It’s almost always a word that’s been around for a long time.

It’s more newly relevant.

Megan: Well COVID was from 2019 anyway if a really what?

Carrie: It didn’t get, didn’t get named until 2020.

Yeah. They didn’t know what it was

 So it was named in 2020. So, uh, it’s one of the very few exceptions. Anyway. So I just, I kept getting annoyed that people kept saying “that’s not new” and I’m like, “it doesn’t have to be new.”

“That’s not new.” “It doesn’t have to be new.”

Megan: agreed. And it needs to be newly relevant. But another problem with being newly relevant is that a lot of times these words come from the Black community and white people act like they just discovered it. So you have to be very careful about that.

Carrie: That’s true. That’s fair. But that’s like less of an issue this year than it has

Megan: Oh, absolutely. Thankfully I think because they had a good panel of people,

or, you know, like a more diverse panel of people putting the words that were up for

Carrie: also, so many of the words were just related to COVID. So like there were some that came from the Black community,


Megan: I was like talking to someone in like a separate chat about it, and we were just like admiring Ben Zimmer because Ben Zimmer is a great guy

Carrie: he’s a great moderator too.

Megan: Yeah. Yeah.

And we got to hear the great Ben Zimmer say “pussy”

Carrie: But he mispronounced WAP so many times. Oh my God. Anyway, we’ll get to that. All right. Let’s start with the first category. The politcal word of the year. So here

are the nominations abolish slash defund. Verbs used parentheses at times, hyperbolically to call for drastic restructuring or reforming of law enforcement in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police.

Dissent collar, the collar worn by Ruth Bader Ginsburg when issuing dissenting opinions and worn by others in her honor after her death. By the way, I didn’t know that she did that. She wore a different collar for dissents.

Megan:  She has a closet of them. I think I saw like in a clip of, uh, like a doc of her, like she has these and people send them to her and like make them for her. them.

Carrie: Yeah.

they were beautiful. I just didn’t know that she had one that was special for dissents, freedumb. So instead of freedom, free D U M B. Reckless or thoughtless invocation of freedom, for instance, refusing to wear a mask Petromasculinity, a form of masculinity on display during pro Trump highway rallies, red mirage slash blue shift, appearance from early returns in the 2020 presidential election that voting was skewing towards Republicans before more democratic leaning votes were counted.

Megan: Abolish slash defund won with 74% of the vote. And the second was dissent collar at 11%. So it was  a striking win. And it was my choice too. But I’ll talk about it in a second because I have so much to say about it, but had you ever heard of petromasculinity?

I had not.

Carrie: no, but I love it. I think it’s a great term and I kind of wish I had heard of it because I heard it actually literally the very next day in a podcast.

Megan: Really? I wish I made it up. That’s how much I like it. It’s such a cool word.  Also to note that freedumb is,  ableist  there were a few ableist terms, that I just said, I’m not going to choose that. And someone pointed out, like, let’s get rid of a couple of – covidiot will come up.

and what was the other one?

Carrie: Moronavirus.

Megan: moronavirus. Yes. So these are ableist and luckily those got just like, kind of kicked out.

Or just not voted for.

for. Yeah. 

Dissent collar is fun, but like that, I mean, it doesn’t feel like a word of a year.

Carrie: Definitely not. And most people hadn’t even heard of it. Like a lot of people were saying, I’d never heard of this before. And I had heard the term, but I didn’t even realize that she literally had a separate collar, like. I don’t know where my brain was at, but I just I’d heard the word, but I didn’t realize that it was actually a collar that she only wore for dissents.

But yeah, like it didn’t really feel like a necessary inclusion

Megan: No,  was your choice abolish slash defund as well?

Yeah. Yeah. Red mirage slash blue shift. I mean, I heard it a couple of times when I was watching the returns for the election, but

Carrie: Yeah.  It was kind of misleading because not every state had this, right.

Like Arizona didn’t it went the opposite direction. Right. Started off really blue and started getting closer to red. I mean, it stayed blue, but, so  it’s not that interesting to me. It’s fine. It’s I don’t think it’s a bad like nomination, but I just

didn’t think it was gonna be the winner.


was pretty obvious to me, which one was going to be the winner.

Megan: Okay. So  explain it to me because I was having trouble with it, during the thing, and I was  DM-ing you, because  I didn’t like that there was a slash, but you explained it to me that made more sense.

Carrie: Well, okay. So abolish and defund sometimes mean the same thing, and sometimes don’t mean the same thing. So for some activists, defund means also abolish. It means defunding to the point of they have zero funding, but for some people it means, give the police less money and take some of that funding and give it to other things.

So it’s

Megan: they’ll use a

abolish with that.

Carrie: no.

Megan: Okay.

Carrie: Because this is different, meaning that’s what I’m saying. So there’s a up, there’s a meaning of defund where it basically means the same thing as abolish. And there’s a meaning of defund that means to fund less rather than completely defund. And I think that’s actually kind of  complicated.

And if that’s what you mean, you shouldn’t use the word, defund personally. That’s what I think. But there are people who do use it then the second way,

where  you mean fund less rather

than completely defund.

Megan: So the reason why I had trouble with it is because.  I know activists mean when or when someone says abolish. I understand that. And I agree. So I’m like, yes, we should defund to the point where we get to abolishing.

So it’s two separate words for me. So I was like, why would there be a slash this makes no sense. It’s conflating the two, but now you’re telling me, ah, but some people do use it in a way that conflates them.

Carrie: Yeah, it’s not just conflating. It’s like, defund to the point of abolishment.

Megan: So that’s what I mean. Oh, same goal. Okay. So then I do mean it that way, if it’s the same goal.

Carrie: Yeah, you do mean it that way. Yeah. But some people don’t, they mean it, they mean like fund it less so that, so that there’s still, there’s still a police force, but they do less. They’re not, they’re not the social workers that are not going out and interacting with people who are having mental health crises, you know, that kind of thing.

And numerically, it’s probably more people believe that the, that one.

Megan: Sure. Of course I’m not surprised or I wouldn’t be surprised.  I don’t know if it would’ve made more sense to me to have abolish and defund

Carrie: no, they’re too closely aligned. It would have been weird to have both of them. They would have competed, they would have drawn from the same pool of people. It made sense to me to put them together.

And then there was digital word of the year, hashtag black in the ivory, which is a hashtag used to amplify the voices of black scholars and their experiences of systemic racism with academia, doomscrolling, obsessively scanning social media and websites for bad news. Fancam a video clip made by fan of a musical act, especially a K-pop band, Korean pop, which can be used to derail an online conversation or as a form of subversive political protest.

Also a verb, sus, clipping of suspicious often used in the game Among Us to label a player suspected of being an imposter and TikTokked to be made the target of a campaign, mobilizing TikToK users

Megan: Yes, this is what the category where TikTokked to was, was one where people were saying I’ve never heard it used as a verb.

Carrie: I hadn’t either, but like it made total sense.  I’ve seen discussion of the phenomenon.

Megan: I have, but I also, I have a tendency to make everything into a verb. So I’ve done it in my head anyway, like so many times, probably not in the same way, or definitely not in the same way that, that it’s

defined here.

 So the winner of this was,  doomscrolling, 81% of the vote.

It was woof.  Yeah. Hashtag black in the ivory and fancam both got 6%.  So those were tied for second place, but doomscrolling,  definitely won. That was also my choice.

Carrie: Yeah, mine too. I mean, that seemed like pretty obvious.

Megan: I mean a digital word of the year it’s I think it’s so obvious.  Later we’ll talk about some people wanted this to be the word of the year and I’m like, nah, no, no, no.

This is like good for digital word of the year.

Carrie: Yeah. If you have some kind of interaction with social media, you’ve probably doomscrolled, but if you don’t then you wouldn’t. So it’s yeah, it’s definitely. Of a certain type of person that this would be true.

Megan: It’s true. Yeah. I know I’m thinking even of my babyboomer parents, my mom’s doomscrolled. I don’t think my dad, I would say my dad does.  I do every single day. This year, probably since I’ve been locked in the house.

Carrie: Yeah. I don’t even really think of it myself as doomscrolling. I’m just scrolling. Cause like, There’s like interesting stuff and there’s some bad stuff. Like, and every once in a while someone will be like, stop doomscrolling and I’m like, but I’m not, I don’t feel like I am. There. Has there have been times where I have, but like, I don’t know.

Mostly I’m just like,

just scrolling just

Megan: I like it. feel like my therapist would like that reframing. She’d be like, are you really not getting anything out of this? And be like, Oh wait, I’m connecting with my friends. Or,

Carrie: Yeah. And you’re, and you’re seeing like interesting stuff that’s happening in the world. Some of it’s bad, but some of it is like good. I don’t know. And, and if, if I feel like I am starting to like, get into a bad space, I switch to TikTok Oh yeah.


great. I love TikTok It’s great.

I, I wish I had the

skills to make TikToks

Megan: I

made one TikTok and it wasn’t

very good, but I just, like I said, like a month ago, I’m going to

get into TikToK and I

made one and forgot about it. So that’s not my thing, but I really should just watch them because they make

Carrie: yeah, you should have to watch them. They’re very soothing. I mean, they’re

Megan: are.

Carrie: you curate your feed

so I wanted to bring up sus because there was an interesting

conversation about sus

Megan: it was actually Geoffrey Nunberg’s daughter

Carrie: So first of all, sus has at least two other meanings. So like just being suspicious just across the board, which is how I’ve known it for the last few years. And then she brought up that it also can mean like,

Oh, that person is gay.

Megan: yeah, Like there’s something off, didn’t she say like, Oh, there’s something off about them, you know? Like, like in that way, what suspicious comes into it, why it would be used.  So like it’s an assumption that you don’t know for sure about, right? Like, you’re assuming something about someone,

I don’t know.

I’d never heard it this way.

Carrie: her say.

Megan: didn’t

she say it’s happening in

like high schools, like younger people

are using it that way.

Carrie:  It’s used in high school for sure.


That’s that’s all I can say about it. I can’t go any deeper than that, but I thought it was interesting. So she was arguing against it because of that use.

And I was like, But this use is not the, the use in Among Us. It doesn’t seem to have that flavor. So, I mean, it’s, it’s not, it shouldn’t be the digital word of the year, but

not for that reason.

Megan: And by the way, Geoffrey Nunberg,  her father, died this year. He was a linguist who was always on NPR.   Anytime they want to talk about words, they’d hit him up.

So that’s who that is. Yeah, so doomscrolling was a perfect choice. Beautiful.

Carrie: Then we have a whole new category, a special category for this year, zoom related word of the year.

Okay. Because obviously almost everyone is using zoom way too often. These days, obviously it’s dependent on a bunch of other factors, but most of us have to use it at least some points in our lives.  Oysgezoomt, which comes from Yiddish,  fatigued or bored by zoom. You’re muted, a weary refrain on zoom to remind someone to unmute when speaking, zoombombing, a disruptive intrusion on a zoom session by online trolls.

Zoom fatigue, exhaustion experience by being overexposed to zoom and zumping, which is zoom plus dumping, breaking up with someone via zoom, which I’ve never heard of that one


Megan: and even in this time of zoom, I would totally do it via text or ghosting. Hi,

Carrie: I mean, if you’re, if you’re, if you’re like in this special, situation we’re in, it doesn’t seem that bad to be dumped by zoom. But,

Megan: no, it seems necessary.  Yeah, so that word didn’t seem like that was gonna ever actually, this is funny, uh, spoiler alert, it got 0% of the votes zumping.

Carrie:  the person who nominated it didn’t

vote for it.

Megan: yeah. I know. Um, so the winter was you’re muted at 65% of the vote. And second place was actually my favorite zoom fatigue at 18%.  I really liked

zoom fatigue mostly because I felt it almost immediately after we moved to zoom. I don’t know why, like you’re muted was my second favorite. What was yours?

Carrie: My favorite was oysgezoomt because I just love a good Germanic


with like the ge in there. I just, I love it so


Megan: you didn’t think it was going to win. Yeah.  It feels very for sure.

Carrie: Yeah. It’s, it’s very meaty.

Megan: Meaty. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Carrie: I kind of felt like it should be either zoom fatigue or oysgezoomt, but, It makes sense that you’re muted won

Megan: Yeah.

Yeah. Yeah. or

Carrie: you’re on mute.

You’re on mute is actually more the case

Megan:    The zoom bombing thing. Um, I think it’s gotten a little bit

Carrie: Well, zoom changed the settings so that it was much harder for people to zoombomb, but yeah, it was, it was a really bad, horrible thing that was happening.

all kinds of, I suppose, specially racist stuff, but also porn,

Megan: yeah,

Carrie: would pop up in kids classes and yeah, it was bad. Luckily zoom took it seriously and changed the settings, but,

but who was, it was


Rickford who was like, arguing that didn’t happen.

Which is weird. I was like, dude,

Megan: is in a lot of chats that were password protected or protected or zoom


Carrie: It never happened to me


Megan: Yeah. I’m grateful for that. I don’t want to see any errant penises

Carrie: speaking

of errant penises, did you see, did you see star cyber, cyber punk? That game that came out that this week

So does, so this game is like, has all these bugs and it’s basically broken. And they had to like take it down off of the store and like refund everybody’s money.

Cause it was so

Megan: Yeah.

Carrie: part is that you could choose your genitals, penis or vagina so you could choose your penis size and shape and whatever.

And then there was this weird bug where I would just like sit outside of your pants. So there’s like all these pictures of people with

Megan: no.

Carrie: like just hanging out so funny. It’s so funny.

Megan: it’s like penis bombing on the video

Carrie: game.

Like unintentional penis bombing.

Megan: Yeah.  Oh, no.  It’s so funny because I’d heard about it. Cause Nick was really, my partner was really excited about it because like Keanu Reeves is a character, like you’re putting a lot into this. So he plays someone called Johnny silver hand or something and it looks a lot like him, it’s like a really hot character.

So I was just like really surprised to see that they didn’t get their shit together before releasing it or whatever.

Carrie: anyway, next category. We, we had another special category this year. Coronavirus related word of the year. Contact tracing, the process of identifying who may have come into contact with a person carrying an infectious disease, like coronavirus.

Coronials, the Coronavirus generation for the predicted baby boom in the wake of the pandemic. COVID-19 or just COVID, disease caused by infection from the novel coronavirus, flattening the curve, the effort to slow the spread of coronavirus by taking community isolation measures, which is basically what I’m doing right now.

and then moronavirus, disparaging term for foolish behavior or ideas related to the coronavirus pandemic. they added another one. That’s not on this list. Social distancing.

Megan: Oh, that was added that’s right. Someone spoke up for it,

Carrie: Yeah. It’s basically you should be actually called physical distancing, but we don’t use that term. We just call it social distancing, where you stay apart from other people so that you don’t spread the coronavirus and.

That’s the one that actually won. So the

Megan: Yes. With

58% of the votes.

And then COVID, got 33%. Moronavirus. No one voted for it. And neither, no one voted for contact tracing,

because it did so poorly in here.

Carrie: Yeah, well, that was, I think the argument was nobody’s actually doing it in the U S which is not entirely true. There is some contract tracing going on, but it wasn’t enough. And now it’s impossible to do, like, once it’s this widespread, you can’t do contact tracing. It’s just impossible.

So I, even though I don’t really think that that’s a good excuse not to vote for it.  It just didn’t feel like the right choice. Like tracing is an important part of,  fighting COVID, but we just didn’t talk about it as much

as social distancing.

Megan: my favorite was COVID 19 COVID for word of the year.

but then when someone introduced social distancing, I was like, Okay. I’m going to go for social distancing.

Carrie: I still voted for COVID

Megan: you did.


Carrie: distancing totally makes sense. Yeah. Yeah. I did.

Megan: yeah. And we’ll get to this later, but the fact that COVID, didn’t even win the pandemic-related word of the year and then won word of the year, so annoying to me,

I’m still so salty about it winning word of the year and we’ll get to it more later.

Carrie: We will get to it. And it’s interesting because other other words were like kicked out because they didn’t win their category, but COVID, wasn’t kicked out. I thought that was interesting.

Megan: No, it’s, that’s called a conspiracy. That’s it? That’s not interesting. That’s a conspiracy.

Carrie: Okay. I mean, to be fair, I did come into this thinking COVID probably should win. That was my like natural assumption coming in, but we’ll get, we’ll get to that when we get to the all right. All right. So this slang slash informal word of the year, covidiot, a person who foolishly ignores COVID 19 protocols, girls, gays, and theys, and inclusive form of  address combining female-identifying, LGBTQ and nonbinary identities.

Poggers,  a term used to denote excitement, derived from a Twitch emote, showing someone with a surprise expression, the Rona or Rona, or miss Rona, or aunt Rona, a playful term for coronavirus, WAP an acronym

for wet ass pussy from the song of that title by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion.

Megan: And I screwed up and did not get the poll results. I only got the, the runoff poll results, but it was a runoff between the Rona and WAP.

And I really wanted to WAP to win.

Carrie: me too. I mean, it

should have won I mean, I

get why Rona won or

the Rona. I get it.

Megan: Even though I’ve never said it. Not that it matters, but I haven’t.

Carrie: I’ve never said it either. It’s but it’s fine. Like, it’s definitely used a lot in at least two communities, the Australians and the Black community in the United States. So it’s pretty widespread.

So that’s not an argument against it. I just liked WAP a lot. I felt like it’s nice and subversive. It would

make Ben Zimmer blush if he had to talk about it in the media

Megan: know,



had never heard of, and I didn’t really want to admit to that because I was like, I’m getting old.

Carrie: I tried to watch a Twitch stream once, cause it was,  the leader of the NDP party in Canada, and AOC were like gonna play Among Us together. So it’s like, okay. I like both of these people I’m going to try. And that was Jagmeet Singh. Sorry, that’s his name.

I just can’t I can’t watch Twitch.

Megan: no,

Carrie: but it’s kind of fun.

Megan: Nicole Holliday was the one who nominated that. it a

lot. Some people don’t like it.  I heard from the dissenting opinions.

Carrie: Yeah. It doesn’t, it doesn’t have to be for everybody. It’s fine.   Euphemism of the year, essential, as in workers, labor businesses used for people often underpaid who are actually treated as expendable because they are required to work and thus risk infection from coronavirus.

Everything is cake, an expression of extreme distrust based on memes in which objects turn out to be hyper-realistic cakes, freedom seeds, nickname for ammunition used by the NRA Humaning, marketing term for a consumer oriented approach. Toobin, to

expose oneself

on Zoom in the manner of Jeffrey Toobin

Megan: my favorite was essential because all the other ones I had never heard, but also essential is very good. And it is a fucking euphemism if I’ve ever heard one.  one added : officer-involved shooting was added from the floor.

Carrie: Yeah, that’s the one I ended up voting for because yeah, I mean, yes, essential as it is euphemistic, at least in most instances, but not always.

officer involved shooting is always

euphemistic, so that was just the one I chose.

Megan: essential ended up winning at 65% of the vote officer involved shooting at 30%.

Carrie: Yeah. I mean, that seems fair. Yeah. I, part of me wanted to vote for Toobin cause it’s just so horrible. I was like, I don’t want to like elevate this man’s name even though it’s like, not really elevating it,

Megan: Right.

Carrie: yeah.

All right. And then emoji of the year, which we don’t always have, but most years do, two fingers touching, used to indicate shyness hesitation, or pleading a face with pleading eyes, used for timid, begging, or beseeching, or to react to cute things.

Eye Mouth eye, it is what it is, also used to express amazement, shock, disgust, or confusion. The writing hand, used for bullet pointed lists of how to fix things. Face with medical mask, indicating mask wearing during the pandemic.  The Facebook  that didn’t exist before this year and it’s not, it’s not a Unicode one, but it’s still an emoji.

 Megan: mask won with 36% of the vote

Carrie: yeah, I voted for the care react. Even though mask was going to be my vote, just because I actually ended up using it and I didn’t expect that I would, like, there was

like something,

it connected with a lot of people,

Megan: It was going to run off. And then it ended up

being 60% of vote went to face with medical

masks.   yeah, That’s the one I chose just because I, I mean, even with like my animal crossing game, I have my character wearing a mask. I’m just like, you know, it just really defines  yeah, it feels perfect for this year.

Carrie: I agree. I, I realized after that, I’m surprised that nobody voted for the coronavirus. Or the virus? emoji,

Megan: yeah. Huh?

Carrie: often in conjunction with the mask

one. So I’m, I can’t believe it wasn’t a nominated. I might’ve voted for that one. If it had been a choice, just because I like how green it is.

Yeah, Okay. Most creative. So combining forms. So Kira

Megan: as it

Carrie: because you know, it speaks to us as linguists, right?     Corona. As in Coronasomnia, coronababies, coronacut.

Coronacation, coronabros. I’d never heard of before. Fatigue is in COVID fatigue, lockdown fatigue, pandemic fatigue, zoom fatigue. Mask is in maskne or acne caused by mask wearing, maskhole, maskbreak. Quaran- As in quarantini, quaranteam, quaranbeard, quarantigue.

Megan: Yes. I love fatigue. I think that came up with zoom too. I really wanted zoom fatigue to win. I just love fatigue as a creative thing.  fatigue. 

curbside pickup fatigue. What was your favorite?

Carrie: I voted for Corona

Megan: You did vote for Corona So corona and quaran- went to a runoff, and quaran-.

won with 69% of the vote. Corona got 31%. I

ended up voting for quaran- 

in the runoff cause I

liked quarantini

Carrie: I think it has the advantage of being only part of the word, whereas corona is the whole word. So it doesn’t feel as creative. I think that’s why part of the reason why quaran- won,

Megan: yeah, I mean, quarantigue, that’s amazing. That’s a cool word that you can make

with them.

 Carrie:  quarantigue is perfect. I will agree with that .

most useful.

Megan: actually very mad at this category, but let’s, let’s.

Carrie: Okay. All right. So,  before times, the time before the beginning of the pandemic Blursday, a humorous indication of difficulty in determining what day of the week it is bubble slash pod, terms for the group, with which one remains in quarantine, for personal protective equipment and super spreader, a patient or responsible for spreading infection to many people.

Megan: So I really liked PPE and people were saying, this is not new.

Carrie: Again, not

that is not an argument

Megan: I know. I’m like, I did not. And I’m going to use it forever. Yeah. I will never stop using PPE. I’m like, now I’ve changed. I know what it is. I’m gonna say it for forever. It’s relevant to me. I don’t know.

I really liked PPE and the other ones just didn’t make sense to me as useful at all,

because I think bubble and pod are going to go away,

 Carrie: yeah, maybe they might go away super, superspreader. Even though that’s not, what I voted for is, is useful because, what we’ve learned from this, this virus, it’s kind of different from other viruses in that most people don’t pass it on 80% of people do not transmit this disease. So it’s these like super spreading events that are driving this


that’s important it’s not new to like epidemiologists, but it’s new to most of the rest of us.

Right. So I, I think that’s a useful word. I, it’s not what I voted for though.

Megan: Did you vote for Blursday?

Carrie: God, no, I like Blursday as a word. It’s kind of funny, but,  no

I voted for before


Megan: and actually they changed it to before slash after times, for the votes.

Carrie: no. Why after times? No one says after times let’s no.

 So the only reason why I almost didn’t vote for before times is because I was using it already.

as like bef, before Trump. I was like in the before times.  And then I had to switch my usage to the, the before, before times.

Megan: Oh, okay.

Carrie: Yeah. So I liked it before times is now pre pandemic before, before times is pre-Trump.

So I was like, well, I am still, I did change my usage of this word, so I will vote for it. And I like it.

Megan: Yeah, I didn’t think it was useful. Cause I was like, this is confusing because it doesn’t mean that for me.

Carrie: Yeah, but for most people it does mean this. So

Megan: so before times won with 61% of the vote,  after a runoff with Blursday,

Carrie:   All right. Most likely to succeed. Anti-racism, the practice of actively working  to prevent or combat racism, BIPOC, acronym for Black, Indigenous and people of color. Contactless, requiring no physical contact to avoid transmitting disease. Curbside, adjacent to a curb, or as for pickup of goods, without entering a store or restaurant. Giga fire, a wildfire that burns at least a million acres of land and Zoomer, a but now highlighting their use of zoom for remote learning and other activities.

Megan: So what was yours here? 

Carrie: I think I ended up going with zoomers

Megan: Really?

Carrie: it’s taken on a new meaning this year, which I found interesting.

Megan: Yeah.

Carrie: but then I switched to contactless. I lost in both instances to anti-racism.

Megan: Yeah. So my favorite, like going into this, I was like, I need contactless or curbside to win either one of those. And then I ended up,  I think I ended up voting for curbside, but what happened is that anti-racism got 44% and then contactless got 17%. So I went to a runoff and in the runoff, anti-racism got 71 and then contactless got 29.

But I really think that contact list is going to that, so with anti-racism I think the word will succeed, but I think it will be co-opted so badly that I don’t know if it’s going to look like what we know of it today or in this year.

Carrie: I agree, but that maybe that’s not a reason that it won’t succeed though. You know what I mean? Like,

Megan: Yeah, that’s true.  But with contactless, I’m like,  this is going to

survive because there was so many neurodivergent people that are loving this new  , I think that a lot of us have been exposed to something that we needed.

Carrie: no, I think it’s, it’s definitely going

to stick around for sure.

Megan: Yeah.

some people in the chat where just like, that’s going away, like I’m like curbside and contactless are not going away.

This is our new


Carrie: No curbside is great. Like,

Megan: Yeah.

Carrie: I used it a few times and, it’s really


 I still think that actually all of these words are going to succeed.

Megan: Yeah.

Carrie: giga fire. We’re only going to hear it more because there’s just going to be more worse fires.

Zoomer is the word of a generation. So it’s going to be around, and BIPOC is around. and we had an interesting discussion about how this meaning the word seems to have changed, meaning. Yeah, because for me it means. People of color who are Black and Indigenous, not other people of color,

 But now it seems to mean Black, Indigenous and people of color, which is weird, like, what does that even mean?

 That’s just people of color. That’s just POC, right? They’re like,

Megan: Yeah.

Carrie: do we have another name for this? Which means the same thing.

Megan: I don’t know. I just assumed that it was because we were pointing out that black and indigenous people have from other people of color. And we just wanted to note that when we called in everyone of color.

Carrie: I don’t think you can call in everyone and have that. I don’t know.

Megan: All right. No, I’m not saying I, I mean, I use it sometimes just because it seems to be like, but now I’m like, well, I don’t know. Am I using it incorrectly? So,

Carrie: Well, I only mean if I use it. I mean, people of color who are black or indigenous or both, but not any other people of color. If I, if I’m going to talk about people of color, generally, I’m just going to use people of color POC anyways. All right. Word of the year, word of the year. So this is the list that we had going into it.

I think the list changed. So I’m just gonna read what, what went into it.  Anti-racism again, the practice of actively working to prevent or combat racism. Before times, the time before the beginning of the pandemic. BIPOC, acronym for Black, Indigenous and people of color. Blursday, a humorous indication of difficulty in determining what day of the week


is. Covidiot, a person

who foolishly ignores COVID-19 protocols. Doomscrolling, obsessively scanning social media and websites for bad news. Pandemic, epidemic over a wide area, affecting a large proportion of the population social distancing, keeping away from others as much as possible to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 2020, used to sum up chaotic and despondent feelings inspired by the year’s events. and the zoom combining form. as in zoombombing, zoommom, zoomparty, zoomschool.

Megan: Unprecedented was added. So what happened was of course there was a runoff because, well, maybe not, of course, but so 2020  got 29% of the vote and then COVID got 25% of the vote. So sweet baby, 2020 won in the first one, but then in the runoff we get, COVID getting 54% of the vote.

And I just, I am so.

Just like salty that the most boring, dull word that could possibly have been chosen for word of the year was chosen.

Carrie: I mean, I don’t think it’s boring. I think it, in some ways it makes sense, right? Like what was the number one news item? COVID COVID COVID COVID it’s this new disease. Everyone’s talking about it. It affects everybody. People are dying from it. People are getting really sick from it. I have a friend who has long COVID.

Yeah, it makes sense. It’s not boring. Exactly. It makes sense. However, 2020 is more interesting as a, as a choice. So normally I would argue against choosing,  a year. As the word of the year. Cause like every year kind of sucks, right? Like we all think that, Oh, 2016, wow. This year sucks 2017 is going to be better.

I was like, no, it’s not 2017. Oh my God. That’s like 2018 is going to be better. Blah, blah, blah. So I get it. But we are using 2020 way more and way more interesting ways.

So someone brought up that we it as an infix So abso2020lutely

So cool. Yeah. I had never heard that. Um, but I love it. And I’m gonna use it. Um, yeah, no, I have,

basis of that alone.

uh, okay. And then, um, I mean, I use it like, um, that, so 20, 20, or like, of course this is happening as 2020. Yeah. 2020.

you’re like 2020, like it’s, it’s so much more versatile then. Most years are.

Megan: yeah. And to actually choose a year for the year, because it actually deserves it. I mean, I think that’s really cool. It would have been a really cool thing to, to say it was the word of the year. Yeah.

Carrie: Oh, that’s going to be a really terrible headline. And I was like, no, that’s a perfect headline. What are you talking about?

Megan: Yeah. And in like, I felt like every argument for Corona or yeah. Um,

Carrie: COVID.

yeah. Right. I think 2020 does a better job of encapsulating everything that happened this year. So like people wanted to propose unprecedented because, uh, you know, the, so many things went wrong. Yes. All of these things have happened in the past, but together all in one package,

Megan: No. Yeah. And Corona choosing COVID erases that. And I think it erases a really big, uh, um, it’s to me kind of racist, honestly, uh, like I, when I think about 20, 20, I am not going to forget how I, my body felt when George Floyd was murdered by police. And what happened after that? Like all, and then by seeing those pictures of, um, the wildfires in California and like seeing, I mean, like there’s this. Epic picture that AP took of like a nursing home that said wear masks, but it’s like being burned down and I’m like, that’s why I’m saying, yeah, I’m saying that the way that we talk about coronavirus can be encapsulated by 2020, because there was so much more on top of that happening. And, you know, just the way that our brains work. Individually, we felt like it was personally hard for everyone. And we thought the bad things happening to us was just so 2020, like my beloved dog Rilo, like almost died of pancreatitis and it just felt so 2020,

Carrie: Yeah. 2020 strikes again.

Megan: Yeah, My tia died on my birthday. It was super 2020. It would have been such a good choice,

Carrie: It would have been a better choice just because it encapsulated more of what was going on. The police rioting this year, like everything.

So I’m, I’m a little mad about COVID, but I do think it’s like the second best choice given all the rest of it.

Megan: yeah,

Carrie: it should have been 2020.

Megan: Yeah, we definitely, it was definitely robbed.

Carrie: I hope you had it as an

okay. 2020 as was

feasible, given the situation.



Megan: possible.

we know that That’s really hard.

Carrie: know many,

Megan: Yeah.



Carrie: stay

safe, stay masked get your

Megan: Yes.

Oh, I can’t wait to get a fucking vaccine. Poke my arm with it. Do it. Let’s do this.

Carrie: Yes. Yes, I will. All right. don’t be an asshole.

Carrie: We would like to thank our two newest patrons, J. Rose and Rachel Rowan Olive. Thank you so much for your support. And if you would like to support us on patreon.com/vocalfriespod, we would love it. You can get a sticker, bonus episodes and our undying thanks.

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