?`s and ANNEswers

Ten minutes to write. Less time to read.


I want to start lobbying for the Word of the Year for 2013. And I hope Ben Zimmer, whom I wrote about a few days ago, is paying attention. Even if he isn’t I think my word has merit. It’s Google-de-gook.

At this point nobody has heard of it although many people have experienced it, some with their smart phones and others who are subjected to people with their smart phones in inappropriate situations.

Gobbledygook is defined as unintelligible information, gibberish, something that is not understandable. It is the father to my word. Since I’m the mother, I choose to define Google-de-gook not as something unintelligible but something that someone with a smart phone decides must be researched in the moment, must be injected into an otherwise gentle conversation among humans, must be the final word.

I’ve been in more than one conversation where someone says, “I wonder what the annual mean temperature on the top of Everest is.” In the past, this might lead to others’ opinions and perhaps some really interesting dialogue. But when another in the group has a smart phone and insists on an immediate empirical answer, all conversation changes. The answer is not unintelligible, but it is a distraction in the context of a free-flow conversation.

And it is becoming more and more prevalent in our society. There is even a debate going on as to whether instant information is productive or if it’s leading to the dumbing down of our people. If the latter point of view wins, then Google-de-gook will indeed become synonymous with gibberish.

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