Casting an eye back on 2013 through the lens of language can feel like looking at a series of bubbles: words that momentarily caught our fancy, often tied to passing trends or breaking-news stories. But those bubbles in the language almost always go “pop!” before too long, as new ones rise to take their place.
Blame the information overload brought about by new and old media ceaselessly competing for mindspace. Or blame a collective attention span that can rival that of a goldfish. It often seems that 21st-century trends in English are increasingly transient, with neologizers whipping up a linguistic churn that leaves little of permanence behind.
Rather than bemoaning the frothy and fleeting nature of new words and phrases, however, we can embrace it. The effervescence of language, the constant churning of those bubbles, serves as evidence of something more enduring: the always-present creativity of our word-making faculties, innovating in ways both serious and playful to find novel ways of labeling social phenomena and experiences.