Joe Clark: Accessibility ¶ Design ¶ Writing

Canadian Word of the Year 2011:
orange and Ornge

As of April 2012, I’m declaring the Canadian Word of the Year 2011 to be the same word rendered two or three ways.

orange (crush; team)
Metonym referring to the NDP’s rise to official-opposition status in Parliament
Ornge or ORNGE (perverse corporate orthography)
Air-ambulance contractor, funded mostly by the Ontario government, that became embroiled in financial and other scandals

Why did this take four months?

The Americans release their word-of-the-year candidate list late that year and vote on it early in the next. The Brits do such an egregious job of the task they aren’t even worth talking about. But both countries have, as they say, well-oiled publicity machines that get the word out. Both countries’ efforts are backed by organizations, hence benefit from their imprimatur. They get all sorts of press and people take them seriously.

In Canada, it’s just me, one writer with a linguistics degree, maintaining an amateur list with zero public profile.

As such, Canadian Word of the Year represents a failed project that I can’t afford to put any more time into. I realized this late in 2011 when the Americans started up their propaganda machine. Nobody likes admitting defeat, me least of all. But, five months later, that’s what I’m doing.

I won’t be running a Canadian Word of the Year 2012 series.

Candidate list for 2011

See the related Facebook group.

Black Friday
Marketing jargon, suspect from a nationalist perspective but really used here, referring to retailers’ biggest days of the year, beginning “the Friday after Thanksgiving,” which was actually a month previous here (2011.11.29)
omnibus; omnibus crime bill
Proposed legislation (Bill C‑10), invariably described as “sweeping,” to revamp the Criminal Code, imposing mandatory sentences and triggering the construction of more jails (2011.11.29)
Harper government; harperize (v.)
The former is terminology the Privy Council ordered federal bureaucrats to use, a process the bureaucrats described with the latter. (Harper government denies the existence of such orders) (2011.11.29)
state broadcaster
Factually incorrect description, used exclusively by Quebecor journalists and Conservative MPs, of the CBC (2011.11.29)
mushy middle
Fractious bloc of a dozen or so votes on Toronto City Council that cannot be relied upon to side with or against Rob Ford (2011.09.29)
Hockey goon. In common parlance due to deaths – mostly suicides – of former NHL enforcers in 2011 (Stu Grimson, Wade Belak, Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien) (2011.09.29)
James, X feet/metres James, James level
Winnipeg unit of measurement of the height of Red River, so named for the James Ave. measurement station. Also James Ave. datum(2011.09.29)
orange; orange crush; orange team (also cap.)
Metonym, based on the party’s colour code, used to describe the NDP’s historic win of 102 seats in the 41st general election. Orange Crush (also lc) describes the outpouring of grief and sympathy after NDP leader Jack Layton’s death on 2011.08.22 (2011.05.04, 2011.09.08)
flash robs
Neologism describing online-organized robbery (2011.07.16) of an Ottawa convenience store (2011.08.06)
Derisive description for cafeteria at Valley Park Middle School in Toronto that is turned over to Islamic prayers, with girls segregated twice, every Friday. (Also cap) (2011.07.17)
Mineral Quebec still mines and exports to the Third World, which mining and exporting the Quebec and federal governments defend (2011.07.14)
Stanley Cup riots
Destruction and mayhem in Vancouver on the night of 2011.06.15 after the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins (2011.06.22)
Stop Harper
Very weak sauce, but Michael Bolen claims that Parliamentary page Brigette DePape’s STOP HARPER sign during the Speech from the Throne is some kind of meme. Included here only because this is a longlist, not a shortlist (2011.06.12)
Suspect nonce word, which the Toronto Star claims is in use among Pakistanis here, meaning colony of wives of overseas husbands (2011.06.01)
over the top; OTT
Ridiculous CRTC neologism for any TV service not using cable, airwaves, or satellite; it really just means Netflix. (“Fact-finding exercise”) (2011.05.27)
Feminist demonstrations protesting the presumption that the way a woman dresses invites sexual assault. A Take Back the Night manqué(e) (2011.05.23)
secret squirrels
Nickname for officers at the shadowy Toronto Police intelligence unit. (Betsy Powell’s Toronto Star article [“Inside the lives of ‘secret squirrels,’ ” 2011.05.21] deliberately kept off the Web, it seems) (2011.05.23)
Newbie Quebec MPs, especially NDP. (Canadian French for “[symbolic] posts”; Gazette citation) (2011.05.23)
half-clapper, top()cheddar
Nonce term spontaneously uttered by Colby Armstrong of the Toronto Maple Leafs, microlongevity of which is a surprise even to him. (Buy the T-shirt) (2011.05.11)
Hoop and Holler
Productive form for many terms relating to the Assiniboine River floods in Manitoba in May 2011, including Hoop and Holler cut (intentional cutting of dike) and Hoop and Holler Bend (the actual region) (2011.05.11)
social promotion
De facto education policy in Nunavut in which students are given passing grades even if unearned. (Well attested; also social passing) (2011.05.11)
Vegas (girl)
Nickname (even used within the NDP) for Ruth Ellen Brosseau, an anglophone elected as member of parliament for a francophone riding in Quebec. Her inability to speak French failed to prevent her from getting elected; neither did the vacation she took in Las Vegas during the campaign (2011.05.04)
the Incidents
Nunavut euphemism for Cape Dorset gun crimes (15 and counting). (Globe claims it’s capitalized, but no other citations I found confirm that use) (2011.04.02)
ScaremongAir, Scare-Mongair
Nickname for Conservative staff airplane during ’011 election (2011.03.30)
Gay-straight alliance – in principle required in all Ontario schools but in practice banned in all Ontario Catholic schools(2011.03.24)
Word Bev Oda eventually admitted to handwriting into a previously favourable decision to award aid agency Kairos a $7,098,758 federal grant. (Ostensibly a common occurrence) (2011.03.24)
Unaffectionate police sobriquet for avowed neo-Nazi Kyle McKee of Calgary. (Should really be micro-Führer) (2011.03.24)
contempt of Parliament
Finding (2011.03.14) by House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken on inadequate disclosure of information concerning Bill C-15 (2011.03.24)
(Naheed) Nenshi
The charming, articulate, upbeat Calgary mayor Torontonians wish they had, according to press coverage (2011.03.03)
in-and-out scandal
Claim, supported by court ruling, that the Conservative Party illegally shuffled advertising dollars from local to national campaigns. (Even has its own Wikipedia page) (2011.03.03)
essential service
Designation the Ontario government proposes to apply to the TTC (and later did by legislation) (2011.03.03)
service cut
Term used by opponents of Toronto’s Ford administration to describe Ford administration service cuts (2011.03.03)
slushie facial, slushing
Claimed trend of hooligans from Jarvis Collegiate, Toronto, hurling iced drinks in gay faces à la Glee. (Lower case in original. Slushie® is a trademark for a beverage slurry; it’s clearly in the midst of being kleenexed or xeroxed) (2011.01.24)
Term used, apparently solely in Toronto Star print-edition headlines, to refer to uproar at Mississauga city coucil concerning a memo, of no real importance, leaked roughly 2011.01.07 (2011.01.14)

Updated: 2012.04.11

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