American Dialect Society

learned society on linguistics

The American Dialect Society, founded in 1889, is a learned society for the study of North American languages and dialects. The Society publishes the academic journal, American Speech.


  • Today, if somebody comes up with a new phrase or word, it is spread instantly. Instead of weeks and months, now it takes milliseconds. It doesn't mean these terms will last forever, just that they're suddenly here.
    • Executive Secretary of the American Dialect Society, Allan Metcalf — quoted in Anthony, Ted (Associated Press) (August 9, 1996). "As Humanity Wades Deeper Into The Information Age, American English is changing with it". Free Lance-Star: p. B2. 
  • You'd have to ask Bill Clinton or Bob Dole why it was so important. We are merely recognizing its importance.
    • Allan Metcalf, recording secretary of the American Dialect Society, on the selection of soccer mom as 1996 Word of the Year — quoted in Associated Press. "Soccer mom wins linguists Word of Year award for '96". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: p. 3A. 
  • The term goes back 50 years, but you can't turn on the radio or television without hearing about 'weapons of mass destruction'.
    • Wayne Glowka, chairman of the American Dialect Society's new words committee, on the selection of weapons of mass destruction as 2002 Word of the Year — quoted in Associated Press (January 7, 2003). "Weapons Of Mass Destruction' Voted 2002 Word Of The Year". Ludington Daily News: p. B8. 
  • There is no scientific method of determining which words or phrases will be named words-of-the-year. It's kind of like Time magazine determining the whistle-blowers were the person-of-the-year. There is no objective way of determining it. It's all done with a show of hands.
  • Language changes, and you cannot stop it. It's just like any other part of human culture.
    • Wayne Glowka, chairman of the American Dialect Society's new words committee — quoted in Goodman, David N. (Associated Press) (January 1, 2005). "Certain words make some cringe: Offending words". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: p. 9A. 
  • We dismissed one potential problem—that newspapers wouldn't print the term if it won—on the grounds that we shouldn't censor ourselves. And indeed, in the afternoon's voting, santorum did win, but many newspapers simply skipped this category in their coverage. So much for academic freedom.
  • When you have investment companies losing billions of dollars over something like bundled subprime loans, then you have to consider whether it's important. You probably also want to think about paying off that third mortgage.
  • Yeah, that was a surprise to me. I thought it might be something like texting or blog, but people decided that Google - and the argument from the floor from one of our members was that a lot of people blog, millions of people blog, but everybody googles, young and old. It's so generic that people go to Yahoo and google. So, it's google with a lower-case G.


  • Systematic American dialect research began with the formation of the American Dialect Society in 1889.
    • Algeo, John (2001). The Cambridge History of the English Language: English in North America. The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. p. 257. 
  • Since 1990, the American Dialect Society has included in its annual meeting a vote on Words of the Year, the words that were most notable, prominent, and characteristic of the discourse of the year just past.
    • Metcalf, Allan A. (2002). Predicting New Words: The Secrets of Their Success. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 188. 
  • The American Dialect Society was founded in 1889 with the goal of compiling a dialect dictionary of the United States.
    • Ash, Sharon (2006). "The north american midland as a dialect area". in Murray, Thomas Edward; Simon, Beth Lee. Language variation and change in the American midland. John Benjamins B.V.. p. 34. 
  • The initial hope of the American Dialect Society was to provide a body of data from which a dialect dictionary or series of linguistic maps might be derived.
    • Wolfram, Walt; Natalie Schilling-Estes (2006). American English: Dialects and Variation. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing. p. 24. 
  • Since 1889, dialectologists in English-speaking North America have affiliated themselves with the American Dialect Society, an association which in its first constitution defined its object as "the investigation of the spoken English of the United States and Canada, and incidentally of other non-aboriginal dialects spoken in the same countries."
    • Auroux, Sylvain (2006). History Of The Language Sciences: An International Handbook On Evolution Of The Study Of Language From The Beginnings To The Present. Mouton de Gruyter. p. 2366. ISBN 3110167360. 
  • Flexitarian was voted Most Useful Word in 2003 by the American Dialect Society, a fact widely publicized in the press.
    • Iacobbo, Karen; Michael Iacobbo (2006). Vegetarians and vegans in America today. Praeger Publishers. p. 164. 
  • Members of the American Dialect Society ( study English language use among people living in North America. They analyze how other languages influence English-speaking North Americans, and how, in turn, North Americans influence speakers of other languages.
    • Shelly, Gary B.; Thomas J. Cashman, Susan L. Sebok (2009). Microsoft Office Powerpoint 2007: complete concepts and techniques. Cengage Learning, Inc.. p. 295. 
  • The early work of the American Dialect Society reflects the wide reach and the overlapping linguistic and literary interests centered on language study at the end of the century.
    • Strand, Amy Dunham (2009). Language, gender, and citizenship in American literature, 1789-1919. Routledge. p. 112. 
  • Serious wordinistas will be waiting for the linguistic Oscars, when the American Dialect Society makes its selection in January.
    • Nunberg, Geoffrey (2009). The years of talking dangerously. Public Affairs. p. 12. 
  • While astrophysicists were downgrading the cosmic object we call Pluto, the American Dialect Society, which is more than a century old, was upgrading the status of the word Pluto to a verb, making it their 17th annual 'Word of the Year' for 2006.
    • deGrasse Tyson, Neil (2009). The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.. p. 147. 
  • The American Dialect Society (ADS;, identifies the most influential words of the year. For example, ADS members voted tweet as the Word of the Year for 2009 and google as the word of the decade. Ten years earlier, Y2K was the top choice, web was the word of the decade, and jazz was the word of the century.
    • Coopman, Stephanie J.; James Lull (2012). Public Speaking: The Evolving Art. Wadsworth Cengage Learning. p. 191. 

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikisource has original text related to: