Reflections on the Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year

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I have just read a very interesting article on The Bookseller announcing that the good people behind the Oxford Dictionaries have chosen ‘post-truth’ as the word of the year for 2016. If you are wondering, as I was, what it means, here it is:

Post-truth: “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

The article went on to specify that it had been chosen because of “this year’s EU referendum in the UK and presidential election in the US, which has seen the word used to describe the irrelevance of truth in today’s politics, as in ‘post-truth politics’.” You can read more about it at the Oxford Dictionaries website.

I feel we need to discuss this.

Now, I don’t want to get political. One of the perks of being a fantasy writer, as opposed to other genres or professions, is that you’re not usually asked what your political views, as they are mostly irrelevant to your art. And I intend to keep to that apolitical persona: what I want to discuss is how we’re doing politics.

This year has seen the UK voting to leave the European Union, Spain electing the conservative party, and the USA electing Trump—and France may be soon electing Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front.

Regardless of whether I agree or disagree with these decisions, I feel these debates have been centred around clear, provable non-truths that served the only purpose of inflaming people’s passions and calling them to actions whose real, factual merits were not known. The chief example of this is how Britons reportedly googled ‘What is the EU’ hours after voting to leave.

This goes to show that demagogy and spin-doctoring are at an all-time high. This is not necessarily new; politics has always been the domain of half-truths and forgotten promises. Our current problem, I believe, arises not from the politicians, but from us, the voters: we are choosing to consume these lies even when we know they have no connection with reality.

It is, after all, only in a context were people choose to be deceived in order to indulge in their confirmation bias that a word such as post-truth could possibly have been coined.

I’m sorry if this post sounds too preachy or political—I promise it will be a long while before I bother you with anything of the sort again!

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19 thoughts on “Reflections on the Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year

  1. I give it a thumbs-down, for it is not clear in meaning. I’ve not heard this word before, and I came up with several interpretations of what does it mean/convey. Not a good sign for a word.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the logic, even though it’s not really a word, it’s a hyphenated word combo. But I love that even more since people make up words and they have no validity in and of themselves, people just pretend they do, kinda like combo and kinda. I dunno though~

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it’s sad that we have collectively got to the stage where it can be considered political or preachy to state that objective facts have value and that lies are lies. I think we will be seeing “post-truth” a lot over the next few years. But it’s a thumbs-up from me that the English language continues to grow and change to meet the needs of its users.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Lets hope so Miguel! Thanks for flagging up this item. In the UK we’ve become used to that expression this year since Brexit so it wasn’t new to me. I think it sums up well people’s deliberate ignoring of the facts in order to maintain their particular world view.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yes!! YESYESYES. It is in fact we-the-collective of voters who cast ballots. The morning of the announcement that Donald Trump had prevailed I was downcast for a shortest while. Then, realizing that in large measure “the people” vote based on inner-state emotions rather than so-called facts, I got on with my life, and now I’m having a jolly good time. Great post; I thank you for it. -Robert

    Liked by 1 person

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