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Democracysausage, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

The Word of The Year In Australia Is "Democracy Sausage"

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Democracysausage, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

Word of the Year season is underway and it’s turning out to be a dark and gloomy one. Oxford Dictionaries chose post-truth. Dictionary.com picked xenophobia. Merriam-Webster, which selects based on number of word lookups, seems on track to crown fascism.

The fraught political landscape giving prominence to these words isn’t confined to any one country. Postfaktisch (“post-truth”) won for Word of the Year in Germany. Austria’s Word of the Year refers to an exhausting, extended, contested presidential election and, at 52 letters long, is also a slog to actually say: Bundespraesidentenstichwahlwiederholungsverschiebung (“postponement of the repeat runoff of the presidential election”).

Now Australia has chosen democracy sausage as its Word of the Year, and while it also comes from the world of politics, it’s from the more cheerful side. Democracy sausage is not some metaphor for all the gross bits and ends that are ground up and stuffed into the process of democracy, but an actual sausage, grilled and served on a slice of bread or a nice roll at polling stations on Election Day. The sausages are sold as fundraisers for the schools, community centers, and churches where voting takes place.

Democracy sausage has been a feature of Election Day in Australia since 2012, but rose to word of the year status this year due to a much publicized gaffe by a politician who awkwardly attempted to eat his sausage from the middle instead of one of the ends. It was also a big topic of discussion because of the growing popularity of internet tools for mapping sausage stalls, enabling people to plan their voting around their eating.

Drinking also made an appearance on the shortlist of Australian word of the year candidates with shoey, a term for champagne or other festive libation drunk out of a shoe in celebration of a sports win. It pairs well with democracy sausage.

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Words
How New Words Become Mainstream
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If you used the words jeggings, muggle, or binge-watch in a sentence 30 years ago, you would have likely been met with stares of confusion. But today these words are common enough to hold spots in the Oxford English Dictionary. Such lingo is a sign that English, as well as any other modern language, is constantly evolving. But the path a word takes to enter the general lexicon isn’t always a straightforward one.

In the video below, TED-Ed lays out how some new words become part of our everyday speech while others fade into obscurity. Some words used by English speakers are borrowed from other languages, like mosquito (Spanish), avatar (Sanskrit), and prairie (French). Other “new” words are actually old ones that have developed different meanings over time. Nice, for example, used to only mean silly, foolish, or ignorant, and meat was used as blanket term to describe any solid food given to livestock.

The internet alone is responsible for a whole new section of our vocabulary, but even the words most exclusive to the web aren’t always original. For instance, the word meme was first used by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene.

To learn more about the true origins of the words we use on a regular basis, check out the full story from TED-Ed below.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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Live Smarter
Why You Should Drop 'Kind of' and 'Sort of' From Your Vocabulary
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How many times have you heard something like this before: “I sort of agree” or “I just kind of wish you had asked me before making that decision.” People tend to couch phrases in qualifying language to protect someone else’s feelings or to protect themselves when they say something that’s potentially inaccurate or makes them feel vulnerable. But no matter how safe and comfortable those words make you feel, they only end up confusing your listeners and hurting your reputation.

Fast Company includes “kind of” and “sort of” on their list of expressions that make you sound like you have no idea what you’re talking about. When you preface a sentence with those words, you’re immediately letting your audience know that they shouldn’t fully trust whatever comes next. Not only does this discredit you as a leader or a confidant, it obscures any feedback or request you were hoping to convey.

“Sort of” and “kind of” aren’t the only crutches insecure speakers love to lean on. Other offenders on Fast Company’s list include “maybe,” “possibly,” “potentially,” and “I’m not sure, but … ”

If qualifiers make poor security blankets, what strategies should speakers use to communicate with confidence? One way is to replace filler words and passive past-tense language with strong action verbs. That way your message will come across clearly and better persuade whomever you're speaking to. If the thought of talking this way terrifies you, try some preemptive confidence exercises before going into your next big meeting or confronting a friend or partner. Working out, practicing power poses, and even checking your own Facebook wall are all ways you can boost your self-image in a pinch.

[h/t Fast Company]

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