And the award goes to ... ‘Subprime’!

According to the American Dialect Society, the word of the year for 2007 was – may I have the envelope please – “Subprime!”

“Subprime” couldn’t be here tonight, he’s in Florida trying to sell a $2 million condo he never got to move into for pennies on the dollar.

Accepting the award on his behalf is last year’s word of the year, “plutoed.”

“Thank you, thank you very much. It’s good to be here tonight. Heck, it’s good to be anywhere. Like most of you, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as ‘word of the year’ until last year, when I was chosen over ‘climate canary’ and ‘ED.’ And let’s hear a big round of applause for the ‘Golden Globes’ for giving us their timeslot this year. Last year, as you remember, the ‘Word of the Year’ ceremony was on RFD-TV at 3 a.m. on a Sunday. The only person who watched the show was my mother, and she TiVo’ed it.

“I also have to say winning the word of the year award hasn’t done much for my career. Since becoming the word of the year in 2006, I’ve only been used 13 times, usually by people who write about words. If you don’t believe me, you can Google it.”

If Pluto’s not a planet anymore, “plutoing” is barely a word. It’s not even in most spell-check programs. I hired an agent to help people understand the meaning of “plutoing,” but he won’t even return my calls. Seems my own agent still uses “downsizing.” I’ve been plutoed off his client list.

His big new gravy train is the lowercase letter “i.” My former agent gets 15 percent every time some company decides to call a product iSomething. iToilet. Ka-ching! “I’m an iSchool graduate.” Ka-ching! “Have you seen my iGlasses?” Ka-Ching! “iAye, Sir!” Ka-ching! He’s making almost as much money off “i” as he did off the letter “e.” E-mail, e-waste, e-mashed potatoes – he gets an e-piece of it all.

“Please don’t start the music yet, I have to thank a lot of people for making ‘subprime’ word of the year. I’m sure, if ‘subprime’ were here tonight, he would like to thank all the people that helped him become word of the year. He’d want to thank the bankers and mortgage companies for loaning people who can’t afford $3.50-per-gallon gas a big enough mortgage to buy a million-dollar house 40 miles from their jobs.

“It’s that kind of non-traditional banking that takes imagination and daring. It’s thinking outside the box. Way, way outside the box. You can’t even see the box from where these loans were made, that’s how far outside the box they are. And ‘box’ would be called ‘jail’ if we used the words ‘pyramid scheme’ instead of ‘subprime loan.’

“And of course, ‘subprime’ would like to thank all the little people, all the little people who thought buying a million-dollar house they couldn’t afford was a sweet idea. ‘Subprime’ salutes you. He couldn’t have done it without you. He’d also like to share this award with the runner-up words of the year, ‘foreclosure,’ ‘bankruptcy,’ ‘write-offs’ and ‘bailouts,’ and ‘multi-million-dollar CEO severance packages.’

“Better luck next year, I’m sure you’ll all still be in the competition.”

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at

Copyright 2008, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

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