Each year Macquarie Dictionary draws up a long list of new words which have had an impact upon Australian lives, to choose a Word of the Year from those selected for inclusion in the annual update of its online version.
The categories, which include business, the environment, Internet, law and politics, include an array of terms bandied around the public sector in 2008 such as ‘climate porn’ - the term given to climate change alarmists, ‘guerilla gardener’ - a person who plants gardens in areas controlled but neglected by councils or other organisations and ‘toxic debt’ - a debt which, although initially acquired as a legitimate business transaction, proves subsequently to be financially worthless.
Toxic debt is a term that is likely to resonate with Australian councils as many across New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria made paper losses in their investment portfolios through investment products which subsequently vanished during the credit crunch of 2008.
Guerilla gardeners, the latest scourge to councils keen to maintain control of their public spaces, will be given new prominence in a television show for Channel Ten due to air later this year.
The show, called Guerilla Gardeners, met stiff opposition from Marrackville Council in Sydney when a team erected a gazebo and planted new turf in a park in Newtown.
Other words shortlisted for the Word of the Year include 'GFC' - the acronym given by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to the Global Financial Crisis; 'plastic soup' - a floating mass of waste, mainly plastic, which accumulates at the point in the ocean where a gyre is located and a 'pod person' - someone who unquestioningly accepts authority, taking all ideas, dogmas, policies, etc., without question.
Voting for the Word of the Year 2008 is open now and ends at midnight on Saturday 31 January. To vote, log on to www.macquariedictionary.com.au and follow the links to the voting page.