The American Dialect Society has announced their 2013 Word of the Year is “because.” While “because” is a traditional word, in this case it is being recognized in a new form of use, as “introducing a noun, adjective, or other part of speech (e.g., ‘because reasons,’ ‘because awesome’).”
Ben Zimmer, chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society, notes, “This past year, the very old word because exploded with new grammatical possibilities in informal online use. No longer does because have to be followed by of or a full clause. Now one often sees tersely worded rationales like ‘because science’ or ‘because reasons.’ You might not go to a party ‘because tired.’ As one supporter put it, because should be Word of the Year ‘because useful!’”
I was surprised at this Word of the Year as I don’t see a lot of common usage of the context of because as preposition as in the case of “because noun”. In an article in The Atlantic, Megan Garber explains, “You probably know it better, however, as explanation by way of Internet-explanation that maximizes efficiency and irony in equal measure. I’m late because YouTube. You’re reading this because procrastination.”
It is true that a new language is emerging due to the brevity of texting and tweeting, tending to more casual speech and shortening of words or phrases. We try to be brief in the character constrains of Twitter, or provide a concise post on Facebook. In addition, being funny or witty, or using trendy phrases can help capture the attention of our followers.
I can see how the use of “because noun” portrays a casual, humorous and even sarcastic tone that is popular on social media. As Garber says, “It’s a usage, in other words, that is exceptionally bloggy and aggressively casual and implicitly ironic. And also highly adaptable.”
This is also not surprising that it is the second year in a row that the Word of the Year has been inspired by social media. The 2012 Word of the Year was hashtag. Runners-up for 2013 Word of the Year included Obamacare, slash (e.g., “come and visit slash stay” or “I love that place, slash can we go there?”), selfie and twerk.
What do you think? Does the new usage of “because” warrant it being awarded Word of the Year?