Slate offers a nice peek behind the curtains at how the Linguistic Society of America chooses its Words of the Year. Some excerpts:
In the Most Euphemistic category, Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction seemed like a lock until Bill Frawley, the dean of the Columbia College of Arts and Sciences at George Washington University, suggested badly sourced, which was used by Colin Powell and others to mean “false.”
This year the strongest contender [in the Most Outrageous category] was santorum, defined (and heavily promoted) by sex writer Dan Savage—in a campaign to besmirch the name of right-wing Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum—as “the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.” We dismissed one potential problem—that newspapers wouldn’t print the term if it won—on the grounds that we shouldn’t censor ourselves. And indeed, in the afternoon’s voting, santorum did win, but many newspapers simply skipped this category in their coverage. So much for academic freedom.