We really are now nudging the time of year where the round-ups and reflections begin at ALLi. And I am allowing myself to get started by reporting on news of other people’s literary round-ups. Especially when one of those is very close to home: the Word of the Year 2023.
The Word of the Year, as decided by the people at Oxford University Press’ dictionary department, is “rizz.” Originating it seems on Twitch in 2021, rizz is a shortening of charisma, with a very similar meaning but somewhat glossed up and able to be used in that sense as various parts of speech. One of the more interesting facts noted about it is that it is unusual in being a contraction that is formed from the middle rather than the beginning or end of the original longer words.
It pains me to say so, but this is one occasion when I fear our light blue rivals in Cambridge have the upper hand. Cambridge dictionaries have opted for “hallucinate” in the sense that it has most recently acquired. That is, the ability of artificial intelligence to conjure up as facts events, people, and publications that never happened. It’s something many of us who have asked a generative AI platform to write a biography of ourselves will have experienced, as we read with interest of things we never realised we had done. And something that many have learned about in less frivolous circumstances when imagined news items or escapades have cost them friendships or even careers.
One of the most enjoyable awards of every year in the literary world is the Diagram Prize. This year’s shortlist has just been announced for the gong that celebrates the oddest book title of the year. My personal favourite of this year’s delightfully-monikered sextet is Danger Sound Klaxon: The Horn That Changed History by Matthew F Jordan. One of the wonderful things about entrants for this award is that they tend to have a lovely literalness. And this is no exception. What else, one might ask, would one call a history of the klaxon?