Could you live without the word ‘moist’? What if ‘leap’ replaced ‘jump’? Words shape our surroundings and perceptions. The New Yorker’s new social game, know as “Questioningly,” is focused on our relationship to words. Here’s how Ben Greenman explains it,
We’ll pose a question, and then ask you to answer it, either via Facebook or Twitter. The question will challenge you to provide a funny answer, though we will also accept answers that are witty, sharp, amusing, ingenious, or whimsical. When you respond, please use the hashtag #quesTioNinglY—that way we’ll know that you’re participating in the competition. Actually, we’re kidding. That’s way too hard. Just use #tnyquestion. Questioningly runs Fridays until Monday morning, when we’ll retweet the winning entry, along with some runners-up.
For the first week the spin involved eliminating a word from the English language. Here are the results of the first week,
Suggestions were made via Facebook or Twitter, with the hashtag #tnyquestion. We started the contest with high hopes that readers would help to streamline the language, but the first wave of responses was not auspicious. One of the earliest words proposed was “Obama,” and then a little while later, “Washington.” But we were committed to a lexical purge rather than an electoral one. We moved on.
Responses eventually moved past political references and into practical, personal and humorous territories. ‘Moist’ was a fairly despised word but did not win,
In the end, though, we zeroed in on a set of suggestions that sought to update the language of everyday fashion. It wasn’t something we had considered until it was mentioned; then it seemed obvious, even inevitable. They took aim, mainly, at a pair of words for a pair of pants, “trousers” and “slacks,” proposing that they had overstayed their welcome. After a protracted backroom session—arguments were impactful on both sides of the issue—we settled on slacks, which was suggested by multiple entrants, but first suggested by @Nemesisn4sa. Her prize? Mary Norris, of the magazine’s venerable copy department, will write “slacks” on a piece of paper, crumple it, and throw it away, after which we will attempt to pry the Palomino Blackwing pencil from Mary’s hand and mail it to @Nemesisn4sa. We will also ban the word from NewYorker.com for a period of one week.
“Questioningly” allows conversation about language and allows us to consider the worth of words. The next installment takes place on Friday. If you have a personal distaste for a particular verb, or a desire to disrupt NewYorker.com’s editorial process give the game a shot!
[via The New Yorker]