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November 24, 2009

On the Bright Side: Edmeston woman sheds light on dictionary's "Word of the Year"

Christine Lindberg is a woman of many words.

As the senior lexicographer for Oxford's dictionary program in the United States, Lindberg said she maintains the ``heart and soul'' of the dictionary program in her office in Edmeston.

One might imagine the job is a quiet, scholarly one. But Lindberg said she and her word colleagues have had an influx of questions about, and reactions to, the New Oxford American Dictionary's 2009 Word of the Year: unfriend.

The word isn't in the dictionary, but a media release lists it as:

unfriend, verb _ To remove someone as a ``friend'' on an online social-networking site, such as Facebook.

Lindberg said she has been interviewed many times since the featured word was announced in a media release Nov. 16. She has been interviewed for media outlets large and small, including National Public Radio, Voice of America and The Daily Star.

"I've done so many interviews,'' Lindberg said Monday in a telephone chat from her home in Edmeston.

The featured word was chosen by a team of word-watchers, and the release said other finalists included "funemployed,'' taking advantage of newly unemployed status to have fun, and "teabagger,'' a person who protests President Obama's tax policies often through demonstrations known as a "tea party.''

Unfriend also has been widely discussed in blogs and other online avenues.

Lindberg, 55, said she makes monthly trips to New York City for her job, staying at a hotel in Poughkeepsie. She didn't have a tally of how many interviews she has given, but said that Tuesday and Wednesday of last week were the busiest. Demand lessened for awhile but has picked up again this week.

A week ago today, she was so busy answering interview requests that she had to stay in her hotel an extra night, she said.

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