Top Words of 2010

Spillcam is the Top Word, Anger and Rage the Top Phrase

and Chinese Leader Hu Jintao the Top Name

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AUSTIN, Texas November 27, 2010 (Updated) – The Global Language Monitor has announced that Spillcam is the Top Word, Anger and Rage the Top Phrase and Chinese Leader Hu Jintao the Top Name of 2010 in its annual global survey of the English language.  Spillcam was followed by Vuvuzela, the Narrative, Refudiate, and Guido.  Deficit, Snowmageddon, 3-D, Shellacking and Simplexity rounded out the Top 10.

“Our top words this year come from an environmental disaster, the World Cup, political malapropisms, new senses to ancient words, a booming economic colossus, and a heroic rescue that captivated the world for days on end.  This is fitting for a relentlessly growing global language that is being taken up by thousands of new speakers each and every day,” said Paul JJ Payack, President of The Global Language Monitor.

The words are culled from throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.58 billion speakers.

Methodology: The Global Language Monitor’s WOTY was conceived in 1999 as a way to create a cultural record of the year as reflected in the world’s current global language, English.  Previous efforts were decided by small groups of academics or lexicographers; our idea was to reflect the words used by the world’s 1.5 billion English Speakers.

Accordingly, GLM monitors million of web pages on the Internet, Blogosphere, and social media in addition to over 80,000 print and electronic media sites.  In this way we search for words that are the most relevant to various aspects of culture, such as world events (the rise of China, the South Asian Tsunami), politics (the election of Obama to the US Presidency), prominent deaths (Pope John Paul II, Michael Jackson), war and terror (Iraq, Afghanistan and the  Terrorist Attacks on the US and London), film (Jai Ho!, Brokeback), sports (Beijing Olympics, South African World Cup), and the like. We then use our analytical engine to determine the number of citations for the words, their prominence, how quickly they are rising or falling in use, and the geographic breadth and depth (various forms of publication) of their use.

To immediately download an in-depth presentation of GLM’s algorithmic-based methodology, fill out the form on the upper left corner of this page.

To listen to “What’s My Word,” a game show developed by Austin’s NPR flagship station, KUT,to help review the top words for 2010, click here.

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For the Top Words of the Decade (2000-2009), go here.

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The Top Words of 2010

Rank / Word / Comments


1.  Spillcam — The BP Spillcam instantly beamed the immensity of the Gulf Spill around the world to the dismay of environmentalists, BP’s PR staff and the President.

2.  Vuvuzela — Brightly colored plastic horns that first came to prominence at the South African World Cup.

3.  The Narrative – Though used at least since The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass in 1845,  ‘The Narrative’ has recently been gaining traction in the political arena, virtually replacing the need for a party’s platform.  (Cf. to ‘truthily’.)

4.  Refudiate — Conflation of “refute” and “repudiate” (un)officially coined by Sarah Palin.

5.   Guido and Guidette — Hey! All things Jersey are hot, capish? (Actually, capisci in standard Italian.)

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Listen to Tracking 2010’s Most-Used Words, Names And Phrases

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6.   Deficit – A growing and possibly intractable problem for the economies of most of the developed world.

7.  Snowmagedden (and ‘Snowpocalypse’) — Portmanteau words linking ‘snow’ with ‘apocalypse’ and  ‘armageddon’, used to describe the record snowfalls in the US East Coast and Northern Europe last winter.

8.  3-D — Three-dimensional (as in movies) is buffo box office this year, but 3-D is being used in new ways generally describing ‘robustness’ in products (such as toothpaste).

9.  Shellacking – President Obama’s description of the ‘old-fashioned thumpin’ in George W. Bush’s words, that Democrats received in the 2010 US Mid-term elections.

10.  Simplexity – The paradox of simplifying complex ideas in order to make them easier to understand, the process of which only adds to their complexity.

Also Noted: (Spoken Only) Twenty-ten: Finally, a common way to refer to the year; Obamacare (noted as one of the Top Political Buzzwords).

The Top Phrases of 2010

Rank / Phrase / Comments


1.  Anger and Rage – Characterizations of the US electorate by the pundits, though closer analyses has revealed more frustration and disappointment.  Also witnessed in France, Spain and Greece.

2.  Climate Change – (and Global Warming) No. 1 Phrase for the first decade of the 21st century; starts out second decade at No. 2.

3.  The Great Recession – The media term frequently used to describe the on-going global economic restructuring.

4.  Teachable Moment – Turning any undesirable outcome into a positive opportunity by using it as an object lesson. Unfortunately, there were a plethora of teachable moments in the first year of the new decade.

5.  Tea Party — An emerging political movement in the US that has upset the balance of power in the US Congress.

6.  Ambush Marketing – Cashing in at an event by taking on the appearance of a sponsor of the event.  Most obviously displayed at the Vancouver Winter Olympics and South Africa’s World Cup 2010.

7.  Lady Gaga — Gaga, herself, became a buzzword in the global entertainment industry in 2010.

8.  Man Up – This election cycle’s signature retort from the women running for office to their male opponents.

9.  Pass the bill to be able to see what’s in it — Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s now infamous quip underlying the complexity of the Healthcare Reform legislation.

10.  Obamamania — Notable only in it fall from grace; Obamamania now ranks at the bottom of this year’s political buzzwords.

Also Noted — Don’t Touch My Junk: One reaction to the TSA new search policies.

The Top Names of 2009

Rank / Name / Comments


1.  Hu – President Hu Jintao, paramount leader of China.  Rise of China was the No. 1 Story of the 1st decade of the 21st century; now Hu begins the second decade in the top spot.

2.  IPad – With over eight million sold in a matter of months, the IPad is now a name on everybody’s lips.  (Sorry, Steve Jobs, the IPads tests better than you.)

3.  Barack Obama — President of the United States has had a tough sophomore year.

4.  Chilean Coal Miners – The ordeal and heroic rescue is perhaps the top inspirational story of the year.

5.  Eyjafjallajoekull – Does a name that no one can pronounce deserve a spot on a top name’s list?

6.  Nancy Pelosi – Speaker of the US House of Representatives, presided over the passing of the healthcare reform bill and the decimation of her party in the Mid-term elections.

7.  Sarkozy – Nicolas Paul Stéphane Sarközy de Nagy-Bocsa, the current French president, is attempting to re-define what it means to be citizen of the Republic.

8.  Tea Party – Leaderless movement in US political circles, the center of much of the angst in the electorate.

9.  Jersey Shore – Not quite the Cote d’Azure, The Shore, as the locals call it, is now known as a breeding ground for guidos and guidettes.

10.  David Cameron and Nick Clegg – The leaders of the UK’s new coalition government.

Also Noted — Kate Middleton, recently engaged to Prince William.

Top Words of the Decade:

The Top Words of the Decade were Global Warming, 9/11, and Obama outdistance Bailout, Evacuee, and Derivative; Google, Surge, Chinglish, and Tsunami followed.

Climate Change  was top phrase; Heroes was top name.

Previous Words of the Year include:

2009:

Top Words:  No. 1 Twitter, No. 2 Obama-, No. 3 H1N1

Top Phrases: No. 1 King of Pop, No. 2 Obama-mania, No. 3 Climate Change

Top Names:  No. 1 Obama, No. 2 Michael Jackson, No. 3 Mobama

2008:

Top Words: No. 1 Change, No. 2 Bailout, No. 3 Obama-mania

Top Phrases:  No. 1 Financial Tsunami, No. 2 Global Warming, No. 3 “Yes, We Can!”

Top Names:  No. 1 Barack Obama, No. 2 George W. Bush, No.3 Michael Phelps

 

2007:

Top Words:  No. 1 Hybrid (representing all things green),  No. 2: Surge

Top Phrase: Climate Change

Top Name: Al Gore

2006:

Top Word: Sustainable

Top Phrase: Stay the Course

Top Name: Dafur

2005:

Top Words:  No. 1, Refugee No. 2: Tsunami No. 3: Katrina

Top Phrase: Outside the Mainstream

Top Name: (acts of ) God


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Listen to Top Words 2010 and how they reflect the year

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2004:

Top Word: Incivility (for inCivil War)

Top Phrase: Red States/Blue States No. 2: Rush to War

Top Name: Dubya/Rove

2003:

Top Word: Embedded

Top Phrase:  Shock and Awe,  No. 2: Rush to War

Top Name: Saddam Hussein,  No. 2 Dubya

2002:

Top Word: Misunderestimate

Top Phrase:  Threat Fatigue

Top Name: W (Dubya)

2001:

Top Word: Ground Zero

Top Phrase: ‘Lets Roll’

Top Name:  The Heros

2000:

Top Word:  Chad

Top Phrase:  Dot.com

Top Name: W (Dubya)



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Top Political Buzzwords and the Mid-term Vote

November 7, 2010

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The list of all the political buzzwords measured before the day before the Mid-term Elections in their final ranking .

1.  Lower Taxes

2.  Tea Party

3.  Recession (linked to Obama)

4.  Narrative

5.  Obama Frustration

6.  Sarah Palin

7.  Harry Reid

8.  Barack Obama

9.  Out-of-control Spending

10.  Middle-class taxes

11.   Obama Anger and Rage

12.  Climate Change

13.  Obama Aloof, detached, Prof

14.  Christine O’Donnell

15.   Iraq War

16.   Al qaeda

17.  Obama “oil spill” response

18.  Hillary Clinton Obama

19.  Raise Taxes

20.  Conservative Voter

21.  George Bush

22. Transparency politics

23.  Obama Muslim

24.  Financial meltdown

25.  Nancy Pelosi

26.  Liberal Voter

27.  Subprime

28.  Public Option in HealthCare

29.  Independent Voter

30.  Obama as a compromiser

31.  Recession (linked to Bush)

32.  Stimulus Package

33.  Obama Katrina

34.  Progressive Voter

35.  Surge

36.  Bush Katrina Response

37.  Rush Limbaugh

38.  Deficit Spending

39.  Shovel Ready

40.  BP Gulf Oil spill

41.  Healthcare Mandate

42.  Global Financial/economic Restructuring

43.  Dick Cheney

44.  Wall Street Bailout

45.  Outrage (Linked with Obama)

46.  Socialism (linked with Obama)

47.  Grand Zero Mosque

48.  Town Hall Meetings

49.  Healthcare reform

50.  AIG (Post-bailout Bonuses)

51.  Elena Kagan

52.  Afghanistan

53.  Great Recession

54.  Sotomayor

55.  Michelle Obama Vacation

56.  Anti-incumbent Vote

57.  Politics of fear

58.  Obama Chicago Pol

59.  Iran election/nuclear weapons

60.  Single Payer

61.  Worst Recession

62.  Birther

63.  Change you can believe in

64.  Economic Depression 2010

65.  Politics of change Obama

66.  Death Panel

67 .  Obamamania

68.  Refudiate

69.  Beer Summit (Gates & Cambridge Police)

70.  Wise Latina

71.  Wee weeing

72.  MObama (the Fashion Icon)

Miniskirts on Mount Fuji; Japan’s Yama Girls Spur Trekking

Forget the ice ax and $500 climbing boots. The mode du jour for today’s mountain hikers in Japan is the miniskirt and leggings.

North Face, maker of the Gore-Tex waterproof jacket, and Alpine Tour Service Co. are targeting “yama girls,” or mountain girls, the nickname of the growing number of women who are taking to the hills of Japan wearing short pants or fleece skirts with leggings and designer trekking boots.

“I want to wear something cute like a skirt,” said Machiko Miyauchi, 25, who made her first ascent of Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest peak, earlier this year after buying new equipment and shoes. “Climbing is healing. You can breathe fresh, clean air.”

Visitors to Mount Fuji in the two months ended Aug. 31, the busiest climbing season, were the most since the government began tracking traffic using infrared sensors in 2005. The number of women applying for Alpine’s treks jumped sixfold from last year, prompting the Tokyo-based company to increase women- only tours to 13 this year from six in 2009, spokesman Yasushi Kodama said.

Clothing companies have hired mountain fashion pioneers like Yuri Yosumi to promote new women’s lines for mountaineers. Yosumi’s “Love Trek” website includes red mini dresses and pink bush hats from Paris-based Aigle.

Berghaus Ltd., a U.K. outdoor wear maker, introduced skirts jointly developed with Yosumi in 2009, while and Jarden Corp.’s Marmot Mountain LLC, a U.S. outdoor clothing company, followed this year, according to Yosumi’s husband Daisuke.

Pants Only

“We’re giving an option to the market where only pants were available before,” Daisuke Yosumi said. He said his wife was not available to comment.

Japan’s fashion scene is famous for striking cult trends that sweep the industry, typically for a few years, such as the ganguro look that mixed deep fake tans with white lipstick, brightly colored clothes and orange-to-blond hair. Tokyo ranked 14th this year in Global Language Monitor’s annual list of world fashion capitals, trailing Hong Kong and Shanghai in Asia.

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Avoiding an American ‘Lost decade’

“What we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power and prestige on an unprecedented level, carried out, in von Clausewitz’s words ‘by other means’.”

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Note:  This is the second in a series; you can see the first article directly below this one.
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November 30.  Where do we go from here?  We’ve already established that this is not a typical business cycle and this recession falls out of scope of previous recessions. Even the Great Depression was typical in the sense that it set off a worldwide fall in demand and productivity. It is now widely understood that while government intervention did stop the catastrophic collapse of the global economy, this intervention did little to revitalize global economic growth which did not resume until the onset of World War II.

This post first appeared on TheHill.com

Now, fast forward to September 2008 and months following shortly thereafter. There is wide agreement that the direct and dramatic Bush/Obama interventions did, indeed, prevent a global economic collapse. However, for many nations, including the U.S., the revitalization has yet to occur. While the stimulus spending saved many jobs in the public sector, few jobs were created in the private or wealth-creating sector. In retrospect it now appears that the stimulus was the equivalent to eating empty calories when hungry; a temporary rise in blood sugar without sustained nutrition.

This lack of wealth-building focus has led to a weak economic performance of 2.4 percent projected growth in GDP, hardly what one expects after such spending. (This growth rate has already been revised downward to 1.6 percent in the last quarter.) If this scenario does play out as expected, the eight million lost jobs will be replaced with new ones — by the 2020 time frame. By way of comparison, the “Reagan Recovery” created over 11,000,000 new jobs with four years.

While President Obama’s economic policies and overall execution of leadership is the current focus of many commentators, it remains a fact that this situation didn’t sneak up on us. The United States manufacturing sector has declined as a percentage of non-farm employment from about 30 percent in 1950 to just 9.27 percent in 2010, according to the October estimate of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also, an underlying statistic is that the U.S. has been losing not just manufacturing jobs, but entire factories, over 40,000 of them since 2000. The ramifications here go far beyond the manufacturing sector itself. Indeed, by some estimates, there is a 15-1 multiplier between other jobs (including manufacturing and service) and each manufacturing position. Therefore, this unprecedented loss of an industrial base and its concomitant plethora of supporting positions leave a greatly reduced platform upon which to launch a successful and timely recovery.

And so the question remains: Where do we go from here?

First, take a deep breath, look in the mirror and repeat; the world is different from what it was in 1982 and wishing and acting like it was the same will not bring those lost manufacturing jobs back. No matter what we do, trying to recapture global leadership in industries where the average U.S. salary (excluding benefits) is over $20/hr where the similar cost in China or Mexico is between $2-$6/hr is a losing proposition. This is not to say that the U.S. should not continue to innovate and look to manufacture world-class products, only that we will have to pick our battles in places where we have a strategic competence and a willingness to compete. Specifically, management must be willing to continually analyze each process for best in class behaviors and continually work to improve in order to maintain a leadership position.

Second, focus strategic investment in industries where the U.S. has a substantial lead or could develop one in future. Good examples here are in the area of information technology, where private investment continues to create new enterprises and wealth and “green technology” whose future is yet to unfold. We need to remind ourselves of the effectiveness of the U.S. Space Program, not only in accomplishing its primary mission, but creating entire industries and market that are still returning value to this day.

Third, fully accept that the old manufacturing jobs will not be repatriated and implement a program that will both create true value for the economy while putting people back to work. In past recessions, workers were typically called back to their jobs as the economy improved. This time however, with the loss of so many factories, the jobs platform is significantly smaller and is unable to support the type of recovery we have seen in the past. Now, we must both create jobs in new markets and industries as well as find employment for those whose skill base will not readily transfer to the new jobs platform(s).

A good example of this is the proposal by the Center for American Progress that outlines a plan to develop an energy efficiency industry to retrofit approximately 40 percent of the country’s buildings (approximately 50 million structures) within the next decade. This would require more than $500 billion in public and private investment and create over 600,000 “sustainable” jobs. Under the plan, energy use in those buildings would be reduced up to 40 percent and generate between $32 billion and $64 billion in annual consumer savings. Those savings would be used to re-pay the construction loans that would support the program.

This type of program would both create private sector jobs and help re-build U.S. infrastructure for the next five decades, all the while creating a buffer between the current economic environment and the one that will emerge.

One word of caution: we need a dozen or more initiatives of this kind to even come close to replacing the 8,000,000 lost jobs.

Paul JJ Payack is president of Austin-based Global Language Monitor. Edward ML Peters is CEO of Dallas-based OpenConnect Systems. Their most recent book is “The Paid-for Option”, which describes how healthcare reform can actually pay for itself through the application of process intelligence and its attendant gains in productivity.

A Recession Neither Great Nor Small

What we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power and prestige on an unprecedented level, carried out, in von Clausewitz’s words ‘by other means’.”

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Note:  This is the First in a series; you can see the second article directly above this one.


This post first appeared on TheHill.com

November 3, 2010.  It is about time that we admit that what we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power and prestige on an unprecedented level, carried out, in von Clausewitz’s words “by other means”.

Originally alluded to as a “Financial Tsunami” or “Financial Meltdown,” the major global media seem to have gained a consensus on “The Great Recession”. In the beginning, most comparisons were being made to the Great Economic Depression of the 1930s, more familiarly known, simply, as “The Depression” in the same way that many still refer to World War II as “The War”. But even these comparisons frequently ended up referring to the recession of 1982, yet another so-called “Great Recession”.
Our recent analysis has shown that while the major print and electronic media have settled upon “Great Recession”, the rest of the Internet, blogosphere and social media world have largely eschewed the term. We believe the difficulty here stems from the fact that this economic crisis is difficult to express in words because it does not resemble any economic crisis in recent memory — but rather a crisis of another sort.

“On War” is one of the most influential books on military strategy of all time. Written by Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz (1780 – 1831), it recorded one of his most respected tenets, “War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means,” which is frequently abbreviated to “War is diplomacy carried out by other means’.

We believe that the reason the “Great Recession” label does not now fit is because what we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power and prestige on an unprecedented level, carried out “by other means”.

This fact has entrapped two U.S. presidents, from radically diverging political viewpoints, in the same dilemma: describing an economic phenomenon, that doesn’t play by the old rules. Hence, the difficulty experienced by President Bush as he struggled to describe how the U.S. economy was not in a recession since the GDP had not declined for two consecutive quarters, the traditional definition of a recession, even though jobs were being shed by the millions and the global banking system teetered on the brink of collapse. Now we have President Obama, attempting to describe how the U.S. economy has emerged out of a recession, though the collateral damage in terms of the evaporation of wealth, mortgages, and jobs remains apparently undaunted and unabated.

The regional or global transfer of wealth, power and influence, the destruction of entire industries and the so-called collateral (or human) damage are all hallmarks of what is now being experienced in the West.

If one carefully disassembles the events of the last decade or two, you can see them as the almost inevitable conclusion of a nameless war that began with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the embrace of a form of the free-market system by China, India and the other rising states, an almost unprecedented transfer of wealth from the Western Economies to the Middle East (energy) and South and East Asia (manufactured goods and services), and the substantial transfer of political power and influence that  inevitably follows.

It currently appears that the Western Powers most affected by these transfers cannot adequately explain, or even understand, their present circumstances in a way that makes sense to the citizenry, let alone actually reverse (or even impede) the course of history. In fact, the larger events are playing out while the affected societies seemingly default to the hope that they ultimately can exert some sort of control over a reality that appears to be both out of their grasp and control.

The good news here is that the transfers of wealth, power and influence has proven relatively bloodless but nonetheless destructive for the hundreds of millions of those on the front lines of the economic dislocations.

And it is in this context that the perceived resentment of the Islamic and Arab states should be more clearly viewed. This is especially so as they, too, watch helplessly as the new global reality and re-alignments unfold.

In conclusion, it can be argued that the reason the “Great Recession” label doesn’t seem to fit now is because what we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather an on-going transformational event involving the global transfer of wealth, power and influence on an unprecedented level, carried out “by other means”.

Paul JJ Payack is president of Austin-based Global Language Monitor. Edward ML Peters is CEO of Dallas-based OpenConnect Systems. Their most recent book is “The Paid-for Option”, which describes how healthcare reform can actually pay for itself through the application of process intelligence and its attendant gains in productivity.



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The New Silk Road

Una serie de reportajes por más de 25 países, para explicar la conquista silenciosa del mundo por parte de China. Esta serie constituye un viaje desde las minas de la República Democrática del Congo hasta las explotaciones de gas en el desierto entre Uzbekistán y Turkmenistán, pasando por la Venezuela de Hugo Chávez o el Irán de los ayatolás.

En diciembre de 2009, el centro de análisis estadounidense The Global Language Monitorpublicaba un dato significativo de nuestro tiempo: la “emergencia de China” era “la noticia de la década”. El crecimiento y expansión del gigante asiático desbancaba al atentado del 11-S en Nueva York o la victoria de Barack Obama como hecho noticioso más publicado, buscado y comentado desde el arranque del nuevo siglo en medios de comunicación tradicionales (radio, prensa, televisión), foros y redes sociales.

Que la emergencia del gigante asiático sea “la noticia de la década” puede suponer para muchos una sorpresa. Pero no es más que la consecuencia de una tendencia silenciosa e inexorable que está llamada a cambiar el signo del mundo actual: la expansión de China por los cinco continentes, el deseo de Pekín de volver a ser una superpotencia.

Esta serie lleva por título La Nueva Ruta de la Sedapor razones históricas. Y es que durante siglos la Ruta de la Seda, el comercio, en definitiva, fue una de las pocas -si no la única, junto a las misiones religiosas europeas- forma de contacto de la China imperial con el resto del planeta, particularmente Asia Central, Oriente Medio y Europa. Si la corte de la dinastía Qing (1644–1912) rechazaba en 1792 la visita del enviado del rey británico Jorge III, George Macartney, para abrir más puertos comerciales a la Corona, hoy Pekín avanza en sentido contrario: un proceso de internacionalización sin parangón en su historia que la lleva a los cuatro rincones del globo.

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Election Day Forecast

56-53% Republicans; 44-47% Democrats, 1% Other

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The Inverse of the 2008 Results

AUSTIN, Texas.  Nov. 2, 2010  According to its NarrativeTracker Index, the Global Language Monitor has forecast the results of the

Mid-term Elections based on the number of citations received, relating to Liberal/Progressive, Conservative  and Independent labels.  Election Forecasting by Narrative Tracking has never before been attempted by any party.

Liberal and Progressives were measured together and separately.  Based on the analysis concluded on November 1st , the results are projected to largely inversely mirror the results of 2008, where Obama won some 53% of the vote to McCain’s 46% with 1% other.

With the Independents splitting 6/4 in favor of the Republicans, the 2010 results would range from 56-53% Republicans; with  44% to 47% for the Democrats, with 1% other.

The previous analysis was made in September with six weeks remaining before the elections.  There was no game-altering ‘October Surprise;’  positions around the various issues only solidified.

The NarrativeTracker Index  is based on the national discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic related to healthcare, at any point in time. NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the print and electronic media, as well as new social media sources (such as Twitter).  Including social media in the mix of Internet and electronic and print media sources provides a very clear (and accurate) snapshot of what the people are actually thinking.

The predictive element only adds to NarrativeTracker’s power.  In addition to the NTI, the NarrativeTracker Arc™ follows the rise and fall of sub-stories within the main narrative to provide a comprehensive overview of the narratives being tracked.

About the Global Language Monitor:   Austin, Texas-based Global Language Monitor analyzes and catalogues the latest trends in word usage and word choices, and their impact on the various aspects of culture, with a particular emphasis upon Global English. Since 2003, GLM has launched a number of innovative products and services monitoring the Internet, the Blogosphere, Social Media as well as the Top 25,000 print and electronic media sites,

For more information, call 1.512.815.8836, email editor@GlobalLanguageMonitor.com, or visit www.LanguageMonitor.com.

Obama’s final narrative: A negative mélange of historic proportions

Read it Where Lawmakers go to Express Their Opinions


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AUSTIN, Texas, November 1, 2010.  The final narrative for President Obama, twenty-four hours before the Mid-term Elections has evolved into a negative mélange of historic proportions.  This was reported by the Global Language Monitor (GLM), which has been tracking the narratives that have dominated the perception of the administration and its handling of both its achievements and crises.

In July, the President’s five most prominent narrative arcs included being out-of-touch or aloof; being responsible for the ever-increasing deficit; not responding with enough vigor or authority to the Gulf Oil Spill; the victory of pushing through Healthcare Reform; and gaining a reputation as a Chicago-style pol.  The President’s Oval Office Address on the Gulf Oil Spill seems to have been the temporal demarcation point between a positive or negative narrative carrying over into the 2010 Mid-term Election.  Since that time there are many who contend that Obama’s narrative has been shaped by forces largely out of his control. And indeed, this may be true.

In the following months no single narrative has risen above the others; on the contrary the five Obama Narratives have largely blended into a largely negative, yet muddled, story line.  The result has been an admixture of these five narratives, resulting in an unfortunate amalgam for the president and his party to overcome.

GLM has also been tracking political buzzwords for the last three election cycles. An analysis of the Top Buzzwords of the Mid-Term Elections completed yesterday, and published in a separate release, lend support to these conclusions.

Below is a list of the Obama narratives that have evolved through the last year.

1.     Obama as out-of-touch or aloof

This has only grown stronger over time.  Professorial has now been added to the mix, which is often considered condescending by certain academic communities.

2.     Obama and the deficit

Words linking Obama to deficit have steadily increased as those linking Bush to the deficit have declined.

3.     Obama and the Oil Spill

The completion of the relief well apparently did not provide the president with relief from the issue.  In fact, the President now has more negative ties to the Katrina inundation of New Orleans than George W. Bush.

4.     Obama as HealthCare Reformer

The president’s signature achievement has been largely avoided by members of his party for fear of the overall negative reception to the program adversely affecting their personal chances of (re-)election.  The mistake is explain away the frustration with how the bill was passed, where many had a first-hand look at congressional (and presidential) wheeling dealing as it best (or worst).

5.     Obama as the Chicago-style pol

This usually conveys the ability to make things happen — though in a stealthy, force-your-hand manner reminiscent of the days of cigar-filled back rooms.  Even this has been undone by the ongoing public perception of Obama’s seeming inability to get things done (in spite of the things he actually did).

GLM has been tracking political language for the last three election cycles   As we have detailed over the last two years, while in the midst of the positive media frenzy of the election and inauguration, we were already finding the elements of anger and outrage as one of the highest on record.    At that time, GLM examined the global print and electronic media for the seven days after the following events:  the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the start of the Iraq War, and the week after the Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, and the awarding of the AIG bonuses.

The ranking of ‘outrage’ found in the media was surprising, even startling.

  1. The AIG Bonuses, 2009
  2. The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001
  3. Hurricane Katrina and the Inundation of New Orleans, 2005
  4. The start of the Iraq War, 2003

During the last several months our analysis shows that anger and rage largely have been replaced by frustration and disillusionment.In fact, our continuing NarrativeTracker analysis has found what appears to be a major disconnection between what is reported in the media and what is being discussed in Social Media and the rest of Cyberspace.  This includes a number of Media Memes that resonant among the media.

These Media Memes include:

1.     Outrage in the Electorate

To a large extent, the rise of Outrage in the electorate (accompanying the AIG bonuses) was overlooked while the focus was on the ebullience accompanying the Obama election and Inauguration.  Only this year have ‘anger’ and ‘rage’ become a focus — while the citations show that the electorate has moved beyond this Media Meme to ‘disappointment’ and ‘frustration’.

2.     The Great Recession

The electorate makes no distinction between Recession and Great Recession.  In fact, the Great Recession Media Meme is found to be used only in the elite media, while the electorate seems to believe that something far larger is taking (or has taken) place.  The analysis shows the underlying belief to be that that economy has undergone a structural change that will take years to mend, if ever. (They knew this when Bush tried to explain why the US, according to traditional definitions, was not yet in a recession, and again know this as today’s economists try to explain how the Great Recession is now over because we grew 2% in the last fiscal quarter).

3.     The Idea of Insurgency

The consensus is that there are now about one hundred, or fewer, congressional seats in play, which means that some 77% of the seats are basically locked in.  The idea of insurgency makes great headlines (and ensures a plethora of more great headlines as the future unfolds).  But the fact remains that a minimal number of congressional seats are now in play.

4.     The Tea Party

Tea Party ‘members’ have turned out to be older, better educated, and far more influential than their originally portrayal.  If the war in Afghanistan is fighting the last wars (the Surge in Iraq and the Vietnam ‘quagmire’ then viewing the Tea Party as anything other than a grass roots movement, was a mis-reading of the Obama ‘insurgency’ of ’07 and ’08.

5.      The 24-hour News Cycle

The 24-hour news cycle is true only insofar as the headlines constantly shift.  But the deeper currents are a much more prevailing force that apparently actually drive and shape events.  Focusing on the swirling froth of the ever-changing headlines, allows many to miss the structural changes that are occurring below – much like a tsunami is only apparently when the submerged wave finally hits the shoreline.GLM’s Top Political Buzzwords are based on the Narrative Tracker Index. Narrative Tracker is based on the national discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic, at any point in time. Narrative Tracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the print and electronic media, as well as new social media sources (such as Twitter). In addition to the NTI, the NarrativeTracker Arc™ follows the rise and fall of sub-stories within the main narrative to provide a comprehensive overview of the narratives being tracked.

The next report will discuss the list of the Top Political Buzzwords of the 2010 Mid-term elections.

To read what the Top Buzzwords Tell Us about the Vote, Part I (The Vetting of the President), go here.

To read about the Top Political Buzzwords of the 2010 Mid-term Elections, go here.

Media:  For more information, please call 1.512.815.8836.

About The Global Language Monitor

Austin-Texas-based Global Language Monitor analyzes and catalogues the latest trends in word usage and word choices, and their impact on the various aspects of culture, with a particular emphasis upon Global English.

For more information, call 1.512.815.8836, email editor@LanguageMonitor.com, or visit www.LanguageMonitor.com

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