Eighth Annual Analysis of the Top Words from Television by the Global Language Monitor
Austin, Texas, September 20, 2011. The Global Language Monitor today announced that the ‘Royal Wedding’ of Kate Middleton and Prince William is the Top Television Word (or phrase) of the 2011 season. ‘Royal Wedding’ topped Charlie Sheen’s self-descriptive ‘Winner’ for the Top Spot. ‘Arab Spring’, ‘X-Factor’, and ‘Oprah’ rounded out the Top Five. ‘Fukashima,’ ‘9/11′, ‘Obama-vision’, ’Chicago-style pols’ and ‘Zombies’ completed the Top Ten. Surprisingly the drama surrounding the killing of Osama bin Laden by Navy Seal Team 6 did not break into the No. 10.
“This apparently is shaping up to be the Year of Kate (Middleton). She has come to dominate the small screen through her engagement, her fashion choices and most of all her Royal Wedding,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “Aside from the princess, this is the first time that ‘news’ has dominated the Top TeleWords of any given year. There are those who maintain that the pace of events is accelerating — and it does appear that social media is playing an ever-expanding role in that process.”
The awards are annually announced at the beginning of the fall television season in the US, traditionally opened with the 63rd Annual Emmy Awards. (Sunday, September 18th, 8:00 p.m. ET). This is the eighth annual analysis by the Austin-based Global Language Monitor.
The Top Telewords of the 2011 season with commentary follow:
1. Royal Wedding (Kate) — Kate reigns once more, this time on the small screen.
2. Winner (Charlie Sheen) – Winner, Tiger blood, goddesses … Fukashima was not the only meltdown on the world stage this year.
3. Arab Spring — The rolling unrest in the Middle East to some extent fueled by social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.
4. X-factor — In algebra, X is the unknown quantity or variable. In TV lingo it stands for Simon Cowell’s empire of dozens of X-factor shows around the globe.
5. Oprah – A name without precedent (or predecessor) rising to prominence because of Winfrey’s season-long farewell tour.
6. Fukashima – The epicenter for the Japanese Triple Disaster (tsunami, earthquake and nuclear meltdown).
7. 9/11 – The recent 10th year commemoration reminds that it is one of the handful of historical events whose date will actually ‘live in infamy’.
8. Obama-vision – The president’s appearances have turned increasingly more prosaic in the third year of his presidency.
9. Chicago-style politics (The Good Wife) – Rahm Emanuel vies with the Good Wife for the better rendition of a Chicago Pol’s life.
10. Zombies (The Walking Dead) – Continue to infect the world through dozens of shows on the small screen.
The Top Telewords of previous years:
2010 – SpillCam from the Gulf Oil Spill, followed by Guido (Jersey Shore) and Reality (TV)
2009 – ObamaVision — All Obama, all the time, everywhere, followed by Financial Meltdown and the death of Michael Jackson.
2008: Beijing (from the Olympics), ObamaSpeak, followed by ‘facts are stubborn things’, ‘it is what it is,’ and Phelpsian.
2007: “Surge” from the Iraq War political and military strategy, “That’s Hot®” Paris Hilton’s popular expression that is now a registered trademark, and “D’oh!” from The Simpsons and The Simpsons Movie.
2006: ‘Truthiness’ and ‘Wikiality’ from the Colbert Show followed by ‘Katrina’, ‘Katie,’ and ‘Dr. McDreamy’.
2005: ‘Refugee’ from the coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, followed by ‘Desperation’ from Desperate Housewives and ‘Camp Cupcake’ from the on-going Martha Stewart follies.
2004: “You’re Fired!” edged “Mess O’ Potamia” followed by “Girlie Men,” “God,” and “Wardrobe Malfunction”.
According to the Global Language Monitor, royal wedding was the “top TV word” of the year. The second-place finisher was winner (courtesy of Charlie Sheen’s uber-public meltdown), and the third was Arab Spring, referring to the uprisings and revolutions that have taken place throughout the Arab world in recent months. At least something substantive made it onto the podium (particularly given that the fourth place finisher was X-Factor, as in the Simon Cowell show, and the fifth was—god love ‘er—Oprah).
Each word counts: The Global Language Monitor also produces an estimate of words in the English language. The number they came up with this year was 1,010,649.7 (the 7/10 of a word presumably counting a phrase a drunk person almost coined). Incidentally, according to their estimate, the number of words in our language is roughly 14% the amount of dollars Warren Buffett paid in federal taxes last year. Mega-rich, indeed.
Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/09/21/wednesday-words-the-buffett-tax-moustache-vocab-and-more/#ixzz1YchByMgg
Sometimes perception is better than reality, and so it is for the brands that have managed to associate themselves with the Olympic Games without paying the exorbitant rights fees that come with official sponsorship.
They’re commonly referred to as “ambush marketers”, and though the London Games are still nearly a year away, some ambush marketers are making more of an impression on Olympic fans than the official sponsors.
That’s according to the first ambush marketing rankings for the London 2012 Olympic Games, released by The Global Language Monitor (GLM), which measures the strength of the brand affiliation between each of the worldwide partners, official partners, and official sponsors and the London Games and then compares it to competing companies that are not officially affiliated with the Games
Sony, Subway, DuPont, Barclay Card and Lenovo are the top five companies with the highest unofficial London brand affiliation.
All have a stronger association with the Games than the official sponsors they compete against.
They’ve achieved this by incorporating Olympic imagery into their ads, such as athletes competing in the sports being contested in London.
Though some object to the term “ambush”, it’s clear that their intention is to gain the positive affiliation with the Games without paying the sponsorship fees, which cost in the nine-figure range for top-level sponsorship.
“Few things in top-tier consumer-facing companies occur ‘naturally’ or ‘spontaneously,’ especially when they are engineered to look that way,” says Paul JJ Payack, president of GLM.
“This is why advertisers adept at associating themselves with an event, even though they are not ‘official’ sponsors of that event, can often out-perform official sponsors.”
Subway, for instance, is roughly two times as likely as official Olympics sponsor McDonald’s to be associated with the Games.
That’s mainly because swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Summer Olympian ever, appears in Subway ads.
“Subway is acknowledged as a leader in this regard [ambush marketing] with their close ties to Michael Phelps, who in many minds personifies the Olympic brand and spirit: clean-living, hard-work, pulling himself up by his own bootstraps,” says Payack.
Some sponsors are still reaping the benefits of past sponsorship. Lenovo, for example, ended its sponsorship deal after the 2008 Beijing Games, but the company is three times as likely as the computer vendor that took its place, Acer, to be associated with the Olympics.
The benefit to these ambush marketers is clear.
They get all of the positives of Olympic sponsorship – the feel-good vibes, the legitimacy, the eyeballs – at a much lower expense.
The International Olympic Committee is not happy about this, of course.
During last year’s Vancouver Games, it successfully lobbied the Canadian Parliament to pass a bill restricting the use of certain combinations of words and numbers in advertising, such as snow, winter and games, to prevent non-sponsors from piggybacking on the Games.
Still, clever advertisers always find a way around that.
Red Bull, which consistently ranks near the top of the ambush list, recently bought naming rights to the new velodrome in London that will house the indoor bicycle events, ensuring the brand name will be heard in broadcasts even if its ads will not.
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By Paul JJ Payack
AUSTIN, Texas. September 11, 2011. For the decade, The Global Language Monitor, and its predecessors have been keeping track of the manner in which the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 have changed the way Americans Talk. We have updated our findings several times since, as the language has evolved with the ensuing events of the decade, most tragic (Iraq, 7/7, Afghanistan, the Global Economic Restructuring), others seemingly beyond surreal (the Southeast Asian Tsunami, the inundation of New Orleans) a welcome few comforting.
We have found subtle yet profound differences in our everyday speech since that day when terrorist attacks unfolded on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the pending targets in Washington, D.C., widely suspected to be the White House or the Capitol Building. The changes we have tracked include the way Americans speak in terms of subject matter, vernacular, word choice and tone.
The first case is the use of 9/11, itself, as a shorthand for the 2001 terrorist attacks. Using various web metrics, 9/11 outpaces any other name, including the spelled out ‘September 11th” by 7:1 margin. This designation, in itself, is quite interesting. It is true that Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed the Pearl Harbor attack as “December 7th, 1941 as a day which will live in infamy”. But there were no “12/7″ rallying cries thereafter. Neither were the dates immortalized of the original battles of the Korean War, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident which preceded the major escalation of the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the siege of Afghanistan siege, or the invasion of Iraq. Only the 7/7 attacks on the London transportation system are recorded in common memory by their date (and primarily in the UK). .
The name Ground Zero now evokes a sacred place, where the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers once stood. It is also revered as a burial ground since thousands of bodies literally vaporized in the ensuing collapse with no remains found whatsoever.
Almost universally, it is capitalized as any other proper name, with a few exceptions, most notably the New York Times (and later legitimized in the AP Style Guide).
In fact, the Times continues to insist on referring to Ground Zero in the lower case, calling it, for example, ‘the area known as ground zero’. Admittedly, ground zero also refers to the epicenter of a nuclear blast. In the minds of this generation, this is a close as they have ever gotten to such an event (or ever expect to).
Names are officially bestowed in a number of ways, most often by bureaucratic committees following arcane sets of rules, answering to few. In this case, we kindly request those nameless bureaucrats to follow the lead of hundreds of millions around the world who have formally bestowed upon that special place, the formal name: Ground Zero.
In mythology, heroes were men and women often of divine ancestry endowed with the gifts of courage and strength. In reality, everyday heroes of the late 20th and early 21st centuries were sports figures (‘Be like Mike’ and ‘Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio’), comic book and cartoon characters ala
Superman and Spiderman, and all too frequently ‘anti-heroes’ known for the colossal damage they might inflict upon a helpless (and often hapless) world.
Into this tableaux, came the heroes of 9/11, very real men and women, rushing into and up the Towers as everyone else was rushing down and out; rushing the cockpit of Flight 93, with plastic knives and forks and hot coffee, forcing the startled highjackers to abandon their plans of crashing into the Capitol or White House rather than the previously unheralded soil of Swanksville, PA; and the men and women who quietly stood their posts at the Pentagon, just doing their duty, not knowing if they would be subjected to another horrific, and more deadly, attack at any moment.
In the post-9/11 world, the term has now come to apply to any who place their lives in danger to foster the common good, especially ‘first-responders’ such as: firefighters, EMTs, and police, who quietly place their lives on the line every day.
Another historic change is the treatment of American soldiers with the respect they have been unaccustomed to since the days of the Vietnam War. The public has evidently been able to separate the politics of the wars from the all-too-human participants.
The suffix in Persian and related languages that means, literally, ‘land of,’ hence, Afghanistan or Land of the Afghans, or Kurdistan (or Kurdish Territories), or even this relatively new moniker: Londonistan. Talibanistan, referring to Afghanistan and the ‘tribal lands’ in Pakistan. The suffix has been appropriated in various, often humorous, ways such as the famous New Yorker cover that referred to the various ‘-stans’ one encounters in post-Modern life.
The Demarcation of Time
The date 9/11 now has a special place as a time marker or time stamp; we now frequently delineate time periods as either pre-9/11 or post 9/11.
The unCivil (or inCivil) War
Since 9/11, the political discourse of American politics has, arguably, descended to its lowest level since the Civil-War era when Lincoln was typically depicted as a know-nothing, Bible-spouting Baboon. Even speech of the Watergate era was spared the hyperbole commonly heard today, as respect for the institution of the presidency remained high, even though the President was widely disdained.
Today, political opponents are routinely called ‘liars,’ are typically compared to Hitler, Nazis and Fascists by those who evidently know little of either history or political theory.
When tragedies do occur (the inundation of New Orleans, the Gulf Oil Spill, the Global Economic Restructuring), no opportunities are overlooked to demonize the sitting president by the ‘loyal’ opposition. And the vitriol has steadily increased throughout the decade as measured by various longitudinal indices of GLM. In fact, much of the frustration with President Obama now associated with liberals and progressives has been trending upward since his inauguration, though it was overlooked by the conventional media and polling organizations because traditional polling and information gathering often finds itself at a disadvantage when compared to Internet and social-media based trend-tracking organizations.
It is very difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of this debasement of political speech and rhetoric, but it has been suggested that in the face of a nearly invisible, constantly morphing, enemy, we have turned the attack inward, upon ourselves, and our institutions.
In an exclusive of the worldwide media, GLM has also found a decided rise in apocalyptic-type terminology in the description of tragedies but even with events of inconvenience (such as Washington’s Snowmageddon of last winter or the recent Carpocalypse in Los Angeles). After all it does snow in Washington, D.C. every winter and freeways are frequently closed the world over for repairs.
This trend town alarming references include: Biblical, Hiroshima-type references, Catastrophe, Holocaust, Apocalypse, decimation, and End-of-the-World scenarios. These alarmist references are recorded across the full spectrum of print and electronic media. It appears as if the world is stunned the string of early 21st catastrophes. (By the way, the world still has to deal with the so-called end of the Mayan calendar extinction event that is scheduled to occur on December 22nd of next year.)
The global media appear mesmerized by the constant bombardment of television images of apparently rampaging, out-of-control elements, such as
the truly catastrophic combination of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown in Japan, where authorities encounter vast difficulties in keeping their own people fed, sheltered, evacuated, and, even, from dying on the street.
During the inundation of New Orleans, the Sunday Times (London) stated, “Devastation that could send an area the size of England back to the Stone Age”. The story continues, “AMERICA comes to an end in Montgomery, Alabama … it has been replaced by a dangerous and paranoid post-apocalyptic landscape, short of all the things fuel, phones, water and electricity needed to keep the 21st century switched on. By the time you reach Waveland, Mississippi, the coastal town of 6,800 where corpses lie amid a scene of Biblical devastation, any semblance of modern society has gone. “
Everyday language changes with 9/11
Some ten years on, we now speak of terror levels (since obsoleted), duct tape, Homeland Security, Full-body scanners, shoe-bombs and shoe-bombers, the Freedom Tower (since renamed), Shanksville, the Ground Zero Mosque, Imans, drones, high-value targets, Ramadan, Burquas, face veils, Sharia Law, and scores of other 9/11-related terms that now inhabit the English Linguasphere.