Top Political Buzzwords Paint a Different Picture than the Campaigns

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AUSTIN, Texas, July 12, 2012 —  The Top Political Buzzwords are telling a far different story than either campaign is presenting to the American people, One hundred and twenty-days before the presidential election, the Global Language Monitor has found profound differences between the actual concerns of the public and the political narratives of both parties.  The Top Political Buzzwords 120 Days Before the Vote, was released earlier today.   GLM has tracked political buzzwords associated with the national political scene since 2003 in the process compiling perhaps the largest statistical database of the kind.
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The “War Against Women” is next to last at No. 52 even though it figures quite heavily in the Democratic narrative.  It ranks just below No. 51 Outsourcing, which is key to the narratives of  both parties.  Other political buzzwords on the top of mind in the campaigns but in the bottom ten in the survey include:  the Bush Tax Cuts, Progressive Politics, the Decline in US Manufacturing, Political Stalemate (in Congress), Angry White Males, and the Obstructionist Congress.

The electorate definitely has a sense that the American Dream Still Alive (No.5.) though it is clearly Disappointed in the Obama Administration (No. 6).

The public is quite mindful of the negative tenor of the debate, reflected in the rankings of Toxic Politics (No.2), Haters and those who label their opponents as -phobic (such as Christophobic), (No. 15), and the Politics of Fear (No. 23). Perhaps this helps account for the fact that enthusiasm for the campaign is tempered by non-enthusiasm (Nos. 17 and 18).

The Top Social Issue in the survey was Pregnancy Reduction and Sex-selective Abortion at No. 25, the debate on which crosses the Progressive/Conservative chasm, though neither seems much discussed on the campaign trail.
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Both parties would do well to note that Romney’s Wealth is dead last; the electorate no-doubt inured to the fact that US presidential candidates are frequently wealthy (for example, the Bushes and John Kerry each had fortunes equal to or larger than that of Mitt Romney). Though Mr. Romney should note that Mormonism in Politics is No. 11.
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“The narratives of both political parties are becoming further and further removed from the actual concerns of the American voters,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM, “This is happening because they focus on smaller and smaller segments of voting population, writing off states, demographic segments, and entire geographic regions in the process.”
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Highlights from the analysis include:
  • The top priority is the Current US Economy (1)
  • Responsibility for the Current US Economy is assigned to Obama (1)
  • Responsibility for Great Recession is assigned to Bush (7)
  • The name Obamacare is favored over the Affordable Healthcare Act by a 25:1 margin (3, 42)
  • The hot button top Illegal Aliens is relegated to the No. 21 position
  • The Affordable Healthcare Act [is recognized] as a Middle-class tax (25)
  • Bain Capital is pushed into the background at No. 27
  • The recent Supreme Court Affordable Healthcare Act ruling and Chief Justice John Roberts appears at a modest No. 32 just below Hydraulic Fracturing (31).
  • The issues of the The 1% registers at No. 36, Super Pacs at No.37, and Teachers Unions at No.38.

The Top Political Buzzwords follow:

  1. Current US Economy (with Obama Ownership)
  2. Toxic Politics
  3. ObamaCare
  4. Out-of-control Spending
  5. The American Dream Still alive
  6. Disappointment in Obama Administration
  7. Bush Responsible for Great Recession
  8. The Iraq War
  9. Stimulus Package
  10. Wall Street Bailout
  11. Mormonism in Politics
  12. Rise of China
  13. US Debt Crisis
  14. Middle Class Whites
  15. Identifying opponents as Haters (or -phobic)
  16. Transparency in Government
  17. Excited about Presidential Election
  18. Not Excited about Presidential Election
  19. The Euro Crisis affecting US
  20. Hilary Clinton
  21. Illegal Aliens
  22. Climate Change
  23. Politics of Fear
  24. Afghanistan War
  25. Middle-class tax (Affordable Care Act)
  26. Wall Street Occupy Movement
  27. Bain Capital
  28. Pregnancy Reduction and sex selective abortion
  29. Drone Strikes
  30. Birther
  31. Hydraulic Fracturing
  32. John Roberts Healthcare
  33. George Bush Responsible for US Economy
  34. Keystone Pipeline
  35. Obama responsible for Great Recession
  36. Deficit Spending
  37. The 1%
  38. Super Pacs
  39. Teachers Unions
  40. Global Terrorism
  41. Nuclear Iran
  42. Affordabe Healthcare Act
  43. Long-term Unemployment
  44. Bush Tax Cuts Affecting Middle Class
  45. Progressive politics
  46. Decline US Manufacturing
  47. Political Stalement
  48. Angry White Males
  49. Obstructionist Congress
  50. Obamamania
  51. Outsourcing
  52. War Against Women
  53. Romney Wealth

Political buzzwords are terms or phrases that become loaded with emotional freight beyond the normal meaning of the word.  For example, the word surge has been in the English-language vocabulary since time immemorial.  However, in its context as an Iraq War strategy, it inspired a set of emotions in many people far beyond the norm.

The PQI tracks the frequency of words and phrases in global print and electronic media on the Internet, throughout the Blogosphere, Twitter and other social media outlets, as well as accessing proprietary databases. The PQI is a weighted index that factors in long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum, and velocity.  Because PQI is based on the national discourse, it provides a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic, at any point in time.

TrendTopper MediaBuzz University Rankings for Spring/Summer 2012

Five Universities were added to the list on April 6th.

Below are the top 215 University and Master-degree granting institutions for Spring/Summer 2012 ranked by their Internet Brand Equity as determined by GLM’s analytical methodologies.

 

The Top 215 Universities by Internet MediaBuzz for Spring/Summer 2012

Rank / University

1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2 Harvard University
3 University of Chicago
4 Columbia University
5 University of Wisconsin—Madison
6 Cornell University
7 University of California—Los Angeles
8 Stanford University
9 Yale University
10 University of Texas—Austin
11 University of Washington
12 University of Pennsylvania
13 University of Michigan—Ann Arbor
14 University of California–Berkeley
15 Princeton University
16 Ohio State University—Columbus
17 University of California — Davis
18 Indiana University—Bloomington
19 Virginia Tech
20 New York University
21 Duke University
22 University of California—San Diego
23 Georgia Institute of Technology
24 Johns Hopkins University
25 University of Virginia
26 Georgetown University
27 Boston College
28 University of Georgia
29 University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill
30 Boston University
31 George Washington University
32 Northwestern University
33 University of Southern California
34 University of Pittsburgh
35 University of Illinois—Urbana – Champaign
36 University of Minnesota
37 Brown University
38 University of Miami
39 University of Phoenix
40 University of California—Santa Barbara
41 Michigan State University
42 California Institute of Technology
43 Purdue University
44 University of California—Irvine
45 University of Iowa
46 Carnegie Mellon University
47 Vanderbilt University
48 Texas A&M University
49 University of Maryland—College Park
50 Syracuse University
51 Pennsylvania State University
52 University of Rochester
53 University of California—Santa Cruz
54 University of Notre Dame
55 University of Missouri—Columbia
56 University of California—Riverside
57 Iowa State University
58 Rutgers, the State University of NJ
59 University of Colorado—Boulder
60 Emory University
61 University of Oregon
62 University of Florida
63 University of Massachusetts—Amherst
64 Brigham Young University—Provo
65 Auburn University
66 University of Delaware
67 Washington University in St. Louis
68 Case Western Reserve University
69 University of Kentucky
70 University of Tennessee
71 University of South Carolina—Columbia
72 Tufts University
73 Rice University
74 Dartmouth College
75 Baylor University
76 Northeastern University
77 University of Connecticut
78 Wake Forest University
79 University of Kansas
80 Missouri U. of Science and Technology
81 University of Arizona
82 North Carolina State University—Raleigh
83 University of Vermont
84 University of Oklahoma
85 Fordham University
86 Arizona State University
87 Tuskegee University
88 Tulane University
89 Southern Methodist University
90 Howard University
91 Villanova University
92 Xavier University
93 Loyola University, Chicago
94 Lehigh University
95 Miami University—Ohio
96 Drexel University
97 University of Denver
98 Marquette University
99 College of William and Mary
100 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
101 Texas Christian University
102 Brandeis University
103 University of Dayton
104 James Madison University
105 DePaul University
106 Washington State University
107 Santa Clara University
108 Colorado State University
109 University of New Hampshire
110 Kansas State University
111 American University
112 Rochester Inst. of Technology
113 Truman State University
114 University of Alabama
115 University of Arkansas
116 St. Mary’s College of California
117 University of San Diego
118 Liberty University
119 Hofstra University
120 Catholic University of America
121 SUNY—Stony Brook
122 St Louis University
123 CUNY-Queens
124 Worcester Polytechnic Institute
125 St. Catherine University
126 Creighton University
127 Illinois Institute of Technology
128 Towson University
129 Californis State U — Long Beach
130 Kaplan University
131 Providence College
132 Pepperdine University
133 Yeshiva University
134 Drake University
135 Butler University
136 St. Joseph’s University
137 Texas State U — San Marcos
138 Loyola University New Orleans
139 CUNY-Brooklyn
140 University of the Pacific
141 Clemson University
142 Gonzaga University
143 CUNY-Hunter College
144 CUNY-Baruch
145 Walden University
146 Seattle University
147 Ithaca College
148 St Johns University NY
149 Montclair State University
150 Binghamton– SUNY
151 Clark University
152 Capella University
153 Stevens Institute of Technology
154 Emerson College
155 Colorado School of Mines
156 Chapman University
157 University of Tulsa
158 Loyola Marymount University
159 Loyola College Maryland
160 Quinnipiac University
161 University of Redlands
162 New Jersey Institute of Technology
163 Manhattan College
164 Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
165 Mills College
166 Elon University
167 Bradley University
168 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical U.
169 John Carroll University
170 Stetson University
171 CUNY-City College
172 The Citadel
173 Bentley University
174 University at Buffalo—SUNY
175 Abilene Christian University
176 Valparaiso University
177 Cal Poly—San Luis Obispo
178 Clarkson University
179 Fairfield University
180 University of San Francisco
181 Rider University
182 Morgan State University
183 Iona College
184 University of Scranton
185 Michigan Technological University
186 Xavier University of Louisiana
187 Simmons College
188 Sacred Heart University
189 Western Governors University
190 University of Dallas
191 Springfield College
192 Oral Roberts University
193 St. Mary’s University of San Antonio
194 Ramapo College
195 College of Charleston
196 University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
197 Evergreen State
198 Florida A&M University
199 Wagner College
200 University of Portland
201 Alfred University
202 St Edward’s University
203 Rollins College
204 Baldwin – Wallace College
205 Dillard University (LA)
206 Rowan University
207 University of Mary Washington
208 LaSalle University
209 Manhattanville College
210 University of Northern Iowa
211 St. Bonaventure University
212 Hamline University
213 Hood College
214 Whitworth University
215 Augsburg College


The TrendTopper MediaBuzz Rankings measure near real-time movements of an institution’s reputation or ‘brand equity’, using the same techniques used to measure the appeal of any other branded product, such as luxury automobiles, or consumer electronics. For the first time GLM expanded the Rankings to over 400 schools, 210 in the University Division with another 200 in the College Division to widen the bases of comparison for the education marketplace.

Unlike other college rankings, specialty schools such as Julliard, SAIC, and the Cooper Union, the service academies, business, tech schools are included in the rankings.  Also incorporated into the rankings are ‘for profit” (University of Phoenix) and online institutions, such as Capella and Walden.  This is to provide true comparisons between and among the various types of post-secondary institutions now available to the discerning educational consumers. The full rankings  include positive or negative movement, and MediaBuzz Velocity and Momentum that reveal how a school’s (short-term and long-term) brand equity is increasing or decreasing against its peer group, and the other competitors.

Methodology

The  TrendTopper MediaBuzz Analysis uses the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s classifications as the basis to distinguish between Universities and Colleges. The schools were ranked in the last week of March 2012, with a December snapshot as well as the last day of the previous surveys as the base.

TrendTopper MediaBuzz utilizes a  mathematical model that ‘normalizes’ the data collected from the Internet, social media, and blogosphere as well as the top 175,000 print and electronic media, as well as new social media as they emerge.  The end result is a non-biased analytical tool that provides a gauge of relative values among various institutions, as well as measures of how that value changes over time.

What Others are Saying:

Colleges, Ranked by ‘Media Buzz’

By Eric Hoover

A savvy enrollment manager once told me that a crucial part of his job was getting his college’s name in newspapers and magazines. After all, he said, the more people see an institution’s name, the more familiar it becomes, and the more attractive it seems to prospective students.

He was describing “buzz,” something most colleges crave. In case you didn’t know, the Global Language Monitor will measure it for you.

 

Top Tech Buzzwords Everyone Uses but Don’t Quite Understand (2012)

‘Big Data’ and ‘The Cloud’ are the Most Confusing Tech Buzzwords of the Decade (thus far)

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SOA continues its reign as most confusing acronym

 

For the 2013 Update, go here!


Austin, Texas, March 15, 2012 — ’Big Data’ and ‘The Cloud’ are the Most Confusing Tech Buzzwords of the Decade (thus far) according to the  The Global Language Monitor.  Topping the list for 2012 are:  Big Data, the Cloud, The Next Big Thing, Social Discovery, Web 2.0 (3.0, and so on).  Solid State, CERN, Solar Max, De-dupe, 3G/4G/5G, and SoLoMo.

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Continuing as the most confusing  acronym now of the century:  SOA.
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GLM releases its Most Confusing Tech Buzzwords list annually in conjunction with Austin’s SXSW Interactive conference, which ends March 20th.
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“High tech terms have long spilled into popular culture and this is nowhere more evident that at SXSW where the digital world intersects with those of music and the movies,” said Paul JJ Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor.   ”To a large and growing extent, high tech buzzwords are fueling the growth of English, which now serves as the Earth’s means of global communication.”

“SXSW can best be described as a weird mash-up of Cannes, COMDEX, and Woodstock.  If creative ideas don’t mix here, it’s just not going to happen.

The Global Language Monitor uses a proprietary algorithm, the Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI) to track the frequency of words and phrases in the global print and electronic media, on the Internet, throughout the Blogosphere, as well as accessing proprietary databases.  The PQI is a weighted Index, factoring in: long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum, and velocity.
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The Most Confusing High Tech Buzzwords of the of the Second Decade of the 21st century, thus far (2010, 2011 & 2012) with commentary follow:
  1. Big Data — Big Data is the biggest buzzword.  It has been called the key to new waves of productivity growth, essential to the US place in global economics, and more.  Now if only we could agree on exactly what this means and how we get there.  (By the way, consider yottabytes: a quadrillion gigabytes.  Hint:  Just think a lotta bytes.)
  2. ‘The Cloud — The Cloud, in various manifestations has been ranked No. 1 for 2008, No, 4 overall for the decade, and now as No. 2 for 2012.   Still all very nebulous.
  3. The Next Big Thing — A cliche rendered nearly meaningless by the innumerable daily claims made by VCs, entrepreneurs, college drop-outs, etc.  Actually, you can count the history of next big things on your fingers, and possibly toes.
  4. Social Discovery — Webster’s 1910 definition. “Consisting in union of mutual converse,” might be an excellent corporate strategy.
  5. Web 2.0 (3.0, and so on) — Ranked as the 1,000,000th English-language word in 2009, it just keeps morphing along.
  6. Solid State —  As in Solid State Disks (SSDs).  Remember ‘solid-state’ televisions switched from vacuum tubes (Paleozoic)? How about LED watches from the ’80s (Mesozoic)?  Today, it’s all-about Solid State Disks.
  7. CERN — You might want to understand the acronym before the Earth is swallowed up the ‘mini’ black hole it just might create .  (The European Organization for Nuclear Research)
  8. Solar Max — In the 1850s telegraph wires melted.  Best not to shuck off the hype here.
  9. De-dupe — First we dupe, then we de-dupe; Flash forward to 2014:  Re-duping!  Ah, the next big thing!
  10. 3G/4G/5G — One of the benefits of having an open, open standard (AKA, no standard). Anybody can claim to lead as the (Generation) ‘standard’ expands into meaningless.
  11. SoLoMo — This is not an oh-so-trendy neighborhood like Soho or Dumbo, at least not in the sense of brick-and-mortar.  This is the convergence of Social, Local, and Mobile. The Talk of the Town at SXSWi this week in Austin.
The Most Confusing Tech Acronym of 2012:  SOA (Solutions Oriented Architecture), continuing its Most Confusing Tech Acronym of the Decade reign.  Not only is there an highly popular SOA for Dummies edition but Google Books list 47,300 editions that explicate upon the subject.
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For reference, here is the  first decade (2000-2009) of the 21st century.
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The Most Confusing High Tech Buzzwords of the first decade (2000-2009) of the 21st century with Commentary follow:
  1. HTTP — HyperText Transfer Protocol is used for HTML (HyperText Markup Language) files. Not to be confused with text on too much Starbucks.
  2. Flash — As in Flash Memory.  “Flash’  is easier to say than “ I brought the report on my EEPROM chip with a thin oxide layer separating a floating gate and control gate utilizing Fowler-Nordheim electron tunneling”.
  3. God Particle – The Higgs boson, thought to account for mass.  The God Particle has eluded discovery since its existence was first postulated some thirty years ago.
  4. Cloud Computing – Distributing or accessing programs and services across the Internet. (The Internet is represented as a cloud.)
  5. Plasma (as in plasma TV) — Refers less often to blood products than to a kind of television screen technology that uses matrix of gas plasma cells, which are charged by differing  electrical voltages to create an image.
  6. IPOD – What the Alpha Whale calls his personal pod.  Actually, Apple maintains that the idea of the iPod was from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.  The origin of the word IPAD is a completely different story.
  7. Megapixel – Either a really large picture element (pixel) or a whole mess of pixels.  Actually, one million pixels (that’s a lotta pixels) OK, what’s a pixel? Computer-ese for picture element.
  8. Nano – Widely used to describe anything  small as in nanotechnology.   Like the word ‘mini’ which originally referred to the red hues in Italian miniature paintings, the word nano- is ultimately derived from the ancient Greek word for ‘dwarf’.
  9. Resonate – Not the tendency of a system to oscillate at maximum amplitude, but the ability to relate to (or resonate with) a customer’s desires.
  10. Virtualization – Around since dinosaurs walked the planet (the late ‘70s) virtualization now applies to everything from infrastructures to I/O.
  11. Solution — Ever popular yet still an amorphous description of high tech packages of hardware, software and service
  12. Cookie — Without cookies with their ‘persistent state’ management mechanism the web as we know it, would cease to exist.
  13. Robust — No one quite knows what it means, but it’s good for your product to demonstrate robustness
  14. Emoticon   A smiley with an emotional component (from emotional icon).  Now, what’s a smiley? :’)
  15. De-duping – Shorthand for de-duplication, that is, removing redundant data from a system.
  16. Green washing – Repositioning your product so that its shortfalls are now positioned as environmental benefits:  Not enough power?  Just re-position as energy-saving.
  17. Buzzword Compliant — To include the latest buzzwords in literature about a product or service in order to make it ‘resonate’ with the customer.
  18. Petaflop — A thousand trillion (or quadrillion) floating point operations per second   Often mistaken as a comment on a failed program by an animal rights’ group.
  19. Hadron – A particle made of quarks bound together by the strong force; they are either mesons (made of one quark and one anti-quark) or baryons (made of three quarks).
  20. Large Hadron Collider – The ‘atom smasher’ located underground outside Geneva.  Primarily built to re-create the conditions of creation, 1 trillionth of a second after the Big Bang.

Top Words of 2011, ‘Occupy’ is 2011 Word of the Year

Occupy is the Top Word of the Year,

Arab Spring is the Top Phrase of the Year and

Steve Jobs is the Top Name of the Year

Global Language Monitor’s 12th Annual Survey of Global English

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AUSTIN, Texas  December 6, 2011 (Updated from November 10) — The Global Language Monitor has announced that ‘Occupy’ is the Top Word, ‘Arab Spring’ the Top Phrase and ‘Steve Jobs’ the Top Name of 2011 in its annual global survey of the English language. Occupy was followed by deficit, fracking, drone, and non-veg. Kummerspeck, haboob, 3Q, Trustafarians, and (the other) 99 rounded out the Top 10.

“Our selections this year, to a large extent, reflect the ongoing political and economic uncertainty that seems to be affecting much of the developed world – with notable exceptions such as the Royal wedding and the continuing rise of China ,” said Paul JJ Payack, President of the Global Language Monitor.

“Our top words, phrases and names this year come from five continents… confirmation of the ever-expanding influence of the English language.

“The words are culled from throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.58 billion speakers. The Global Language Monitor’s Word of the Year rankings are based upon actual word usage in the English speaking world.

“In global English, words are not bestowed upon, agreed upon, or voted upon by cultural or academic elites but, rather, words are defined from the bottom up, that is, by the people themselves — and this is true whether in the East End of London, or south-central LA, the projects in Brooklyn, the slums of Kingston, the call centers of Mumbai, the streets of Singapore, the text messages out of Shanghai, or the fashion districts of Sydney.”

GLM employs its NarrativeTracker technologies for global Internet and social media analysis. NarrativeTracker is based on global discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture about any topic, at any point in time. NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the top 75,000 print and electronic global media, as well as new social media sources.

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See the Photo Essay from the Toronto Star

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BBC Magazine: The rich: Exactly what does that mean?

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.2011, l’année Steve Jobs?

(Time Person of the Year?)



Nunberg also selects ‘occupy’ as the 2011 Word of the Year

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The Top Words of 2011

Rank / Word / Comments

1. Occupy – ‘Occupy’ has risen to pre-eminence through Occupy Movement, the occupation of Iraq, and the so-called ‘Occupied Territories’.   (Also named by NPR and Time.)

2. Deficit – Growing and possibly intractable problem for the economies of the developed world.

3. Fracking – Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial method for extracting fossil fuels from hitherto unreachable deposits.

4. Drone – The ever increasing number of remotely piloted aircraft used for reconnaissance and attack purposes.

5. Non-veg – A meal served with meat, originally from India, now catching on worldwide.

6. Kummerspeck – From the German seeing wider acceptance in the English, excess weight gained from emotional overeating (grief bacon).

See the Photo Essay from The Stylist (UK)

7. Haboob – A name imported from the Arabic for massive sandstorms in the American Southwest.

8. 3Q – Near universal term for ‘thank you’ now earning additional status after being banned from official Chinese dictionaries. Another example of the ever- increasing mixing of numbers and letters to form words.

9. Trustafarians – Well-to-do youth (trust-funders) living a faux-Bohemian life style, now associated with the London Riots.

10. (The Other) 99 – Referring to the majority of those living in Western Democracies who are left out of the dramatic rise in earnings associated with “the Top 1%”.

The Top Phrases of 2011

Rank / Phrase / Comment

1. Arab Spring – The series of uprisings, social protests, and rebellions occurring among many nations of the Arab World beginning this spring.

2. Royal Wedding – The wedding of the former Kate Middleton and heir-to-the-British-Throne, Prince William that captivated millions around the world.

3. Anger and Rage – Characterizations of the global electorate by the pundits, though closer analyses has revealed more frustration than anger and more disappointment than rage.

4. Climate Change – No. 1 phrase for the first decade of the 21st century; still resonates into its second decade.

5. The Great Recession – Though officially over, the media term most frequently used to describe the on-going global economic restructuring.

6. Tahrir Square – The scene of the ‘25th of January’ demonstrations in Cairo against Hosni Mubarak.

7. Linear No Threshold (LNT) – The methodology to calculate risk from exposure to radioactive elements from the Fukushima Daiiachi disaster.

8. Bunga Bunga – Re-emerged in the language through ‘bunga-bunga’ parties hosted by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

9. ‘How’s that working out for you?’ – The New York Times credits Sarah Palin, but it predates her use of the phrase by several decades.

10. “Make no mistake about it!” – President Obama has repeated the phrase thousands of times since his 2008 election.

The Top Names of 2011

Rank / Name / Comments

1. Steve Jobs – The citations for Steve Jobs topped those for No. 2 (Osama bin-Laden and Seal Team 6) by more than 30%.

2. Osama bin-Laden & Seal Team 6 – Who changed the world more? Al-Qaeda or Steve Jobs?

3. Fukushima – The epicenter of the Japanese Triple Disaster (earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown).

4. Mohamed Bouazizi – the Tunisian fruit vendor who set himself afire and became the symbol of Tunisian resistance – and the Arab Spring.

5. Chinese Paramount Leader Hu Jintao – The Rise of the Tiger being a primary cause of the Global Economic Restructuring.

6. Kate Middleton – She captivated the world with her elegance and style and continues to do so as the Duchess of Cambridge.

7. Muammar Gaddafi – Libyan strongman toppled in the recent insurrection.

8. President Obama – Hope and Change retreat further into the history books; the game plan is now for survival.

9. PIIGS – The nations of Portugal, Ireland, Italy Greece and Spain taken together for their untenable deficits possibly affecting the economic health of the Eurozone.

10. Yaroslavl Lokomotiv – The ill-fated elite Russian hockey team that was virtually wiped out in the crash of a three-engine Yak-42.

Top Words of the Decade

The Top Words of the Decade  Global Warming, 9/11, and Obama outdistanced Bailout, Evacuee, and Derivative; Google, Surge, Chinglish, and Tsunami followed. Climate Change was top phrase; Heroes was the top name.

Previous Words of the Year include:

2010:
Top Words: No. 1 Spillcam, No. 2 Vuvuzela, No. 3 The Narrative
Top Phrases: No. 1 Anger and Rage, No. 2 Climate Change, No. 3 The Great Recession
Top Names: No. 1 Hu Jintao, paramount leader of China, No. 2 iPad, No. 3 Barack Obama

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

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)

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 info@LanguageMonitor.com, or visit www.LanguageMonitor.com.

Danger of long-term effects Fukushima fallout little discussed in media


Prevailing view ‘harmless,’ Opposing views called ‘laced with hysteria’

AUSTIN, Texas. March 23, 2011. With radioactive elements from Japan’s Fukushima Daiiachi disaster finally reaching the continental US this week, the Global Language Monitor’s NarrativeTracker has found that the possible long-term dangers of Fukushima Daiiachi’s radioactive fallout has been little discussed in the media. In fact, there has been little or no discussion of the ongoing debate about assessing the long-term risks associated with Cesium-137 and Iodine-131, etc.

The prevailing view of the global print and electronic media is to pronounce the radioactive elements ‘harmless,’ which is in direct contract to the accepted view of the National Academy of Sciences, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and many others. In fact, the discussion that does appear, labels opposing views as ‘irrational’ or ‘laced with hysteria’, as in a recent article in the New York Times.

According the the Global Language Monitor’s NarrativeTracker there have been only two references to the controversy in the past week in the major global media, or even to the fact that the analysis of the heath impact of the escaped radiation could be far off base. An article in the Malaysian Star was the most insightful. Even on the web news side, NarrativeTracker picked up fewer that half a dozen references to the controversy in the last week.

On the Internet and in Social Media, there were some 10,000 references to the controversy, which pales in comparison to news about, say Charlie Sheen (who has hundreds of million citations). In addition, there were about three million references to the ‘harmless’ effects of the Fukushima fallout, with about 7,000,000 references to its ‘dangers’.

Therefore, the prevailing and accepted view of the National Academy of Sciences, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and, for that matter, the US Congress has been overlooked in the global media discussion. This is the view that holds sway in legislation ranging from the regulation of cigarettes, CT scans and the Hanford Reservation cleanup. In addition to the risk to human life, billions of dollars in government are at stake.

The controversy concerns Linear No Threshold (LNT) methodology to calculate risk from exposure to radioactive elements. The LNT dose-response relationship is used to describe the relationship between radiation dose and the occurrence of cancer. This dose-response model suggests that any increase in dose, no matter how small, results in an incremental increase in risk. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) accepts the LNT hypothesis as a conservative model for estimating radiation risk.

There are two competing theories here.

1.   There is no lower-level threshold to the threat from radioactive exposure. Basically this means that even a small exposure to radioactivity will increase the chance of cancer occurring in a corresponding small percentage of the population. The smaller the exposure, the smaller the risk, but the risk never falls to zero.

2.   There is a lower-level threshold to the threat from radioactive exposure. This is model that the media has adopted in claims that the fallout is ‘harmless’ while still recognizing that it is harmful in large doses. Some scientists adhere to the radiation hormesis model that radiation might even be beneficial in very low doses

The LNT model is generally accepted by most governments and scientific agencies and predicts higher risks than the threshold model. Because the current data is inconclusive, scientists disagree on which methodology should be used.

However, the fact that there has been little or no discussion of the topic in the media is cause for concern.

Casualties in Japan Disasters could reach 25,000 or more

AUSTIN, Texas, March 14, 2011 — According to Global Language Monitor’s NarrativeTracker Technology the ultimate number of casualties resulting from the Japanese Quake and Tsunami could ultimately climb to over 25,000 and possibly reaching 50,000, or more.

“The depth of this tragedy is even deeper than what we had already imagined it to be” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “Only our understanding of the true magnitude of the tragedy, will enable us to move beyond it, to rebuild what needs to be rebuilt and renew what needs to be renewed. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of those who were struck down – and the survivors who carry on.”

The analysis is based on NarrativeTracker’s analytical methodologies.  Statements by public, corporate and military officials as well as outside agencies and various experts were complied and examined with appropriate trendlines extrapolated.   The progression has been noted from the earliest reports where casualties were said to be ‘several hundred’, then ‘nearly a thousand’ and now in the ‘tens of thousands’..  At the same time, GLM noted the many reports of still-missing trains, ships, and good-sized villages where fewer than half the population has as not yet been accounted for.

The analysis compared trends in casualty-reporting with several  disasters including the Haitian earthquake, Hurricane Katrina’s inundation of New Orleans, and the Southeast Asia Tsunami.

The analysis assumes that there are no deaths associated with the partial meltdowns of a number of nuclear reactors.  GLM notes that this is an analysis is an estimate that is based on trending factors and should be considered as such.

Updates on the Japanese Disasters

For updates and analysis go to our DisasterTrack pages, where:

  • You can help name the disaster (and see what others are thinking).   Send nominations to disastertracking@gmail.com.
</p>
<h4><strong>The Tsunami Rushes to Shore</strong></h4>
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The Tsunami Rushes to Shore

  • You can download a Japanese publication called Earthquake Disaster Prevention Guidebook

 

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  • You can track  current earthquakes in California and around the planet.

 

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  • You can follow the latest disaster-related updates from our DisasterTrack Twitter feed.


Can your family or business survive a disaster for three days? Click Here!

Social Media Have Become Warrior Media

Social Media as a Strategic Weapon

By Edward ML Peters and Paul JJ Payack


Austin, Texas. March 1, 2011 — An analysis by the Global Language Monitor has found that a new weapon has recently been detected in the world’s strategic arsenal.

According to Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM, “To  the uninitiated, it might appear to be part neutron bomb, which destroys only living things with little collateral damage,   part some as yet unidentified weapon, which has the ability topple dictators, regimes and unsuspecting governments while rendering both living things and physical structures unharmed.

“We are speaking, of course, about Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.), which have the apparent ability to re-align the social order in real time, with little or no advanced warning.”

In June 2009, we named Web 2.0 the 1,000,000th word in Global English.  Many in the media were confused by our definition:

the next generation of products and services from the web, currently beyond imagination.  Later in 2009, we named Twitter the word of the year.  Some were surprised when we defined Twitter as ‘the ability to encapsulate human thought in 140 characters’.  They were thinking of Twitter as a means for BFFs to gratuitously unfriend each other.  We were thinking of it as a radical new form of communication.

Social Media is adhering to its etymological roots more tightly than one might expect.  The word ‘social’ ultimately derives from ‘secg,’ an Old English word for ‘warrior’.   The social media ‘warrior’ now understands that the role of social media is not a fad but a mechanism to better understand socio-economic trends and issues – in real time.

So it is even more surprising that the events of the last six weeks in the Middle East appear to have come as a shock to the Western Powers and Global Media.

Again.

Three years ago the media was shocked when an unexpected series of financial events set the global financial markets spinning out-of-control.  In retrospect, we now see that only the strongest intervention of the Western Central Banks prevented what was horrific into becoming something downright catastrophic.  The Western economies still suffer from the consequences.

A few month later, the media was shocked by the unprecedented run of a relatively unknown and untested Black man to the presidency to the United States.  (Undoubtedly, it would have been shocked if his primary nemesis, the current US Secretary of State, had successfully navigated her campaign to become the first female president of the United States.)

Then a year ago, the media was shocked by 1) the rise of the Tea Party, 2) the ‘shellacking’ the President took in the Mid-term elections, and 3) now the upheavals in the Middle Eastern world that appear to have come as a shock to both the Western Powers and Global Media.

At least we are consistent in our on-going sense of shock.

The question becomes why do we continue to be shocked whenever we witness this new reality foisted upon us by means of communications never before imagined?  Obviously, even to the casual observer, there is an on-going global transformation of  industries, wealth and influence as evidenced by the evolving role of nation-states, the rise of Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), and the proliferation of trans-national causes and corporations – that is apparently out of the span of command of many contemporary institutions.

Read More From These Authors on The Hill
Read More From These Authors on The Hill

The question remains:  why the surprise? Why the sense of shock?   We’ve seen this all before, but have apparently lacked the vision to put it all together.  A common thread among recent strategic advances is that all are new forms of communications. We should keep this in mind and not dismiss social media as a passing fad for the young and foolish, but rather as new tools, new social instruments, or even strategic weapons that can, will and are having societal and strategic influences around the globe today.

So once again we have a list of surprises to confront:

  • People voting with their thumbs
  • Simultaneous uprisings in the Middle East
  • Long-ingrained totalitarian dictatorships falling
  • Christian and Muslim groups celebrating together

And our astonishment only continues to grow as the future unfolds.

After all, we’ve never seen anything like this before.

Again.



Did Watson Really Beat Humans on Jeopardy? We Think Not!

Analysis into the ‘natural language processing’ claim.

AUSTIN, TEXAS.  March 1, 2011 — An analysis by the Global Language Monitor has found that Watson, the IBM Computer specifically designed to compete on the Jeopardy television show was not the victory of a machine tackling ‘natural language processing’  that many had been led to believe but rather a “a massive marketing coup,” as described in the Boston Globe.

When Watson bested two live-wear, carbon-based lifeforms named Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, on the Jeopardy Television show a few days ago, it was widely viewed as a great advance in ‘natural language processing’.  Natural Language Processing is concerned with the interactions between computers and human (natural) languages.

As Ben Zimmer in the New York Times put it, Watson “came through with flying colors.”  And he was certainly not alone in his judgment.  There were many comparisons to the John Henry man vs. machine tale where the legendary ‘steel-driving’ railroad man challenges a steam hammer, and wins, only to collapse and die shortly thereafter.  It appeared as if the entire media went a little bit gaga (no pun intended) with stories on this great milestone in cyber (and possibly human) history.

Is this analysis true?  As Steve Colbert might put it, there is some ‘truthiness’ in the statement.  Watson did, in fact, best his human competitors, but if we are to “speaking truthiness to power,” we should ensure that we fully understand the nature of the competition.

“Comments like the above missed the mark for a very simple reason,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst at GLM.  ”Watson did not prove adept at processing language in a manner similar to humans.  In fact, computers have dramatically failed at this task for four decades now.  What Watson has accomplished is a far cry from ‘natural language processing’.

Rather what Watson achieved was a very close approximation of appearing as if it had acquired an acuity at understanding of the English language. This, in itself, is an accomplishment to be acknowledged.  (But as in the old joke goes about a dog talking, it’s not that it was done well but rather that it was done at all.)  After all, Watson was designed from the ground up as a ‘question-answering machine,’ as IBM readily admits.  However this, in itself, is not quite accurate because Watson was specifically built as a ‘Jeopardy game-show answering machine’ “.

One problem is that few commentators understand what it means to actually program a computer at all, let alone the ‘machine coding’ which might be construed as the most basic unit of computer ‘thought’.  Even those who are familiar with today’s coding techniques are familiar with HTML or a variation of C++ or Linux, etc.  All of these ‘languages’ are as distant from machine coding technology as they are from understanding the mathematics of the Higgs boson and why it has been described as the ‘God particle’ at CERN.  Unfortunately, there will be  no friendly, Watson-like, avatar that will announce from the CERN lab that the God Particle has been identified, when and if ever.  We might also find out about that discovery when (as has been estimated by the CERN staff) the acceptable risk the 1 out of 50,000,000 chance hits and the whole enterprise results in the destruction of the entire planet though the creation of an, admittedly small, black hole.

The field of artificial intelligence has for decades been handicapped with the idea of emulating humans; whether their thinking, their speaking, their chess-playing ability or their ability to perambulate.  To make the advances we have seen recently, computer scientists had to literally re-think (and in many cases reverse) their earlier positions.

The key, as found in recent research, is not to emulate humans; rather the key is to define ‘machine logic’ or how would a machine do it, given its capabilities and limitations.  In other words do not attempt to  see like the human eye sees but attempt to see as a machine would see.  Rather than teach a machine everything there is to know about how a human gets around, the task becomes to teach a machine the few basic rules it needs to move forward, back up and to work around obstacles.  This is much different than a baby learning how to crawl which involves cognition, motor skills, sight, volition, and the sense of feel.

In the same way most would construe natural language processing would be the ability to understand basic sentences, concepts or instructions in a straight-forward manner.  Is this what Watson accomplished.  Consider the following:

Here’s what Watson needed to handle the ‘natural language’ of Jeopardy.

  • 90 IBM Power 750 servers
  • Each of the 90 IBM Power 750 servers is equipped with eight processors
  • A total 2,880 Central Processing Units (CPUs)
  • 1 network-attached storage (NAS) cluster
  • 21.6TB of data
  • 15 full-time technical professionals, as well any number of advisors and consultants
  • 5 years of development time
  • ’1,000s’ of computer algorithms to run simultaneously
  • 1 overlying algorithm to review the results of all the others
  • 1 power robotic finger

Incidentally, the effort required a minimum of $100,000,000 funding for personnel, some $25,000,000 in equipment, as well as all the costs associated with cooling, administration, transportation, and the like.

All of this reminds us of Gary Kasparov losing the famous chess match to IBM’s Deep Blue back in 1997.  IBM was allowed to modify its program between games.  In effect, this let IBM programmers compensate for any Deep Blue weaknesses Kasparov exposed during the game.  How, in any way, could this be considered a level playing field?  Once this was discovered, Kasparov requested a rematch, but IBM had already dismantled Deep Blue.

As for those comparisons with the legendary ‘iron-driving man’, we have one piece of advice:  John Henry, call your lawyer.

Note:  Each year GLM releases the Top High Tech Words Everyone Uses But Nobody Quite Understands.  This year’s edition will be released in conjunction with SXSWi on March 13, 2011.



Obama Echoes Lincoln and King in Dignified Tucson Memorial Address

Could presage a new narrative for the president

AUSTIN, Texas January 13, 2011  Echoing Lincoln, King, and, even, Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama gave his strongest speech, perhaps since his “Yes, We Can!” victory speech delivered in Chicago’s Grant Park last November.

The president delivered the speech with the cadence of a eulogy to the packed audience of some 12,000 at the University of Arizona’s McKale Memorial Center.  The crowd had none of the hallmarks of a hand-selected, pre-screened crowd that we have come to expect for such occasions; tickets were distributed on a first-come first-served basis.

Obama’s remarks echoed Lincoln and Martin Luther King in at least two respects: 1) the use of scriptural passages to set the tone, 2) and the emphasis on worthiness and living up to expectations of the children, particularly those of Cristina Green, the inspirational nine-year old girl, who was born on September 11, 2001.

Structurally, the address was nearly identical to his “Yes, We Can!” speech, Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream,” and Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”.  Though delivered to differing audiences in different eras, the speeches each had nearly identical ‘understandability statistics’ in terms of grammatical constructions, rhetorical elements, tone and vocabulary.  In terms of empathetic concern, he echoed Bill Clinton, who was often referred to as the “Mourner in Chief” with his ‘I feel your pain’ mantra.

It was a somber, sorrowful message filled with future-related, hopeful constructions with words such as hope, light, and love  address delivered to a respectfully attentive crowd. With the 2010 Mid-term elections now in his wake, this can be an opportunity to begin a new narrative for the remainder of Obama’s term.



2011 Top 300 Colleges and Universities Ranked by Internet ‘Brand Equity’

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Wisconsin Tops Chicago and Harvard in Universities; Davidson over Occidental and Williams in Colleges

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Historic Re-alignment of what is considered an ‘elite’ school

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AUSTIN, Texas January 11, 2011 (Updated) — The University of Wisconsin at Madison, one of the nation’s most storied land-grant institutions, leaped over Chicago, Harvard, MIT, Columbia and two-time defending No. 1 (and fellow Big Ten academic  powerhouse) Michigan, as the Top University according to the TrendTopper MediaBuzz Internet analysis released by the Global Language Monitor.

There have now had three different schools taking the top spot for Universities in the last three years:  Harvard, Michigan and now Wisconsin.  As for Harvard, it slipped to No. 3, while the University of Chicago moved into the No. 2 spot.  Cornell University and the University of California at Berkeley broke into the Top Ten, knocking out Stanford and Princeton.  UCLA also fell out of the Top Ten.  Other big movers included Georgetown, California-Davis and CalTech, each moving up 10 or more spots.

“The ‘flight to quality’ continues unabated.  The savvy consumer of the education marketplace appears centered on the price-sensitive ‘public ivies’ and technology-centered schools, as well as on-line alternatives.  The solidly performing ‘little ivies’ are now now fairly well distributed across the country– and are holding their own,” said Paul JJ Payack, President of the Global Language Monitor.”  One  aftermath of the recent recession is that consumers understand that it is smart not to accept ‘retail pricing’ and that colleges are no different in this regard from any other institution.”

The TrendTopper MediaBuzz Rankings are a way of seeing the schools through the eyes of the world at large. It is a democratic, self-generating ratings system, since it captures the brand equity associated with each of these fine institutions. GLM’s TrendTopper MediaBuzz Rankings actually removes all bias inherent in each of the other published rankings, since they actually reflect what is being said and stated on the billions of web pages that we measure.

The  TrendTopper MediaBuzz Analysis uses the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s classifications as the basis to distinguish between Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges. The schools were ranked in the last week of December with a mid-year snapshot, and the last day of 2009 as the base.

TrendTopper MediaBuzz utilizes a mathematical model that ‘normalizes’ the data collected from the Internet, social media, and blogosphere as well as the top 75,000 print and electronic media.  The end result is a non-biased analytical tool that provides a gauge of relative values among various institutions, as well as measures of how that value changes over time.

The Top Ten Universities by the TrendTopper MediaBuzz Internet rankings follow.

1.   Univ. of Wisconsin—Madison

2.   University of Chicago

3.   Harvard University

4.   Mass. Institute of Technology

5.   Columbia University

6.   Univ. of Michigan—Ann Arbor

7.   Cornell University

8.   University of California–Berkeley

9.  Yale University

10.   University of Texas—Austin

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The Top Twenty Universities now include four Ivy League schools, four Public Ivy’s (two from the Big Ten), one technological institute and the always formidable University of Chicago.

 

 

 

 

 

The College category also produced a new No. 1, Davidson College of North Carolina.  This is the fourth different college to take the top spot since these rankings began which now have been represented by the West (Colorado College), the East (Wellesley College) and the Midwest (Carleton College).  Wellesley was also the only Women’s College to top a general college ranking.

 

Davidson, as well as L.A.’s Occidental College (where President Obama spent his first year in college) both leaped over the Little Three (Amherst, Williams and Wesleyan University) as well as all three previous No. 1’s.

The Top Ten Colleges by the TrendTopper MediaBuzz Internet rankings follow.

1.   Davidson College

2.   Occidental College

3.   Williams College

4.   Wesleyan University

5.   Carleton College

6.   Amherst College

7.   Bucknell University

8.   Oberlin College

9.   United States Air Force Academy

10.  Pomona College

The Top Ten among colleges included Bucknell, Oberlin, Pomona and the US Air Force Academy.  The Top Twenty included the Little Three, four of the former Seven Sisters (though Vassar is now co-ed), two Patriot League schools, two US Service Academies, the top Catholic College in the US (College of the Holy Cross), two of the Claremont Colleges, and two schools that are not included in the traditional college rankings:  the Juilliard School and Pratt Institute, both in New York City.

The TrendTopper MediaBuzz Rankings are the only to  include specialty schools, such as Art, Business, Design, Music, as well as Internet-based (and for-profit)   All these were included in the College category with the exception of the online university, which was assigned to the University category.


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Top Colleges Winter 2011

2011 TrendTopper MediaBuzz Internet “Brand Equity” Rankings

Wisconsin Tops Chicago and Harvard in Universities; Davidson over Occidental and Williams in Colleges

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Historic Re-alignment of what is considered an ‘elite’ school

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AUSTIN, Texas December 30, 2010  – The University of Wisconsin at Madison, one of the nation’s most storied land-grant institutions, leapt over Chicago, Harvard, MIT, Columbia and two-time defending No. 1 (and fellow Big Ten academic  powerhouse) Michigan, as the Top University according to the TrendTopper MediaBuzz Internet analysis released by the Global Language Monitor.

There have now had three different schools taking the top spot for Universities in the last three years:  Harvard, Michigan and now Wisconsin.  As for Harvard, it slipped to No. 3, while the University of Chicago moved into the No. 2 spot.  Cornell University and the University of California at Berkeley broke into the Top Ten, knocking out Stanford and Princeton.  UCLA also fell out of the Top Ten.  Other big movers included Georgetown, California-Davis and CalTech, each moving up ten or more spots.

“The ‘flight to quality’ continues unabated.  The savvy consumer of the education marketplace appears centered on the price-sensitive ‘public ivies’ and technology-centered schools, as well as on-line alternatives.  The solidly performing ‘little Ivies’ are now now fairly well distributed across the country– and are holding their own,” said Paul JJ Payack, President of the Global Language Monitor.”  One  aftermath of the recent recession is that consumers understand that it is smart not to accept ‘retail pricing’ and that colleges are no different in this regard from any other institution.”

The TrendTopper MediaBuzz Rankings are a way of seeing the schools through the eyes of the world at large. It is a democratic, self-generating ratings system, since it captures the brand equity associated with each of these fine institutions. GLM’s TrendTopper MediaBuzz Rankings actually removes all bias inherent in each of the other published rankings, since they actually reflect what is being said and stated on the billions of web pages that we measure.

The  TrendTopper MediaBuzz Analysis uses the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s classifications as the basis to distinguish between Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges. The schools were ranked in the last week of December with a mid-year snapshot, and the last day of 2009 as the base.

TrendTopper MediaBuzz utilizes a mathematical model that ‘normalizes’ the data collected from the Internet, social media, and blogosphere as well as the top 75,000 print and electronic media.  The end result is a non-biased analytical tool that provides a gauge of relative values among various institutions, as well as measures of how that value changes over time.

The Top Twenty Universities by the TrendTopper MediaBuzz Internet rankings follow.

1.   Univ. of Wisconsin—Madison

2.   University of Chicago

3.   Harvard University

4.   Mass. Institute of Technology

5.   Columbia University

6.   Univ. of Michigan—Ann Arbor

7.   Cornell University

8.   University of California–Berkeley

9.  Yale University

10.   University of Texas—Austin

11.   Stanford University

12.   Princeton University

13.   University of California — Davis

14.   Georgetown University

15.   Duke University

16.   University of California—Los Angeles

17.   University of Washington

18.   New York University

19.   California Institute of Technology

20.   Johns Hopkins University

The Top Ten Universities now include four Ivy League schools, four Public Ivy’s (two from the Big Ten), one technological institute and the always formidable University of Chicago.

We have now three different schools taking the top spot for Universities in the last three Years:  Harvard, Michigan and now Wisconsin.

As for Harvard, it slipped to No. 3, while the University of Chicago moved into the No. 2 spot. Cornell University and the University of California at Berkeley broke into the Top Ten, knocking out Stanford and Princeton.  UCLA also fell out of the Top Ten.

Other big movers included Georgetown, California-Davis and CalTech, all moving up ten or more spots.

The College category also produced a new No. 1, Davidson College of North Carolina.  This is the fourth different college to take the top spot since these rankings began which now have been represented by the West (Colorado College), the East (Wellesley College) and the Midwest (Carleton College).  Wellesley was also the only Women’s College to top a general college ranking.

Davidson, as well as L.A.’s Occidental College (where President Obama spent his first year in college) both leapt over the Little Three (Amherst, Williams and Wesleyan University) as well as all three previous No. 1’s:  Carleton College, Wellesley College, and Colorado College.

The Top Twenty Colleges by the TrendTopper MediaBuzz Internet rankings follow.

1.   Davidson College

2.   Occidental College

3.   Williams College

4.   Wesleyan University

5.   Carleton College

6.   Amherst College

7.   Bucknell University

8.   Oberlin College

9.   United States Air Force Academy

10.  Pomona College

11.  Wellesley College

12.  Juilliard School of Music

13.   Vassar College

14.   Pratt Institute

15.   United States Military Academy

16.   Smith College

17.   Bowdoin College

18.   College of the Holy Cross

19.   Claremont McKenna College

20.   Bryn Mawr College

The Top Ten among colleges included Bucknell, Oberlin, Pomona and the US Air Force Academy.  The Top Twenty included the Little Three, four of the former Seven Sisters (though Vassar is now co-ed), two Patriot League schools, two US Service Academies, the top Catholic College in the US (College of the Holy Cross), two of the Claremont Colleges, and two schools that are not included in the traditional college rankings:  the Juilliard School and Pratt Institute, both in New York City.

The TrendTopper MediaBuzz Rankings are the only to  include specialty schools, such as Art, Business, Design, Music, as well as Internet-based (and for-profit)   All these were included in the College category with the exception of the online university, which was assigned to the University category.

In addition, the BOC notation signifies Best of Class; it is noted for those schools that are either first in the overall ranking, or first in a specific classification.

Top in the US/Best of Class (BOC) designation was awarded for:

•  Top University: University of Wisconsin, Madison

•  Top College: Davidson College

•  Top Engineering Hybrid School: The Cooper Union

•  Top Business: Babson College

•  Top Art and Design School: Pratt Institute

•  Top Art School: School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)

•  Top Music School: The Juilliard School

•  Top Online University: University of Phoenix

•  Top Christian School: Wheaton College, Illinois

•  Top Catholic College: College of the Holy Cross

• Top Catholic University: Georgetown University

• Top Service Academy: United States Air Force Academy

•  Top Outré College (New Category): Oberlin

The rankings also include the Biggest Movers for both colleges and universities and the Top States for Top Colleges.

The Universities that gained the most ‘media momentum’ since our last analysis were:

1.  Worcester Polytechnic Institute

2.  Miami University—Oxford

3.  Lehigh University

4. Cal Poly—San Luis Obispo

5. University of California—Irvine

6. CUNY-Queens

7. Georgetown University

8. Mills College

9. University of Denver

10. Rice University

The Colleges that have gained the most ‘media momentum’ since our last analysis were:

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1.  Smith College

2.  Trinity College CT

3.  St. John’s College MD

4.  School of Visual Arts (NY)

5.  Fashion Institute of Technology

6.  St Lawrence University

7.  Swarthmore College

8.  Hampshire College

9.  Gettysburg College

10.  Oberlin College

In addition, each of the forty-two states with top colleges is listed with the combined rankings of colleges and universities within the state.

The top five states for top colleges, along with the number of top colleges within the states include:

1.  New York (45)

2.  California (30)

3.  Massachusetts (25)

4.  Pennsylvania (22)

5.  Illinois (12)

The 2011 TrendTopper MediaBuzz Internet Rankings contains all of the above information on the Top 300 US Colleges and Universities, with added detail.

About The TrendTopper MediaBuzz Rankings

GLM created the TrendTopper MediaBuzz Rankings to remove all bias that we saw as inherent in each of the other published rankings, be they peer assessments, the opinion of high school guidance counselors, the ratio of endowment to number of students, number of left-leaning professors, and all the rest.

The 53 page guide includes the following:

  1. Why another college guide; why TrendTopper MediaBuzz?
  2. Introduction – A New Reality
  3. Highlights for Winter/Spring 2011
  4. About TrendTopper MediaBuzz™
  5. Top Universities for Winter/Spring 2011
  6. Top Colleges for Winter/Spring 2011
  7. Universities with Greatest Change
  8. Biggest Movers – Universities
  9. Biggest Movers – Colleges
  10. Top States for Top Schools
  11. TrendTopper MediaBuzz Backgrounder

We found it highly interest that many institutions used our rankings as a validation of their recent reputation management decisions:

Harvard University: “Rankings highlight correlation between university prestige and media coverage … Indeed, the study seems to validate the Harvard Kennedy School’s recent decision to rebrand itself. Known as the Kennedy School of Government until last spring, the public policy and administration changed its shorthand so that it includes the word “Harvard”.

GLM’s College Reputation Management Services are part of our  TrendTopper Branding Services.

To learn more, click here.

Boston College: “University Spokesman Jack Dunn said, “Boston College’s ranking in this study serves as an affirmation of what we have long believed. Academic research and accomplishments along with media citations and this recent ranking are all affirmations of the growing steam of this university.” The major factors that contributed to BC’s high ranking were a well-published academic community, a strong public relations office, and a successful sports program in recent years.

Vanderbilt University: “… when prospective students, faculty, friends and neighbors hear ‘Vanderbilt’ they associate it with excellent academic programs, innovative research, world class health care, the best students, a gorgeous campus, a dynamic hometown, rockin’ athletics and more. And, by one measure at least, we’re succeeding.”

Chronicle of Higher Education: “[GLM’s TrendTopper analysis] is at least one measure of wealth, success and prestige,” Hoover said. “Even on campuses where presidents do not put too much stock into rankings themselves, it is something they must think about” because alums and top students pay attention to them. – Eric Hoover, marketing strategies, Chronicle of Higher Education, quoted in Harvard Crimson.

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For more information, call  1.512.815.8836  or email pjjp@post.harvard.edu.

  1. Why another college guide; why TrendTopper MediaBuzz?
  2. Introduction – A New Reality
  3. Highlights for Winter/Spring 2011
  4. About TrendTopper MediaBuzz™
  5. Top Universities for Winter/Spring 2011
  6. Top Colleges for Winter/Spring 2011
  7. Universities with Greatest Change
  8. Biggest Movers – Universities
  9. Biggest Movers – Colleges
  10. Top States for Top Schools
  11. TrendTopper MediaBuzz Backgrounder

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)

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.

[Read More.]



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

What Rage? Frustration and Disappointment Outdistance Anger and Rage by 275%

What Political Buzzwords Tell Us about the Vote, Part II

AUSTIN, Texas.  October 21, 2010 — Reports of ‘anger’ and ‘rage’ at the economy, incumbents or President Obama himself as the main theme of the 2010 Mid-term elections have been greatly overstated, possibly for political motivations. In an analysis of the Top

Political Buzzwords of the 2010 Mid-terms, Global Language Monitor (GLM), has determined that the words ‘anger’ and ‘rage’ and their various combinations come in a distant second to words associated with ‘disappointment’, ‘frustration’ or being ‘let down’ by the actions of the Administration.

Obama
Anger and Rage: 27%
Disappoint and Frustration: 73%

GLM has also found that the top three subjects linked to ‘anger’ and ‘rage’ outside the Administration are Healthcare Reform, the various actions termed Bailouts, and the initial Stimulus package, formally named the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Anger
Healthcare Reform: 52%
Stimulus Package: 33%
Bailout: 15%

Internet, Blogs and Social Media

GLM has found ‘anger’ and ‘rage’ to appear far less in the media on the internet, blogs and social media sites than one might expect from reading the headlines. In the last 30 days, the New York Times used the word ‘rage’ in political contexts some 70 times, a far greater percentage than what was found in the overall media, on the Internet, the Blogosphere and in Social Media.

Read the Where Congress Goes to Blog on the Hill.

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Anti-incumbent Rage

The phrase ‘incumbent rage’ is highlighted as a major trend of the Mid-term elections. Once again, the use of this phrase and variations is noteworthy only in their dearth of references.

World-wide news searches find that ‘anti-incumbent’ appears about 550 times in the global media in the last 30 days, of which some twenty percent of the references appear in the AP, the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN and the Wall Street Journal, while ‘anti-incumbent rage’ appears twice. In comparison, the word incumbent appears some 19,000 times.

Global Media Percentage of Total
Incumbent: 96.97%
Anti-incumbent: 3.02%
Anti-incumbent Rage: 0.01%

When you add in the Internet, the Blogs and Social Media as well the top 5,000 global media, the total number of citations approach 20,000,000 and reflect a broader dialogue about the topic. However, ‘anti-incumbent rage’ still hovers below 1%.

Internet Percentage of Total
Incumbent: 99.16%
Anti-incumbent: 0.80%
Anti-incumbent Rage: 0.05%

Lack of Competitiveness in Congressional Races

Over the last several decades, the political cognoscenti have bemoaned the lack of competitiveness of congressional elections. Both parties, of course, have done all within their power to keep it that way, primarily through the gerrymandering of districts to their own benefit. The latest trend is to create ‘majority-minority’ districts that virtually ensure the election of a member of a specific demographic group.

In 2010, various news organizations estimate that there are between 35 and 80 competitive congressional districts, or districts ‘in-play’. This is, of course, is attributed to ‘voter’ and/or ‘anti-incumbent rage.’ Even so, this means that a majority of districts, ranging from 92% to 81% are still considered non-competitive. To our way of thinking, this is a very important development – and one that should be further encouraged.

Congressional Districts: 435
Competitive Maximum (80): 18.39%
Competitive Minimum (35): 8.05%

Positive vs. Negative Tea Party Citations

In a related finding, GLM found that overall the Tea Party is viewed more positively than negatively, by a small percentage of the overall number of citations.

Tea Party
Positive Associations: 54%
Negative associations: 46%

We will discuss this further in What the Top Political Buzzwords Tell Us about the Vote, Part III.

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.

To read What Political 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.

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@GlobalLanguageMonitor.com, or visit www.LanguageMonitor.com
Paul JJ Payack

The Vetting of the President

What the Top Political Buzzwords Tell Us About the Vote, Part I

AUSTIN, Texas,  October 4, 2010 — Recently, the Global Language Monitor (GLM) announced that the Top Buzzwords of the Mid-term Election.   GLM found that the buzzwords portrayed a strongly negative narrative that has increasingly entangled the president and his party.   The Top Ten Buzzwords included Narrative, Lower Taxes, Obama as a Muslim, Conservative, Climate Change, Liberal, Recession (linked to Obama), Hillary Clinton related to Obama, Tea Partiers, and Obama as Aloof, Detached, or Professorial.  In the interim GLM has found that Obama as a Smoker will break into the Top Ten when the list is updated two week hence.

This is the first of a number of reports that will analyze what the top political buzzwords seemingly tells us about the upcoming vote.

The first thing you notice about the Top Political Buzzwords of the Midterm Elections is that many concern President Obama as a person.  Two years into his presidency, this tells us something about the president’s relationship to the American people:   a good number of citizens are only now beginning to understand the president as a person.  And it is interesting to see that many news organizations, apart from the blogs and talk radio shows, are also following these citizens’ lead.  Only now is President Obama being ‘vetted’.

According to yourDictionary.com,  ’to vet’ is the process ‘to examine, investigate, or evaluate in a thorough or expert way’.    In the throes of Obama-mania, many were apparently willing to take a chance on the engaging, handsome, thoughtful newcomer, especially after many eventful and exhausting years under his predecessor.   We read the autobiographies, we joined the explosive rallies, and we watched as the entire world seemed to yearn for a ‘regime change’ in the US.   We were, after all, the people we had been waiting for.   But in the ‘rush to victory’ we never really got to know the president.  not in the same way we knew, say, Hillary.

We’ve known Hillary, her husband, her daughter, her history, her religion, her schooling, her scandals, alleged or otherwise, the rumors, for better or for ill — we know Hillary.

And we knew John McCain’s life since Vietnam, Albert Gore’s roommate at Harvard, GBW’s stint as a cheerleader at Andover, John Kerry testifying before congress in ’69,  Bush pere , and Bush pere’s pere, Ronald Reagan since Bedtime for Bonzo, and so on. All of the above have decades of public service and have (or had) been vetted every which way possible, and then some.

An exception, of course, was Jimmy Carter, the peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia (and nuclear engineer) — as he first introduced himself to the nation.  Carter was elected to office at least partly as an antidote to what had transpired before him (Watergate), and was thought to be part of a national cleansing, a fresh start, a break with a troubled past.  And, like Obama, was relatively new to the political scene, and lightly vetted, when elected to the presidency.

In Barack Obama’s case he is more than a self-made man; Obama is a self-defined man.   In this he is not unlike John F. Kennedy with the legend of PT-109 and his Pulitzer-prize best-seller, Profiles in Courage, which was, perhaps, ghost-written.  Though JFK was a relative newcomer to the national scene, the stories of Joe Kennedy as a ‘rum-runner’ during Prohibition and his maternal grandfather ‘Honey Fitz’ Fitzgerald, the storied Boston politician, were circulating for decades before JFK stood for the presidency.

As a self-defined man, much of the traditional vetting provided by the media was compressed into a number of months, and much of that was taken directly from his autobiographies, Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope. And so we are back to the self-defined man, to a large extent, vetting himself.

And so it is none too surprising that many of the buzzwords surrounding the Midterms are about Obama as a man, a person, a personality.

Comparing data from just before the 2008 general election, we see much the same patterns as today.  Citations about Obama’s religion, his supposed ‘aloofness,’ and even his smoking were much higher than what we had seen for other candidates (Bush, Kerry, Gore, etc.) in the previous two election cycles.

What we are seeing in the data appears to be a continuation of the process that ordinarily would have been ongoing  for a decade or more.  So the public vetting of the president continues on the Internet, in the Blogs, throughout Social Media, and in the print and electronic media, itself.

- Paul JJ Payack



Politics Now Driven by Competing Narratives

Clarence Page’s (Chicago Tribune, contributor to PBS News Hour, etc.)  take on this new phenomenon.

GLM Comment:  The Global Language Monitor has been tracking political buzzwords since 2003.  See

our latest news on Political Narratives at our NarrativeTracker pages.

With less than two months to go until the November midterm elections, a clear winner is beginning to emerge in the race to declare the year’s biggest political buzzword.

Hey, buzzwords matter. Who could forget — no matter how much we might like to – such hits from years past as “chad,” “Swift Boat” and “lipstick” as it might be smeared on a pig or a pitbull?

On Tuesday, the website Global Language Monitor, based in Austin, which has been monitoring words on thousands of news, blogs and social network sites since 2003, announced the No. 1 political buzzword so far this year – beating out “climate change,” “Obama Muslim,” “lower taxes” and even “tea partiers” – is (drum roll please) “the narrative.”

The Narrative? “It’s been running strong since last spring,” GLM President Paul J.J. Payack told me in a telephone interview.

That confirmed my suspicion. I don’t even have a computerized algorithm like Payack does, but I, too, had begun to notice in my fanatical surfing of political media that the word “narrative” was popping up with increasing frequency.

For example, Steve and Cokie Roberts observed in a recent column, “For a growing number of Americans, President Barack Obama’s narrative no longer defines who he is.”

Columnist Maureen Dowd similarly wondered back in June how such a gifted storyteller as Obama could “lose control of his own narrative.”

E.J. Dionne, writing in The New Republic, notes Obama has decided to “confront a deeply embedded media narrative that sees a Republican triumph as all but inevitable.”

In fact, “narrative” was popping up so much in reference to Obama as he grappled with crises like the Gulf oil spill that a Washington Post reporter was inspired to lead one feature with, “Sing to me of the Obama narrative, Muse.”  [Read More.]



Obama Turns Page on His Winning Rhetorical Style — and the Iraq War

Analysis of Obama’s ‘Turn the Page’ Oval Office address

AUSTIN, TX, September 7, 2010 – President Barack Obama, in his second Oval Office address announced the “American combat mission in Iraq has ended [and] Operation Iraqi Freedom is over”.    The seventeen-minute long speech, Obama acknowledged President George W. Bush, but neither thanked him for his role as former Commander-in-Chief nor credited him with the ‘Surge,’ other than as a reference to the current operations in Afghanistan.  The Surge, the change in military tactics during the height of the conflict, is widely credited with changing the course of the war.  The analysis was performed by the Global Language Monitor.  GLM has been analyzing presidential speeches since the turn of the century.

Not surprisingly, the President’s tone was sober, direct, and matter of fact, even workmanlike.  There were small rhetorical flourishes, such as referring to “our troops are the steel in our ship of state”.  He clearly proclaimed his devotion and admiration for the troops at the same time distancing himself from the war, its causes and execution. His emphasis was on ‘Turning the page’.

His address contained about half the number of passive constructions (7% vs. 13%) as his previous Oval Office address in June.  His sentences were some 5% shorter while the length of his paragraphs increased some 20%, which allowed him to more fully express his thinking.

When compared to other presidents’ addresses over the last several decades, this speech compared most closely from a ‘hearability’ or ‘readability’ point of view to President Reagan’s “Tear Down this Wall” speech;  however, rhetorically this was not the case.

As for grade-level (using the standard Flesch-Kincaid metrics), this speech was on with Obama’s more recent efforts (between ninth and tenth grades).  As noted previously, Obama has moved away from the rhetorical style of his most widely praised oratorical efforts, the ‘Yes We Can’ victory speech in Grant Park and his 2004 Democratic Convention effort in Boston).  (The actual numbers are 9.5 and 7.4 and 8.3 respectively.)  In doing so, he seems to have abandoned his earlier formula that resulted in the direct emotional impact of his campaign oratory.

[Note:  this article clocked in at a 12.3 grade reading level.]

In May 2003, President Bush gave his now infamous ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech declaring an ‘End To Major Combat In Iraq’.  However, during the speech, he never actually uttered ‘Mission Accomplished’.  Those words were on the ship returning to the San Diego Naval Base, as is the tradition, from overseas duty.   Fortunately for President Obama, his backdrop was the Oval Office and pictures of his wife and family.



Not a Recession but a Global Economic Restructuring …

Summary:  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.  (This article, which appeared in a slightly differing form earlier this year, is written by Paul JJ Payack and Edward ML Peters.)

Austin, Texas, September 7, 2010 — Originally alluded to as a ‘Financial Tsunami’ or ‘Financial Meltdown,’ the major global media continue to call our current economic condition  ‘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’.

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 of the past — but rather a crisis of another sort.

In On War, one of the most influential books on military strategy of all time, the Prussian career soldier Carl von Clausewitz (1780 – 1831) stated 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’ and by other rules than those of the political and financial norm of the recent past.

We believe that the reason the “Great Recession” label doesn’t fit now 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’ and by other rules than those of the political and financial norm of the recent past.

This fact is entrapping two US presidents, from radically diverging political viewpoints, in the same dilemma:  describing an economic phenomenon, that doesn’t play by the old rules.  Therefore the difficulty experienced by President Bush as he struggled to describe how the US 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 US economy is emerging 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 you carefully disassemble the events of the last decade or two, one 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 good 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 understand, or even explain, 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 realities 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 is 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 watch helplessly as the new global reality and re-alignments unfold.

In conclusion, it can be argued that the difficulty in naming the current economic crisis is the fact that is not an economic crisis at all but rather a transformational event involving the global transfer of wealth, power and influence, the destruction of entire industries along with the associated collateral (or human) damage.

[Read More.]



Evacuee, Apocalypse & Hiroshima: Katrina Continues to Impact Language

Katrina Continues to Impact Language, Media and Politics

 

AUSTIN, Texas.   (August 30, 2010) – Katrina had a deep and lasting impact on how America looks at catastrophes and crises in the early 21st century.  And Katrina’s influence is becoming all the more pervasive as the effects of the crisis linger and the reality of the magnitude of the destruction continues to come to light.  An exclusive analysis by the Global Language Monitor (GLM) using it analytical resources, underscores how some five years after the event, Katrina continues to have an out-sized impact on our cultural landscape.  Last year, GLM ranked the Top Stories in the Global Media during the first decade of the 21st century.  Katrina ranked No. 8.

Background:  It is often said that the war in Viet Nam was the first war to be broadcast directly into American living rooms (back when people still gathered for dinner together and watched network news broadcasts).  We watched in horror at the mass destruction of the Towers falling a quarter of a century later, many of us on our computer screens.  But it was the unfolding of the inundation of New Orleans after the levees gave way that provided us with any number of up-close-and personal tragedies that would unfold (and float) before our disbelieving eyes.

Among the most prominent example of Katrina’s continuing cultural impact include:

  1. Refugee vs. Evacuee – At the time GLM’s analysis found that the term for the displaced, refugees, appeared 5 times more frequently in the global media than the more neutral, evacuees.  At the term, refugee was cited as racially insensitive.  Never endorsed by the AP Stylebook, currently the word refugee is used in the media some fifty times more than evacuee.
  2. “Heckova job, Brownie!” – GLM named this paraphrase of President Bush’s actual remark, “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job” as the most memorable phrase of 2005.  The phrase, according to a Reuter’s report at the time, “became a national punch line for countless jokes and pointed comments about the administration’s handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster”.  Even now variations of the phrase are used to criticize less-than-stellar efforts, such as when New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote, “Heck of a job, Barry” (her nickname for President Obama) in her Dec. 29th, 2009 column.
  3. Apocalyptic Imagery — The Southeast Asia Tsunami that killed over 200,000 people occurred nine months before Katrina, so audiences were somewhat familiar with horrific images of exotic locales as scenes of mass destruction.  However, the thought of the devastation unfolding in a major, revered US city, with the world watching the only remaining superpower, apparently unable to mobilize the necessary resources to stop the ongoing destruction and loss of life proved more than the press could handle.  Immediately, the global press echoed with apocalyptic imagery.  The Times in London led with: “Devastation that could send an area the size of England back to the Stone Age” and continued describing “a paranoid post-apocalyptic landscape … where corpses lie amid a scene of Biblical devastation, any semblance of modern society has gone.”
  4. The Hiroshima Analogy – Katrina hit landfall shortly after the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.   AP cited Mississippi governor Haley Barbour “Struggling with what he calls Hurricane Katrina’s nuclear destruction … [showing] the emotional strain of leading a state through a disaster of biblical proportions”.  However, the analogy continues to be used in light of the lingering effects of a drawn-out and, some would argue, less-than-successful recovery effort.  There are still 55,000 uninhabitable buildings half of which the new mayor has pledged to remove by 2014; many still lack essential services; the levees remain in questionable condition, and most importantly, some 20-to-25% of the population has failed to return.

5.  Storm and Scientific Terminology — The public has a much better understanding of the specific terminology surrounding hurricanes and tropical storms.  This would include:

  • Saffir-Simpson Scale, which predicts the destructive power of a hurricane,
  • Category or Hurricane Scale that measures the strength of a hurricane’s strength, from low to high (1 to 5).  Katrina peaked at Category 5 but at landfall fell to Category 3.
  • Storm Surge, the wall of water pushed in from of a hurricane.  Katrina’s was about 30 feet, the highest on record.
  • Levee, the massive, supposedly impermeable earthen walls, meant to hold back storm surges.  New Orleans has some 350 miles of levees.  An unfortunate fact about levees, once they let water in, they can actually prevent it from going out.
  • Naming System for Hurricanes, which has been in place for some fifty years.   They names are alphabetically sorted, alternating men’s and women’s names. The list was exclusively female until 1979. Names are recycled every 6 years. Influential hurricanes have their names retired.  Katrina was obviously retired.

6.  The name Katrina, according to the Social Security Administration, has fallen sharply in popularity.  In 2004 Katrina was the 274th most popular names for girls born in the US; in 2009 it ranked at 815.

For historical coverage of Hurricane Katrina from the Global Language Monitor, go here.



Healthcare NarrativeTracker Detects Growing Concern about Containing Costs

Keeping Costs Low vs. Rising Costs

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DALLAS & AUSTIN, Texas, July 7, 2010The Healthcare NarrativeTracker™ has detected a growing wave of concern throughout the nation about containing rising Healthcare costs. The catalyst stems from the new regulations being now written to implement The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. At this point the affordability issue is coalescing around the President Obama’s oft-stated pledge that you can keep current Health Insurance plans if you so choose.  As M.I.T. health economist Jonathan Gruber recently stated, “It’s unclear that companies will want to have the same insurance plan in 2014 that they have in 2010.”

These facts have not gone unnoticed by the public and are considered by many to be a significant turnaround from earlier analyses, where people took at face value the President’s oft-stated words: “If you like your healthcare plan, you’ll be able to keep your healthcare plan, period.” Obama declared in a speech to the American Medical Association last June, “No one will take it away, no matter what.” In fact, the New York Times recently reported that the government calculates that while 70 percent of small-business plans will remain grandfathered in 2011 that number will drop to 34 percent in 2013. Apparently, even the routine changes that occur every year as employers search for better products can be defined as changing the plan enough to obviate the provision that allows you to keep your current insurance, potentially leading to increasing costs for employer and employee alike.

Subsequent analysis of the Internet, blogosphere, the print and electronic media, as well as new social media sources (such as Twitter) has shown that the public is aware of this shift. The results of the Healthcare NarrativeTracker Index™ (NTI™) were reported by OpenConnect, the leading company in event-driven intelligence solutions, and The Global Language Monitor, the media analytics company.

“Policies need to be evaluated by the effect they will have on the cost incurred with their implementation. The economics of healthcare reform need to be based on changes that help pay for themselves rather than make the problem worse. Only by realizing the type of efficiencies that have kept America in the forefront of world economic growth for the past century and a half will we be able to keep costs under current projections. All that is necessary is to summon the courage to make the tough choices ahead,” said Edward M.L. Peters, CEO of OpenConnect and author of The Paid-for Option, which details the methodology that has proven effective in the healthcare industry.

The Healthcare NarrativeTracker has detected rising concern about price increases perceived to be associated with the implementation of yet-to-be written regulations. The public is well-aware of the overall trillion dollar cost of the program, as well as associated costs, such as the so-called ‘Doc Fix’ not directly counted with the Healthcare Reform effort budget.

In the first three months of this year, conversations about keeping the price of insurance low were exceeded by conversations with those concerned about the rising costs of their healthcare by some 40%.

In the same manner, in the first three months of this year, conversations about keeping one’s insurance were surpassed by those about losing their insurance by some 54%. For the first six months of this year, the conversations about keeping one’s insurance were surpassed by those about losing their insurance by some 43% but with volume of the conversations increasing over 11,200%.

In summation, the media discussion resonating throughout the Internet, blogosphere and social media is driving the online discussion and conversations. This is particularly true when such narratives are being driven by articles such as those written by Dr. Marc Siegel who concludes, “the regulations impose a major vise on private insurance, restricting a company’s ability to increase cost sharing (such as coinsurance, deductibles and out-of pocket limits) as well as copayments (“more than the sum of medical inflation plus 15 percentage points or $5 increased by medical inflation”). So it is unlikely that many insurers will be able to remain viable without raising premiums (not restricted by the regulations) or slashing services.”

The NarrativeTracker Index is the first product specifically designed to use social media-based monitoring to better understand the issues driving healthcare reform. Because the Healthcare NTI is based on the national discourse, it provides a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic related to healthcare, at any point in time. 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 opinions surrounding a single issue.

The NTI is based on the GLM’s Predictive Quantities Indicator™ (PQI™). The PQI tracks the frequency of words and phrases in global print and electronic media on the Internet, throughout the Blogosphere and other social media outlets as well as accessing proprietary databases. The PQI is a weighted index that factors in long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum, and velocity.

The Healthcare NTI is released monthly. The first analysis completed in May 2010 details the various narratives surrounding Massachusetts Healthcare reform, a healthcare model which has been adopted in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as the national healthcare reform bill.



The Internet’s Fury Scorned

Obama Oval Office speech analysis provokes unprecedented response


Austin, Texas, July 2, 2010.  The first decade of the 21st century has witnessed a great many terrible, sad and historical events, with a few, unfortunately fleeting moments of great joy sprinkled between the dirges.  We have done our best to analyze the impact of these events on the global print and electronic media as well as on the Internet, throughout the blogosphere, and now the emerging social media.

After analyzing political speeches for a decade now, as well as all 55 Presidential Inaugural Addresses and transcripts of historical interest (including Washington’s Farewell Address, the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, FDR’s ‘Live in Infamy’ radio address, Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a Dream’ speech) you would think that we had seen and heard everything by now.

However, it wasn’t until our analysis of the President’s Gulf Spill Oval Office address, that we experienced the full force of the Internet’s fury scorned.

And this for an analysis that we considered basically non-newsworthy.

President Obama had given yet another address to the nation.  GLM used the same standardized, widely available, language tools that we used to name Obama’s Grant Park  ”Yes, we can!” victory address as one that ranked with the greatest of presidential orations.  Now these same standardized, time-tested tools are being conveniently criticized as of questionable repute.

We were told that our analysis was either ‘bashing Obama’ or ‘excusing Obama’. At the same time, we were either ‘insulting the people’ or ‘insulting the President’. Finally, it was suggested that we were rather transparently calling for the President to ‘dumb down the rhetoric’ so that one and all might understand  the superior intelligence of ‘his highness’.  Whoa!

Apparently, many readers never got over the headline, missing the actual analysis and what the numbers told us about the speech. Our concern was that our initial headline, Obama Oil Spill Speech Echoes Elite, Aloof Ethos might be considered demeaning to the President.  Wrong.  It was considered demeaning to everyone on the Left and the Right.

For general information on the readability tests used by GLM, click here.

For scientific literature about readability tests, enter Flesch or readability into the ERIC database.

We were surprised to learn that offense was, apparently,  taken in equal proportions by both the Right (Language Expert: If You Didn’t Like Obama’s Oil Spill Speech, It’s Probably Because You’re Stupid) and the Left (Obama Oil Spill Speech Criticized By CNN’s Language Analyst For Not Being Moronic Enough) of the political spectrum.   Nevertheless, we were quite amused by The ColbertReport’s send-up of our (and CNN’s) report, which somehow struck a middle chord.

It was also enlightening to see a significant proportion of this criticism to be ad hominem attacks, focusing on ourselves rather than our analysis.  (Read FAQ about GLM and Paul JJ Payack here.)

This past December, we encountered fierce criticism from the Chinese government dailies because  we named ‘The Rise of China” as the No. 1 news story of the decade.  (You can follow the narrative arc of this controversy here. )  But the criticism that accompanied the Obama Gulf Spill speech, was a good bit nastier, indeed.

Our analyses of the three preceding US Presidential elections were praised from many quarters from the New York Times to Nicholas Kristof to NPR to the worldwide media.  During the preceding ten years, few alleged political motivation, or denounced the standard language-measurement tools as inherently flawed. In fact, as long as readers basically agreed with the more predictable outcomes, there were few complaints.  Here were some of those results:  Ross Perot scored the lowest we’ve ever recorded, John F, Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were stars, both Bushes settled in the middle of the middle school years, and Obama’s ‘Yes, we can!’ speech had nearly equivalent numbers to Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream’ speech and Lincoln’s ‘Gettysburg Address’.   So far, so good.  We did have a few outliers, such as Sarah Palin achieving quite a high score during her debate with Joe Biden, which was duly noted by New York Magazine and quite easy to explain.

Here’s what we attempted to communicate:

1.  Obama’s speech, though deserving a ‘solid B’ did not live up to his past efforts.

2.  Obama’s most well-regarded speech came in a at 7.4 grade level.  This is not talking down to the American people.  This is communicating clear and concisely to his audience.  This is Obama at his best, communicating with a deft combination of vision, passion and rhetoric.

In fact, our headline for that effort read: Obama’s “Yes, We Can” Speech Ranked with “I have a Dream,” “Tear Down this Wall,” and JFK Inaugural. Rather high praise, indeed.

Our commentary read:

Obama’s “Yes, We Can” speech delivered Tuesday night in Chicago’s Grant Park ranked favorably in tone, tenor and rhetorical flourishes with memorable political addresses of the recent past including Martin Luther King, Jr.’s   “I have a Dream” speech, “Tear Down this Wall,” by Ronald  Reagan and John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address.

“As is appropriate for a forward-looking message of hope and reconciliation, words of change and hope, as well as future-related constructions dominated the address,” said Paul JJ Payack President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor.  “Evidently, Obama is at his best at connecting with people at the 7th to 8th grade range, communicating directly to his audience using simple yet powerful rhetorical devices, such as the repetition of the cadenced phrase ‘Yes, we can’, which built to a powerful conclusion.”

Well-regarded, indeed (and well-deserved).

3.   GLM and our predecessor site, yourDictionary.com have analyzed every presidential inaugural since that of George Washington.  The idea was, and continues to be, to look at the presidents’ words in the total historical context of the American presidency.

In 2001, we were quoted as saying,

Our goal was to spot trends that are all to easily overlooked in the political (and all too partisan) passions of the moment” [and continued that our] analysis included patterns of word usage choices, the use of such grammatical constructions as passive voice, the length of words and sentences, the number of paragraphs, and other parameters of language to gauge the content [including] the well-regarded Flesch-Kincaid Reading Scale.

4.  The use of Industry-standard language analytics.  The Fogg Index, the Flesch Test, the Flesch-Kinkaid Reading Scale, and many others, are used in all forms of publishing from technical manuals to ensuring proper comprehension levels for textbooks used for various ages and classes.  This has been true for more than fifty years.

The reason we choose to use the standard tests and analytical tools was a simple one:  to enable the same set of measurements over any period of time.  And also that these analyses could be replicated by scholars and historians and journalists the world over.

5.  We use our proprietary tool, the Predictive Quantities Indicator or PQI to measure media analytics, narrative tracking, and TrendTopper Media Buzz, as such we do not use the PQI for this task.

By the Way, here are a few historical precedents;

  • Washington’s Farewell Address of 1796 — 12.0.
  • Lincoln-Douglas debates, 1858 — Stephen Douglas’ seven speeches averaged a 12th-grade level 11.9; Lincoln’s averaged 11.2.
  • President Franklin Roosevelt’s declaration of war in December 1941 — 11.5.
  • Nixon-Kennedy Debates, 1960 — The first nationally televised debates:  Kennedy, 9.6 ; Nixon, 9.1.
  • Carter-Ford Debates, 1976 — Carter, 10.4; Ford, 11.0.
  • Carter-Reagan debate  – Carter, 12.0; Reagan, 10.7.
  • Reagan-Mondale debates — Reagan, 9.8;  Mondale, 8.7.
  • Dukakis-Bush debates of 1988 — Dukakis, 8.9; Bush, 6.7 grade.
  • Bush-Clinton-Perot debates of 1992 — Carter, 8.5, Bush, 6.5, Perot, 6.3.
  • Bush-Gore debate of 2000 — Bush, 7.1, Gore, 8.4.
  • Cheney-Lieberman, V.P. Debate — Lieberman, 9.9; Dick Cheney, 9.1.

And for good measure, Hamlet’s ‘To Be or Not to Be Soliloquy’, Shakespeare, c. 1600, comes in at 10.6.

Now Kathleen Parker has considerably upped the ante when applied readability statistics in her premise about Barack Obama as the first ‘feminine president’ ….



New York Magazine: Textbook Obama

Flash from the Past ( September 21, 2009) by Paul Bonanos

Which predecessor does his rhetoric most nearly echo? The data don’t lie: It’s Ronald Reagan.


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On Tuesday, President Obama spoke to schoolchildren; on Wednesday, to Congress. The easy punch line (same grade level, guys?) raises a real question: How does this president, whose comments on health care in particular had been criticized for lacking a clear take-home message, pitch his language? Does he strategically streamline his explanations for different audiences? To find out, we called upon science, in the form of Paul J. J. Payack, “president and chief word analyst” at an Austin, Texas, trend-watching outfit called the Global Language Monitor.

What Payack found when Obama’s speeches bubbled through his software was that the president didn’t treat Congress like a bunch of kids. His health-care speech clocks in at 9.0, indicating a ninth-grade reading level; the classroom speech, at 6.6. Those two figures more or less bookend the range for contemporary oration. Both Presidents Bush tended to fall around grade 7, as did Obama’s “Yes, We Can” speech. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” comes in at 8.8.

There’s plenty of room for sophisticated ideas at that level. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is sixth-grade material. So is The Hobbit. The Gettysburg Address rates a 9.1. That’s low for the nineteenth century, when florid oratory was in vogue—the Lincoln-Douglas debates took place at an eleventh-grade level, rarely heard today. “You can imagine how they’d talk—three, four hours long,” Payack says. “It really changed with the advent of radio.”

Nor is ninth-grade language too tough for a mainstream audience. Payack says that Ronald Reagan, the master of folksy explanation, is Obama’s closest match among recent presidents, with speeches that usually come in around 9 or 10. “The word was that he spoke in sound bites, but they’re very well-crafted sound bites.” The two presidents may differ in affect, content, and approach—Obama sometimes seems to develop his ideas through the very process of turning them into oratory, whereas Reagan more or less only had one idea—but not in linguistic complexity. Indeed, Obama has often expressed admiration for the Gipper’s ability to frame issues.

Payack explains that his proprietary algorithm is a variant of the standard Flesch Reading Ease Test, which is performed on many textbooks and educational materials: “It analyzes words per sentence, syllables per word, things of that nature. The theory is that the more complex the structure, the more syllables per word, the more difficult it is to understand.” Polysyllabicism and subclauses add complexity, and skew the score toward older readers. “To reach the greatest number of people, to communicate most crisply, to make sure your idea moves from your mind to someone else’s, you should speak in short sentences.” (Representative Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” achieves a prekindergarten rating.) For comparison, a Maureen Dowd column from last week was a 10.8, a Paul Krugman piece was a 12.5, and the story you’re reading now has a Flesch score of ninth grade.

Read More

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Obama Oil Spill Speech Echoes Elite, Aloof Ethos

When Obama is at his best (such as the Grant Park ‘Yes, We Can speech), the President has a direct and emotional connection with the American people.  This speech, simply, did not live up to that high standard — and the numbers reflect it.

Comparisons with previous addresses and those of other presidents

Passive Voice highest for any major presidential address this century

Surprisingly high tenth-grade reading (and hearing) level


 

Austin, TX, June 17, 2010 – According to an exclusive analysis by The Global Language Monitor, President Obama’s Oil Spill speech echoed his elite ethos, with a broad plan for an alternative-energy future and few specifics.  The only specifics of the address were the continuation of the off-shore drilling ban, effectively putting tens of thousands of Gulf Coast jobs in jeopardy.  The President’s first Oval Office address came in at a surprising high tenth-grade reading level, with some 13% passive constructions, the highest level measured in any major presidential address in this century.  In political speaking, the passive voice is generally used to either deflect responsibility, or to have no particular ‘doer’ of an action

GLM on Obama’s ‘Yes, We Can!’ victory speech: Ranked Among the Greatest


See “The Colbert Report’s”  Send-up of GLM’s Oval Office Analysis

A previous analysis using GLM’s NarrativeTracker™, found the president’s primary narrative arc to be that of ‘Obama as an Oil Spill Enabler’.  Nothing in the address would appear to change that narrative, though formal analysis will be forthcoming in the next week.

Kathleen Parker’s ‘Empiracally Vacuous Meme-replication’

Alternet’s Dumbing Down of Obama’s speech to the seventh-grade level.

The Readability Analysis of the Oval Office address appears below:

  • Passive Voice — With some 13% passive constructions, the highest level measured in any major presidential address this century.  In political speaking, the passive voice is generally used to either deflect responsibility, or to have no particular ‘doer’ of an action, at least when speaking about himself or his Administration.  Otherwise, BP was the clear ‘doer’.
  • Sentence Length — Obama’s spoke in long, though well-crafted, sentences about 20 words in length.
  • Sentences per Paragraphs – Just below four sentences per paragraph.  Usually four sentences in a paragraph would be quite easy to understand, but the 19.8 words per sentence, added some difficulty for his target audience.
  • Characters per words – Obama’s words had an average of 4.5 letters in them, a bit longer than typical for him.
  • Flesch Reading Ease – Reading Ease came in at 59.1. The Closer to 100, the easier to read.  This is well within the normal range for Oval Office Addresses.
  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade-Level – 9.8 Grade Level.  This is the highest of any major Obama speech.  Obama’s closest match among recent presidents is Ronald Reagan, whose speeches generally ranged from the 9th to 10th grade levels.  (President George W. Bush usually spoke at a seventh grade level.)

Grade-Level comparisons with other speeches of note include:

Kennedy Inaugural Address       10.8

Reagan ‘Tear Down This Wall”   9.8

Lincoln “Gettysburg Address”     9.1

Martin Luther King: ”I have a dream”   8.8

Obama 2004 Democrat Convention      8.3

Obama Victory Speech “Yes, we can”   7.4

“The scores indicate that this was not Obama at his best, especially when attempting make an emotional connection to the American people,” said Paul JJ Payack, president of GLM.  “For example, the numbers are significantly different than the ‘Yes, I can” speech, which many consider his best effort.”

Read More:

How Obama lost control of the oil-spill narrative (Colleen Ross, CBC)

Keep Presidential Speeches Smart (Trevor Butterworth, Forbes)

Textbook Obama (New York Magazine by Chris Bonanos)

Obama Narrative 2.0 (GLM)

The President, the Spill and the Narrative that got away (Simon Mann, The Age)

FAQs about GLM, Paul JJ Payack, and the Million Word March



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