The Narrative: Top Political Buzzword for 2010 Midterm Elections

Austin, Texas, April 5, 2010 — “The Narrative’ is the Top Political Buzzword for the upcoming election cycle, according to a global Internet and media analysis by Austin-based Global Language Monitor.  GLM has been monitoring political buzzwords since 2003.


Read about The Narrative in Congressional Quarterly’s Political Wire.

“The Narrative” is now appearing thousands of times in the global media on the Internet and blogosphere as well as throughout the world of social media.  The current ‘sense’ of the ancient phrase is being used as the main stream of public opinion running in the media that needs to be fed, encouraged, diverted or influenced by any means possible.

Current examples include:

  • “Barack Obama, US president, has lost control of the political narrative …” Financial Times, Feb 15.
  • “The Start of a New Obama Narrative” (Huffington Post, March 26)
  • “The Obama White House has lost the narrative in the way that the Obama campaign never did” (New York Times, March 6)
  • “Ok. Has the narrative changed because of the health care success? (Washington Post, March 26)
  • “The only thing that changes is the narrative.” (CNN, March 23)

“The rise of the ‘The Narrative’ actually renders actual positions on the issues almost meaningless, since the positions now matter less than what they seem to mean.” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM. “The goal of political campaigns now is to spin a storyline that most ‘resonates’ with the electorate, or segments thereof”.

Read the discussion generated by MinnPost’s Eric Black

The word ‘narrative’ comes to us from the 16th century and traditionally means something told in the form of a story.  It is ultimately from the Latin, narrativus, meaning something told, related or revealed (as in a story).  One of the best-known examples is The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas.

The Global Language Monitor has been tracking political buzzwords since the turn of the century.

  • Top Political Buzzword of the 2000 Presidential Election was ‘Chad’.
  • Top Political Buzzword of the 2004 Presidential Election was ‘Incivil’ as in the InCivil War, alluding to the vicious war of words between the Kerry and Bush (43) camps.
  • Top Political Buzzword of the 2008 Presidential Election was ‘Change’.

More recently, GLM has tracked the following about political buzzwords in the media:

To track political buzzwords, Global Language Monitor uses the Predictive Quantities Index, a proprietary algorithm that tracks words and phrases in print and electronic media, on the Internet and throughout the blogosphere, now including social media. The words and phrases are tracked in relation to their frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets.


Most Confusing High Tech Buzzwords of 2000-2009

Austin, Texas, March 17, 2010 — In conjunction with the SXSW Interactive conference held in its hometown, The Global Language Monitor has released the most confusing high tech buzzwords of the decade (2000-2009). Topping the list are HTTP, Flash, God Particle, Cloud Computing, and Plasma (as in plasma TV). Rounding out the Top Ten were IPOD/IPAD, Megapixel, Nano, Resonate and Virtualization.

The most confusing Acronym for the decade was SOA (Service Oriented Architecture).

“SXSW has long been a harbinger for future directions in popular culture and now the gathering has taken on the added dimension of technological innovation,” said Paul JJ Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor, “The words we use in high technology continue to become even more obtuse even as they move out of the realm of jargon and into the language at large.”

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.

The Most Confusing High Tech Buzzwords of the decade (2000-2009) 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.

21. Versioning – Creating new revisions (or versions) with fewer bugs and more features.

22. VoIP – Voice Over IP, itself shorthand for Voice over Internet Protocol, which in plain English means the ability to talk on the phone over the Internet.

23. Web 2.0 – Now there’s talk of Web 3.0, just when we were finally getting used to the advances web services called Web 2.0.

24. Word Clouds – Graphic representations of the words used in a text, the more frequently used, the larger the representation.

25. WORM — Not only not a computer virus anymore, let alone a slithery creature of the soil, but “a Write Once, Read Many file system used for optical disk technology

Most Confusing High Tech Acronym of the Decade

SOA – Service Oriented Architecture. Far-and-away No. 1. If it’s so easy to understand, why are hundreds of books written trying to explain exactly what it is.

Early Candidate for Most Confusing High Tech Buzzword of the 2nd Decade of the Century (Possibly a very short decade, Indeed.)

B’ak’tuns – According to the Long-Count Mayan Calendar (high tech for the late A.D.600’s) the end of a ‘Great Cycle’ of thirteen b’ak’tuns (periods of 144,000 days each) since the Mayan creation date of August 11, 3114 BC. According to popular belief, December 21st, 2012 will be the End of the World.


Research

GLM in Recent Scholarship:  A Selection

The Global Language Monitor is used as a reference source for academic institutions the world over. Currently there are +800 books, research journals, and academic papers that cite GLM’s analysis, numbers, and original research.

Here is a small selection.

GLM impacts the World

Excerpt from:Understanding China, at the English Speaker’s Union
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” Today, I have entitled my speech as Understanding China.  According to Global Language Monitor, an American research body following the global media reporting, on its list of the Top News Stories of the Decade, the rise of China came as the first, even well ahead of 9/11 and the war in Iraq.  But I think 2009 will probably be remembered in our history, as China’s transition into playing a major role in the world.
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Here in London, I could clearly sense China’s emergence onto the world stage.  During the G20 London Summit, the close cooperation between China, US, UK and other countries shows that China has come to the centre stage of addressing global issues.
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– Fu Ying, Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom at the English Speakers Union 12/10/09

Excerpt from:On Equal Terms: Redefining China’s Relationship with America and the West (Wiley)

“Hardly a day passes without a story about China in the pages of the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, or International Herald Tribune echoing statements made by Paul JJ Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor.  His publication boldly reported in 2009 that the rise of China was by far the most widely read story of the past decade — and that period included 9/11, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the global financial crisis.  “The rise of China to new economic heights has changed — and continues to challenge– the current international order,”  Payack proclaimed.  It is with little surprise that its ongoing transformation has topped all news stories in a decade bespotted by war, economic catastrophe, and natural disasters.”– By Mingxun Zheng

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How Lenovo deploys powerful creative sponsorship activation techniques for a global brand.
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Analysis of Formation of ObamaSpeak and its Cultural Connotation

SU Yu (College of Foreign Studies,Nanjing Agricultural University,Nanjing 210095,China)Words and phrases,the most sensitive elements in language,are always influenced by the politics,the economy as well as the social culture.According to the Global Language Monitor,the latest word to enter the English language is ‘Obama’ in its many variations.Obama is used as a ‘root’ for an ever-expanding number of words.This article tries to analyze the formation of ObamaSpeak and its cultural connotation..
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On Exploring Obamaspeak
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The vocabulary of any language or even tens of thousands up to millions, but the number of word formation has a very limited way and the basic line of succession. With the development of society and the emerging new things, new words will appear endless. According to the Global Language Monitor, which published Obama vocabulary is rapidly entering the English language, this new word as an example to Obama overall interpretation derived, composite, and blending techniques such as word formation.
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Author: Dingli Fu Zhao Zhengguo DING Li-fu ZHAO Government-China
Author: Dingli Fu, DING Li-fu (Huainan Normal University Foreign Language Department, Huainan, 232001)
Zhaozheng Guo, ZHAO Zheng-guo (PLA Foreign Languages University English Department, Luoyang, 471003)
Title: SHANGHAI JOURNAL OF TRANSLATORS,  Years, the volume (of): 2009 “” (1)
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Toward a global infrastructure for the sustainability of language resources GF Simons and S Bird,

SIL International and Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics, Proceedings of the 22nd Pacific Asia Conference on Language, Information and Computation
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Arabic script language identification using letter frequency neural networks: Ali Selamat, Choon-Ching Ng, International Journal of Web Information Systems, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 484-500


Speaking genes or genes for speaking? Deciphering the genetics of speech and language, Elena L. Grigorenko, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Volume 50, Issue 1-2, Pages 116-125, Published Online: 5 Jan 2009

Boston College Third World Law Journal

A Domestic Right of Return? Race, Rights and Residency in New Orleans in the Aftermath of   Hurricane Katrina:  Boston College Third World Law Journal, Volume XXVII, Number 2
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Language Variation and Change, M. Hundt, University of Heidelberg

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Berkeley Business Law Journal

Shareholder Proposals: A Catalyst for Climate Change-Related Disclosure EN Rindfleisch,Journal

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The History of English, C. Springs, CourageToRisk.org

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Word Indexing for Mobile Device Data Representations: Computer and Information Technology, 2007. CIT 2007

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The Blame Frame: Justifying (Racial) Injustice in America: Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review


“Noi” e gli “Altri”: verso un futuro di integrazione e di convivenza: Societa Dante Alighieri


Race and Media Coverage of Hurricane Katrina: Analysis, Implications, and Future Research Questions:

Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy


Can God Intervene?: How Religion Explains Natural Disasters


As Seen on TV or Was that My Phone? New Media Literacy, CARMEN LUKE University of Queensland, Australia


Wardhaugh R., An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, fifth Edition Oxford Blackwell Publishers Ltd


Joao Paulo II: Um Atavista Midiation: Osvaldo Meira Triguerio


Communicating Gender Diversity: A Critical Approach by Victoria Pruin Defrancisco, Catherine Helen Palczewski,  Sage Publications


Ambush Marketers Tracked at Vancouver

Verizon, Subway & Pepsi among top Ambush marketers at Vancouver Games

Winter Olympics tracked by the TrendTopper Ambush Index

Canadian companies Roots Canada and Lululemon lead Overall Rankings

Austin, Texas.  February 18, 2010 – Verizon, Subway, and Pepsi are among the top ‘Ambush’ marketers for the opening weekend of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games according to the TrendTopper Ambush Index (TrendTopper AI™) of Austin-based Global Language Monitor. Ambush marketers are companies that attempt to associate themselves with an event even though they are not ‘official’ sponsors of that event.  Of course, it should be noted that alleged ‘ambush’ marketers generally disagree with this designation, insisting that they are simply pursuing marketing ‘best practices’.

Naming and shaming for Olympic ambush marketers (Reuters)

The TrendTopper Ambush Index tracks brand media presence in relation to the Winter Games.  It’s based upon GLM’s Predictive Quantities Index, a proprietary algorithm that tracks words and phrases in print and electronic media, on the Internet and throughout the blogosphere, now including social media. The words and phrases are tracked in relation to their frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets.

For the 2009 – 2012 Olympic Quadrennial, there are nine Global Partners:  Coca-Cola, Acer, GE, McDonalds, Omega, Panasonic, Samsung, Visa, and AT&T.  The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has two additional national partners:  P&G and the Budweiser unit of inBev. The Canadian Olympic committee has a number of local partners, of which five were included:  Deloitte, Tyson Foods, United Airlines, Hilton and Nike.

For this analysis, the alleged Ambush Marketers included:  Verizon, Subway, Pepsi, MasterCard and Adidas in the Global Category. The National Category included Lululemon Athletica, Blenz Coffee, Roots Canada, Scotiabank, and Howe Sound Brewing.    Past sponsors, also,  who continue to enjoy the glow of past Olympic associations, such as: Allstate, Bank of America, Home Depot, and Lenovo were also included in the analysis.

“The TrendTopper MediaBuzz Ambush Index ranks all perceived Olympic sponsors according to their presence in the global media, whether or not they see themselves as such,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of GLM.  “If they are statistically linked to the Vancouver Games, they qualify for the Ambush Index”.

The IOC defines ambush marketing as leveraging the “goodwill of the Olympic/Paralympic Movement by creating a false, unauthorized association with the Olympic/Paralympic Movement.”  Whether the marketer does this intentionally or inadvertently, it allows the marketer to benefit from an association with the Olympic Brand without providing any financial support to them.

The Top Twenty-five marketers as measured by brand media presence in relation to the Winter Games follow.

Rank (1-25), Marketer, and Affiliation

1.   Roots Canada — alleged Ambush Marketer

2.   Proctor & Gamble — USOC

3.   Deloitte — Canadian

4.   Budweiser unit of inBev — USOC

5.   Lululemon — alleged Ambush Marketer

6.   NBC unit of General Electric — IOC

7.   Tyson Foods — Canada

8.    McDonalds — IOC

9.    Polo Ralph Lauren — USOC

10.  Hilton — Canada

11.   Nike — Canada

12.  Verizon — Alleged Ambushed

13.  AT&T — IOC

14.  Subway — Alleged Ambusher

15.  Pepsi — Alleged Ambusher

16.  Coca-Cola — IOC

17.  MasterCard — Alleged Ambusher

18.  Omega — IOC

19.  United Airlines — Canada

20.  Adidas — Alleged Ambusher

21.  General Electric — IOC

22.  Visa — IOC

23.  Panasonic — IOC

24.  Samsung — IOC

25.  Acer — IOC

Over the course of the last several Olympiads (or quadrennials as they are now called), the IOC has significantly tightened the reins on the use of certain words without permission.  For example, the Canadian Parliament has restricted use of some fairly common words in certain combinations without specific permission.

For example, words on Lists 1 and 2 may not be combined.

List 1: Games, 2010, Twenty-ten, 21st, XXIst, 10th, Tenth, Xth, or Medals

List 2: Winter, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Sponsor, Vancouver, or Whistler

In the TrendTopper AI analysis, Marketers are ranked both by category and then overall.  Rankings are calculated, normalized and cross-indexed.

For trend analysis, momentum and velocity calculations, the TrendTopper AI analysis will be run at the halfway point of the Winters Games, with the final tally appearing after the Closing Ceremony.

In addition, a TrendTopper AI ranking of athletes will appear early next week and at the conclusion of the Games.  For more information, call 1.512.815.8836.


TrendTopper Media Buzz

In the rapidly changing communications and media environment of the early 21st century, you cannot rely on telephone surveys, at home interviews, newspaper clippings or television mentions to measure the worth of a brand. Today the methodology must encompass the newest social media services (e.g., Twitter and Facebook), as well as the top million millions blogs, the billions of web pages, as well as the 75,000 top global print and electronic media — as well as proprietary databases.

This enormous sample simply cannot be tampered with because no single, institution has the ability to influence, let alone corrupt, data streaming from hundreds of thousands if not millions of points of origin.

TrendTopper MediaBuzz utilizes a mathematical model that ‘normalizes’ the data and allows GLM to make statistically significant comparisons among the various measurements. The end result is a non-biased analytical tool that will allow you to gauge the relative values differing institutions are assigned by consumers, as well as measures of how that value changes over time.

For more information. please click on one of the following links:

GLM Algorithmic-based Services:

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To learn more about the methodology used in our algorithmic-based Services, call 1.512.815.8836 or email pjjp@post.harvard.edu.


Words: Despair and Fear Drowning Out Hope in Global Media

Comparison of 90-days since Obama election to 9/11 and Start of Iraq War

Austin, TX February 10, 2009 – The Global Language Monitor has found that words of despair and fear relating to the global economic meltdown are drowning out those of hope in the global media in the ninety days since the US presidential election on November 4, 2008.

With thousands of global headlines centering on the deteriorating global economy followed by news of the human toll of people driven to despair and committing acts of desperation, GLM undertook an analysis of the language used in the global print and electronic media since the US presidential election.  GLM then compared their frequency of use to the ninety days following the 9/11 Terrorists attacks on New York and Washington in 2001 and the 90-day period following the outbreak of the Iraq War in 2003.  The representative fear-related words chosen:  Fear, Despair, Abandoned, Desperate/Desperation.

The analysis found that these words were used in the last ninety days with 18-23% more frequency since the historic Obama election than when compared to their use in the ninety days following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 of 2001 and 90-days following the beginning of the Iraq War in March 2003.  The one exception was that of the word fear, itself, though its use in relation to the economic meltdown was still some 85% of its use in the case of 9/11 and the Iraq War.

“The results are striking, especially, in contrast to the immense outpouring of global goodwill in response to the inauguration of Barack Omama, since the survey included the ten days immediately following Obama’s swearing in,” ” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor.

The specific breakdown of the keywords (and related variations) follows:

1. Abandoned — Abandoned appeared some 23% more frequently

2. Despair — Despair appeared some 18% more frequently

3. Desperation – Desperation appeared some 18% more frequently

4. Fear – Fear appeared some 85% of the frequency

Media and Analysts:  Call for Graphics


Is Websters its Own Worst Frenemy?

60% of new words in 2009 Collegiate Dictionary update were born before today’s college students

‘New’ words average age — 29 years!?

Austin, TX July 16, 2009, (MetaNewswire) – Is Merriam-Webster its own worst frenemy? The answer to that question can perhaps be answered by the upcoming release of its Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition with the addition of almost 100 new words and word meanings (or senses).

The ‘new’ words (with their dates of first usage) include:

New Word or Term First Usage

Carbon footprint 1999

Flash mob 1977

Green-collar 1990

Locavore 2005

Memory foam 1987

Missalette 1977

Reggaeton 2002

Sock puppet 1959

Waterboarding 2004

Webisode 1997

These are ‘new’ words only insofar as they were never included in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate, but on average, the words were coined more than 29 years ago (according to M-W’s own definitions). This compares with the average age of today’s college students in the mid-twenties (even with the recent shift to older students).

On the web, ‘waterboarding’ has some 2,000,000 references, ‘webisode’ about 5,000,000 and ‘sock puppet‘ some half million (according to Google). Last year ‘dark energy’ was added to the Collegiate Dictionary some ten years after it had become the subject of much scientific, philiosophical and popular debate. (It had about 10,000,000 references at the time.)

“This is perhaps why students are evermore turning to online resources to understand current affairs and class materials.The reality of today’s Internet-based communications means that new English-language words are appearing and being adopted at an ever-quickening pace,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “It is entirely possible some of these students heard or even used some of these words while they were still in grammar school”.


Is Merriam-Webster its own worst frenemy?

60% of new words in 2009 Collegiate were born before today’s college students

‘New’ words average age — 29 years

Austin, TX July 16, 2009, (MetaNewswire) – Is Merriam-Webster its own worst frenemy? The answer to that question can perhaps be answered by the upcoming release of its Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition with the addition of almost 100 new words and word meanings (or senses).  The average of these “new words” is twenty-nine years, according to Merriam-Webster’s itself.

The ‘new’ words (with their dates of first usage) include:

New Word or Term and First Usage

  • Carbon footprint 1999
  • Flash mob 1977
  • Green-collar 1990
  • Locavore 2005
  • Memory foam 1987
  • Missalette 1977
  • Reggaeton 2002
  • Sock puppet 1959
  • Waterboarding 2004
  • Webisode 1997

These are ‘new’ words only insofar as they were never included in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate, but on average, the words were coined more than 29 years ago (according to M-W’s own definitions). This compares with the average age of today’s college students in the mid-twenties (even with the recent shift to older students).

On the web, ‘waterboarding’ has some 2,000,000 references, ‘webisode’ about 5,000,000 and ‘sock puppet‘ some half million (according to Google). Last year ‘dark energy’ was added to the Collegiate Dictionary some ten years after it had become the subject of much scientific, philiosophical and popular debate. (It had about 10,000,000 references at the time.)

“This is perhaps why students are evermore turning to online resources to understand current affairs and class materials.The reality of today’s Internet-based communications means that new English-language words are appearing and being adopted at an ever-quickening pace,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “It is entirely possible some of these students heard or even used some of these words while they were still in grammar school”.

To celebrate the coming of age of English as the first, true, global language, The Global Language Monitor announced the 1,000,000th word to enter the English language on June 10, 2009. GLM estimates that a new word appears every 98 minutes, generated by the 1.5 billion people who now use English as a first, second or business language.

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How 9/11 Changed the Way We Speak

How 9/11 Changed the Way Americans Speak

Subtle Yet Profound Differences

Austin, Texas, USA. September 11, 2008. (Updated) The Global Language Monitor today released an updated analysis of how the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and the pending targets in Washington, D.C., widely suspected to be the White House or the Capitol Building, have changed the way Americans speak in terms of vernacular, word choice and tone.

Updating an earlier analysis completed on the Fifth Anniversary of the attacks, it a continued and historic change in an ‘unCivil War‘ in terms of the vitriolic exchange currently witnessed on the American Political scene.  According to Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM (www.LanguageMonitor.com), these are a few of the ways where the events of 9/11 have impacted the way Americans speak.

1. 9/11 — The first case is the use of 9/11, itself, as a shorthand for the 2001 terrorist attacks. Using various web metrics, 9/11 outpaces any other name, including the spelled out ‘September 11th” by 7:1 margin. This designation in itself it quite interesting. It is true that Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed the Pearl Harbor attack as “December 7th, 1941 as a day which will live in infamy”. But there were no “12/7″ rallying cries thereafter. Neither were the dates immortalized of the original battles of the Korean War, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident which preceded the major escalation of the Vietnam War, The First Gulf War, The Afganistan siege, or even the recent Iraqi Invasion. Only the 7/7 attacks on the London Subway system are recorded in common memory by their date (and primarily in the UK in general,  and London in particular).

2. Ground Zero — The name Ground Zero evokes a sacred place, where the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers once stood. It is also revered as a burial ground since thousands of bodies literally vaporized in the ensuing collapse with no remains found whatsoever. Almost universally, it is capitalized as any other proper name, with a few exceptions, most notably the New York Times. Even this week, The Times insisted on referring to Ground Zero in the lower case, calling it ‘the area known as ground zero’. (Sic) Names are officially bestowed in a number of ways, most often by bureaucratic committees following arcane sets of rules, answering to few. In this case, we kindly request those bureaucrats to follow the lead of hundreds of millions around the world who have formally bestowed upon that special place, the formal name of Ground Zero.

3. Hero — In mythology, heroes were men and women often of divine ancestry endowed with the gifts of courage and strength. In reality, everyday heroes of the late 20th and early 21st centuries were sports figures (‘Be like Mike’ and ‘Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio’), comic book and cartoon characters ala Superman and Spiderman, and all too frequently ‘anti-heroes’ known for the colossal damage they might inflict upon a helpless (and often hapless) world. Into this tableaux, came the heroes of 9/11, very real men and women, rushing into and up the Towers as everyone else was rushing down and out; rushing the cockpit of Flight 93, with knives and forks and steaming hot coffee, forcing the startled highjackers to abandon their plans of crashing into the Capitol or White House rather than the previously unheralded soil of Swanksville, PA; and the men and women who quietly stood their posts at the Pentagon, just doing their duty, not knowing if they would be subjected to another horrific, and more deadly, attack at any moment. In the post-9/11 world, the term has now come to apply to any who place their lives in danger to foster the public good, especially ‘first-responders’ such as: firefighters, EMTs, and police, who quietly place their lives on the line every day.

4. -stan — The suffix in Persian and related languages that means, literally, ‘land of,’ hence, Afghanistan or Land of the Afghans, or Kurdistan (or Kurdish Territories), or even this relatively new moniker: Londonistan.  Talibanistan, referring to Afganistan and the ‘tribal lands’ in Pakistan in the New York Times Sunday Magazine is the latest instantiation.

5. The unCivil War — Since 9/11 after a very short reprieve, the political discourse of American politics has, arguably, descended to its lowest level since the Civil-War era when Lincoln was typically depicted as a know-nothing, Bible-spouting Baboon. Even speech of the Watergate era was spared the hyperbole commonly heard today, as respect for the institution of the presidency remained high. Today, political opponents are routinely called ‘liars,’ are typically compared to Hitler, Nazis and Fascists; are accused of purposely allowing New Orleans’ inundation in order to destroy disenfranchised elements of our population, and so on. It is very difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of this reaction. It has been suggested that in the face of a nearly invisible, constantly morphing, enemy, we have turned the attack inward, upon ourselves, and our institutions.

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


Summary Coverage of the 2008 Elections

Summary Coverage of the 2008 Elections

Nicholas D. Kristof: Obama and the war on brains

Obama “Yes, We Can” Speech Ranked With “I have a Dream,” “Tear Down this Wall,” and JFK Inaugural
Austin, TX, USA November 7, 2008 – In an analysis completed earlier today, the Global Language Monitor has found that Barak 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 his Wall,” by RonaldReagan and John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address.GLM, has been tracking the language used in the debates and speeches of the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates throughout the bruising 2008 campaign.In nearly every category, from grade level to the use of passive voice, even the average numbers of letters in the words he chose, Obama’s Victory Speech was very similar in construction to the speeches of King, Reagan and Kennedy.
Obama Speech a Winner
“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.”
Obama’s Victory Speech also was similar in construction to his 2004 Democratic Convention address, which first brought him to widespread national attention.
The statistical breakdown follows.
Obama Victory Speech Obama 2004 Convention
Words 2049 2238
Sentences/Paragraph 1.8 2
Words/Sentence 18.9 20.0
Characters/Word 4.2 4.3
Reading Ease 72.4 67.5
Passive 11% 8%
Grade Level 7.4 8.3
For a future-oriented message of hope and vision the passive voice was used frequently but effectively. Examples include:”There will be setbacks and false starts. It was also noted that Obama spoke in the authoritative voice of the future Commander-in-Chief with such phrasings as, “To those who would tear the world down – We will defeat you. Some commentators noticed the absence of the collapse of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in the 2001 terrorist attacks from Obama’s catalogue of significant events of last 106 years. Historical comparisons follow.
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
‘Change’, ‘Cataclysmic Events,’ and ‘Global Financial Tsunami’ Dominate Concerns of the American Electorate on Nov. 4
Austin, TX, USA November 4, 2008 – In an analysis completed just hours before voting began for the 2008 the USPresidential Elections, Austin, Texas-based Global Language Monitor has found that ‘Change’, ‘‘Cataclysmic Events,’ and ‘Global Financial Tsunami’ related words and phrases dominate the Top Ten Concerns of the American Electorate on Nov. 4, 2008.
The results are based on an on-going 18-month analysis of the political language and buzzwords used throughout the presidential since before the primaries began. GLM’s uses its PQI Index, a proprietary algorithm that scours the global print and electronic media, the Internet, and blogosphere for ‘hot’ political buzzwords and then ranks them according to year-over-year change, acceleration and directional momentum.Political buzzwords are terms or phrases that become loaded with emotional freight beyond the normal meaning of the word.
Top Ten Concerns of the American Electorate on November 4, 2008.
1.Change is key.Change favors Obama over McCain 3:2.
2.Cataclysmic events, global warming and climate change rank higher than all other issues except change.
3.The Global Financial Tsunami and related terms permeate the Election and is that persistent low-humming heard in the background.
4.Experience counts.Experience favors McCain over Obama 4:3.
5.Concerns persist about Obama’s experience, background, and past and current associations.
6.Gender is ongoing issue:it began with Hillary and continues with Palin though it is disguised in all sorts of well-meaning platitudes.
7.For many in this campaign, gender actually trumps race.
8.For all the concern about race, it actually seems to be having a positive effect on the Obama campaign, in its an ongoing, just beneath the surface dialogue, with millions (both black and white) voting for Obama precisely BECAUSE he is a black man.This is viewed as separating us (and in some sense liberating us) from a long, painful history.
9.Working Class Whites IS used as a code word for whites who are working class.No other moniker, such as Reagan Democrats or Soccer Moms has caught on in this election cycle.
10. Obama, to his great credit, is no longer perceived as ‘aloof’.
What’s the advantage of the PQI over the Polls?
According to Paul JJ Payack, president and chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor:
The PQI is, perhaps, the ultimate ‘It is what it is’ measurement of consumer (and in this case Political) sentiment.The PQI simply measures the occurrence of certain words or phrases in the print and electronic media (traditional or otherwise), on the Internet, and across the Blogosphere.It is by its very nature non-biased.When we take a statistical snapshot for the PQI there is no adjustment for ‘underrepresented’ groups, there are no assumptions about probability of turnout, the proportions of newly registered voters, traditional models, or expanded modularities.Rather we take our measurements, check for the rate of positive or negative change in the appearance of a searched word or phrase (what we call velocity and) and publish our results. In other words, it is what it is. Using this methodology, GLM was the only media analytics organization that foresaw the ’04 electorate voting with their moral compasses rather than their pocketbooks.”
The Top Political Buzzwords for the 2006 Midterm Elections included: Throes, Quagmire, Credibility, Global Warming, and Insurgency; the Top Political Buzzwords from the 2004 Campaign included: Swift Boats, Flip Flop, Quagmire, Fahrenheit 911, Misleader, and Liar!
Top 10 Things Political Buzzwords Tell Us About the Vote
Austin, TX, USA November 3, 2008 – In an analysis completed just 48 hours before the US Presidential Elections theGlobal Language Monitor has announced the final installment of the Top Political Buzzwords of the 2008 Presidential Campaign.GLM, has been tracking the buzzwords in this election cycle for some eighteen months.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 new context as an Iraq War strategy, it inspires a set of emotions in many people far beyond the norm.
According to Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of Global Language Monitor:
The electorate appears to be more advanced in its thinking than either party (or platform).Taken as a whole their concerns center upon uncontrollable, cataclysmic events such as the global financial meltdown and climate change (Nos. 1 and 2), while raising taxes (No. 22) or cutting taxes (No. 27) are lesser (though still important) concerns.
The phrase ‘Financial Meltdown’ has broken into the Top 20, jumping some 2600% in usage over the last month.
Change is the topmost concern.Though change from what to what remains a good question.‘Change’ is,without question the top word of this campaign.Both candidates are benefitting from the mantra; however Obama holds a 3:2 edge over McCain in this regard.
The second-most discussed term of the campaign barely surfaces in most media reports, and this is the combination of ‘Climate Change’ and/or ‘Global Warming’.
Experience (No. 5) counts.A lot. Especially, if that experience can serve as a guide through the current series of cataclysmic events.McCain edges Obama 4:3 in the experience category. But Obama is given significant credit as a quick (and judicious) study.
Everyone is talking about race (No. 16) except, apparently, the electorate.It is a Top Twenty issue, but it’s nestled between Joe the Plumber and Obama’s smoking.
Iraq is now a non-issue. No. 8, Surge,and its apparent success has settled the argument, so it is no longer a question of victory or defeat.Even Al Qaeda has lost its grip on the electorate, falling some 11 spots in two weeks.
Palin (Nos 14 and 21) is a ‘go-to’ subject for the media and campaigns alike, with both sides thinking they gain tremendous leverage in her disparagement or apotheosis.
Tony Rezko (No. 23), Acorn (No. 24) and Jeremiah Wright (No. 26) are indeed issues, but are viewed as minor, settled or both for the Obama campaign.
The word, aloof, as related to Obama is no longer on the list. At the end of the Primary season in June, it was No 14 and a major concern of the Obama campaign. Obama has apparently overcome this sense of aloofness.
The ranking of Top Election Buzzwords of the 2008 Presidential Campaign and commentary follow.
Presidential Campaign PQI 11.2.08 Comment
Rank
1 Change Obama has a 3:2 Edge over McCain with Change
2 Climate Change Global warming within 1/2 of 1% for the overall lead
3 Gasoline Up 2 this week as prices fall
4 Recession Does a global financial meltdown count as a recession?
5 Experience Down 2; McCain has 4:3 Edge Here
6 Obama Muslim A continued presence in Cyberspace
7 Subprime How we got into this mess in the first place
8 Surge One of the Top Words from ’07 now taking a victory lap
9 “That one” Has spurred the Obama base with ‘I’m for That One’ slogans
10 “Just Words” Oh Hillary, what hath thou wrought?
11 Gender Up dramatically since fall campaign though down for week
12 Working Class Whites Still the object of much affection AND derision
13 Price of oil More discussion as price declines; up 5
14 Palin Swimsuit On SNL Alec Baldwin claimed Balin’s ‘way hotter in person’
15 Joe the Plumber Now making appearances with McCain; up 5
16 Racism (election) Belies all the media buzz; now in top 20
17 Obama smoking Down 5 but still in Top Twenty
18 Financial meltdown Now buzzworthy, indeed.
19 Wall Street Bailout As reality of global financial meltdown sets in, down 6
20 Internet fundraising Hangs in there as a hot buzzword at 20
21 Lipstick Drops dramatically over the last survey; down 10
22 Raise taxes Raise Taxes No 22; cut taxes No. 27. Ho Hum.
23 Rezko Obama’s relationship with Tony Rezko gains one
24 Acorn Voter Reg Loses a couple as interest apparently wanes
25 Al Qaeda election Lurking beneath the surface but falls out of Top Twenty
26 Jeremiah Wright Dr. Wright remains on the radar though falling five more spots
27 Cut taxes Raise Taxes No 22; cut taxes No. 27. Ho Hum.
28 Hockey Mom Causes headlines but not a top issue
29 Nuclear Iran Drops one more spot since last survey
30 Wash Talking Heads Not a good week for the Cognoscenti; down 15
The ranking is determined by GLM’s PQI Index, a proprietary algorithm that scours the global print and electronic media, the Internet, and blogosphere for ‘hot’ political buzzwords and then ranks them according to year-over-year change, acceleration and directional momentum. Using this methodology, GLM was the only media analytics organization that foresaw the ’04 electorate voting with their moral compasses rather than their pocketbooks.
The Top Political Buzzwords for the 2006 Midterm Elections included: Throes, Quagmire, Credibility, Global Warming, and Insurgency; the Top Political Buzzwords from the 2004 Campaign included: Swift Boats, Flip Flop, Quagmire, Fahrenheit 911, Misleader, and Liar!

Listen to the Interview on WNYC/PRI
.
The Final Debate: Obama & McCain Differ Sharply
Obama Doubles Use of Passive Voice Over McCain

Memorable quotes: ‘Joe the Plumber’; ‘I am not President Bush’

Austin, Texas, USA. October 16, 2008. In a linguistic analysis of the final Presidential Debate between Barack Obama and John McCain, the Global Language Monitor has found that in sharp contrast to prior debates, Obama’s use of the passive voice doubled that of McCain (and was significantly higher than he typically uses). The use of the passive voice is considered significant in political speech because audiences generally respond better to active voice, which they tend to view asmore direct. On a grade-level basis, Obama came in at 9.3 with McCain scoring grade level, while McCain came in at 7.4, a difference of nearly two grade levels. The debate took place at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York. The statistical breakdown follows.

Obama McCain Difference

Words 7,146 6,562 584
Words/Sentence 19.4 15.2 4.2
Sentences/Paragraph 2.0 2.1 5%
Characters/Word 4.4 4.4 0%
Passive Voice (%) 6% 3% 100%
Reading Ease 62.6 68.6 6
Grade level 9.3 7.4 1.9
Using industry-standard tools and techniques, GLM ranks the candidates’ speech on a number of levels from grade-reading level, the use of the passive voice, a reading ease score (the higher, the easiest to understand), the number of words per sentence, the number of characters per word, among others.

“Again, word choice and usage speaks volumes,” said Paul JJ Payack, GLM’s President & Chief Word Analyst. “Obama came in at a higher grade level than his previous efforts, but McCain was somewhat easier to understand. Obama’s significantly higher use of the passive voice combined with his frequent use of the word ‘I’ perhaps indicated an impatience with his opponent last witnessed in his debates with Hillary Clinton.”
Read: L’Histoire’s La Langue des Campagnes
Obama used the personal pronoun, ‘I’ about 158 times in the debate, while McCain used the word some 119 times.
Memorable phrases include more than a dozen references to ‘Joe the Plumber,’ one Joe Wurzelbacher of Holland, Ohio, and John McCain’s ‘I am not President Bush’ retort to Sen. Obama’s attempt to link his policies to those of the current president.

Obama the Intellectual

Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times

.

For comparison purposes, here are the results last week’s Town-hall style debate. That debate was notable in the fact that the questions asked by the audience outdistanced both Obama and McCain in the grade-level ranking category. Perhaps, the most memorable phrase from that debate is perhaps ‘’That one!” the term McCain used to refer to Obama. “That One” has already joined GLM’s analysis of the Top Political Buzzwords of the 2008 Campaign.

Obama McCain Difference

Words 7,146 6,562 584
Words/Sentence 19.4 15.2 4.2
Sentences/Paragraph 2.0 2.1 5%
Characters/Word 4.4 4.4 0%
Passive Voice (%) 6% 3% 100%
Reading Ease 62.6 68.6 6
Grade level 9.3 7.4 1.9
Top Buzzwords of Presidential Campaign: Two Weeks Out
Bailout falls dramatically; Experience and Gender Rise
‘Change’ and ’Global Warming/Climate Change’ in statistical tie for top
.
Austin, TX, USA October 21, 2008 – In an analysis completed just two weeks before the US Presidential Elections the Global Language Monitor has announced that Change and Climate Change remain in a statistical tie for top spot in its list of Political Buzzwords of the 2008 Presidential Campaign, with Bailout falling dramatically to No. 13.
“In the Change ranking, Obama outdistanced McCain by a 3:2 ratio, while in the No. 2 Experience ranking, McCain held a 3:2 edge over Obama,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “Joe the Plumber and ACORN voter registration references broke into the Top 25, at No. 19 and No. 22, respectively.In a related finding, Gender (No. 10) continued to rise as Race (No. 20) continued to fall, raising the question if gender is the new race?”
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 new context as an Iraq War strategy, it inspires a set of emotions in many people far beyond the norm. The rank of Top Election Buzzwords, past rank, and commentary follow.
1. Change (1) — Obama has a 3:2 edge over McCain with Change
2.Climate Change(2) — Global warming within 1/2 of 1% for the overall lead
3.Experience (5) — McCain has 3:2 edge over Obama with Experience
4.Recession (4) — World economy imploding but still not officially a ‘recession’
5.Gasoline (6) — Up one as the price dropsa1
6.Obama Muslim Connection (8) — A persistent topic in Cyberspace; up 2
7.Subprime (7) — How we got into this mess in the first place
8.Surge (10) — One of the Top Words from ‘07 moving up ‘ 08 chart
9.“That one” (12) – The remark has spurred the Obama base: ‘I’m for That One’
10.Gender(9) – Is ‘gender’ the new ‘race’?
11.Lipstick(13) — Any talk of Lipstick seems to spur McCain-Palin base
12.Obama smoking (11) – Surprise here; continues to draw interest
13.Bailout (3) – Bailout, as a word, dramatically slipping as reality of the entire debacle sets in
14.“Just Words” (20) — Hillary’s comment on Obama still echoes through the media
15.Washington Talking Heads (21) – Up six this past week alone
16.Palin Swimsuit (24) – Fueled by Alec Baldwin on SNL:Balin’s ‘way hotter in person’
17.Al Qaeda (14) — Always lurking beneath the surface
18.Price of oil (15) – Weakens as price declines
19.Joe the Plumber (NR) – Breaks into Top 25 in debut
20.Race (16) – Continues to drop in media buzz
21.Jeremiah Wright (19) — Dr. Wright remains on the radar, down from No.2 at start
22.Acorn Voter Registration (NR) –Debuts in Top 25; dramatic move over last week
23.Internet fundraising (17) — Loses luster as story; down 6 more spots
24.Rezko (25) — Obama’s relationship with Tony Rezko breaks into Top 25
25.Raise taxes (18) Raise Taxes No 25; cut taxes No. 27:Are you Listening
Others
26.Hockey Mom (22) – Loses a bit of steam
27.Cut taxes (26) Both ‘cut’ and ‘raise’ down this week, again
28.Nuclear Iran (23) Peaked out at No. 18
The ranking is determined by GLM’s PQI Index, a proprietary algorithm that scours the global print and electronic media, the Internet, and blogosphere for ‘hot’ political buzzwords and then ranks them according to year-over-year change, acceleration and directional momentum. Using this methodology, GLM was the only media analytics organization that foresaw the ’04 electorate voting with their moral compasses rather than their pocketbooks.
The Top Political Buzzwords for the 2006 Midterm Elections included: Throes, Quagmire, Credibility, Global Warming, and Insurgency; the Top Political Buzzwords from the 2004 Campaign included: Swift Boats, Flip Flop, Quagmire, Fahrenheit 911, Misleader, and Liar!
The US Presidential Election and the Financial Tsunami

Seemingly chaotic events reflect normalcy of new reality

A Historical Inflection Point

Austin, Texas, USA.October 13, 2008. The worldwide financial tsunami that has captured the attention of the worldwide media (as well as governments, corporations and ordinary citizens), has come to dominate one of the great quadrennial media events of the post-Modern era.No, we are not referring to the Olympics, most recently held in Beijing, or even football’s World Cup but, rather, the US Presidential elections.
The immediate effect of this unprecedented upheaval of global markets is the obfuscation of the clear lines of division offered by the opposing parties in the US Presidential Elections.
There is the sense that we are witnessing an unprecedented historical event; historical in the sense that we now appear to be standing astride (or atop) a cusp in history, a delta, a decision point, what is now called a point of inflection or inflection point.
Watching the nightly news and reading the traditional (for the last two centuries, that is) media, one has the distinct sense that what they perceive as unprecedented almost chaotic circumstances is actually that of the normalcy of the new reality, that of communications at the speed of light that the internet has foisted upon us.
We keep hearing about this most unusual of election cycles, but this is only true when looking through the prism (and historical construct) of the traditional news gathering operations. What is called the 24-hour News Cycle is actually just the tip of the Tsunami washing over the planet at a steady speed and ever-quicker pace.Indeed, the nature of the beast hasn’t change at all.It is our outdated techniques, that haven’t kept up with the new reality:News now emanates at the speed of thought, from tens of thousands or, even, millions of sources.
The nature of a Tsunami is little understood other than the tremendous damage it unleashes when it washes ashore.What we do know, however, is that a tsunami travels in exceedingly long waves (tens of kilometers in length) racing through the oceanic depths at hundreds of kilometers per hour.Only upon reaching the shore is its true destructive power unleashed for all to see (if they survive to witness it at all).
In the same manner, the traditional media become transfixed with the roiling surface seas but fail to acknowledge the more sustained and significant, movements occurring just beneath the surface.
The surface swirls about in fascinating eddies, but the true transformation is occurring as the nearly undetectable waves rush through the open sea only occasionally, though dramatically, making their way onto shore.
In the same manner, the traditional media focuses on the Twenty-four-hour News Cycle but seem to miss the strong and prevalent currents immediately beneath the surface.They vainly attempt to tie global, transformative, and unprecedented events to relatively parochial events and forces (the Reagan Years, the Clinton administration, Bush 41 and 43, the de-regulation initiatives of Alan Greenspan of ‘99) that are being all but over-shadowed (and –whelmed) by unyielding and all-but irresistible forces.
There is an almost palpable sense and correct sense that things are 1) changing forever, 2) out of our control (or even influence), and 3) will have a direct impact upon the planet for generations to follow.
What we can control, and make sense of, however, is a candidate’s wink, smirk or disdainful reference.We can emphatically pin down our opponents into convenient sound bites, hopefully contradicting earlier sound bites.Do you personally take responsibility for Climate Change?(Does the fact that New York City was beneath 5,000 feet of Ice a few dozen centuries ago influence your vote today? A yes or no will suffice!)Is your personal philosophy, whatever it might be, grounded in a belief system that I can systematically debunk and demean.(Yes or no.)Are you for or against atom smashers creating miniscule black holes that may or may not swallow up the Earth?(Answer yes and you are a barbarian; answer no and you have absolutely no respects of the future prospects of the human race.)Did you ever consider yourself a loser (at any point in your life)?Did you ever make the acquaintance of fellow losers?
Nevertheless, the US Presidential Election will proceed to its own conclusion on the first Tuesday of November in the year two thousand and eight.
For the preceding five years, The Global Language Monitor has attempted to clarify the course (and future course) of human events as documented in the English language. The tools at our disposal have sometimes allowed us to peer into events and trends that become, otherwise, obscured, by the ‘noise’ of the Twenty-four Hour News Cycle. Our goal was, and continues to be, to extricate (and explicate upon) the true currents underpinning the events we call news, and to better understand what they mean and how they are perceived with the new media reality in mind. For example, back in the days preceding the 2004 Presidential election cycle, GLM discovered the fact that once ideas, words and phrases were launched into the vast, uncharted, oceanic Internet, they do not, indeed, die out after twenty-four hours but, rather, travel in deep, powerful currents and waves (not unlike those of a tsunami) that only grow stronger as they make their ways to distant shores.
In this new reality, tsunami-like ideas pass through vast seas of information of the Internet, nearly undetected and often unmeasured, until they crash upon our shorelines, where their full power (and possibly fury) is unleashed. The fact that we only entertain them for 24 hours before they are dispatched into the archives of what is considered ‘past’ or ‘passed’ and readily discarded, is beyond the point. We often hear that ‘we’ve never seen anything like this’ before.Of course not.Think back a few hundred years to other information revolutions, such as that introduced along with mechanical type.What do you think the fortunate few thought when they first laid their eyes upon the works of Aristotle, the Bible, or the Arabic translations of Euclid?No one had ever seen anything like that before!Indeed. And astonishment will only become more so as the future unfolds.
– Paul JJ Payack, President & Chief Word Analyst, The Global Language Monitor
Vice Presidential Debate Linguistic Analysis:

Palin at 10th Grade-level; Biden at 8th Grade-level

Palin’s use of passive voice highest of the 2008 Debates

Read about CNN’s take on the GLM debate analysis.

The Debate on the Debate on the

An Analysis of the Analysis

Austin, Texas, USA. October 3, 2008. The first and only vice presidential debate of the 2008 Campaign has resulted in Governor Sarah Palin, the republican nominee for vice president speaking at a 10th grade level, with Senator Joe Biden coming in at an 8th grade level. Also noteworthy was the fact that Gov. Palin’s use of passive voice was the highest (at 8%) of the 2008 Presidential and Vice Presidential debates thus far. The analysis was performed by The Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com), the Austin, Texas-based media analytics and analysis company.

GLM ranks the candidates’ speech on a number of levels from grade-reading level, the use of the passive voice, ‘a readability’ score (the closer to one hundred the easiest to understand, the number of words per sentence, even the number of characters per word.

The statistical breakdown follows.

Vice Presidential Debate

Biden Palin Comment

Grade Level 7.8 9.5 Palin raises a few eyebrows here.
No. of Words 5,492 5235 This is a surprise; shows tremendous restraint on the normally loquacious Biden.Obama used 20 more words per minute than McCain.
Sentences/Paragraph 2.7 2.6 A statistical tie.
Words/Sentence 15.8 19.9 Palin even outdistances professorial Obama on this one; Obama scored 17.4
Characters/Word 4.4 4.4 Everyone has apparently learned that shorter words are easier to understand (rather than monosylablic words facilitate comprehension).
Passive Voice 5% 8% Passive voice can be used to deflect responsibility;Biden used active voice when referring to Cheney and Bush;Palin countered with passive deflections.
Ease of Reading 66.7 62.4 100 is the easiest to read (or hear).
Notes: The excessive use of passive voice can be used to obscure responsibility, since there is no ‘doer of the action’. For example, ‘Taxes will be raised’ is a passive construction, while ‘I will raise (or lower) taxes’ is an active construction. Five percent is considered average; low for a politician.

By way of comparison, the ranking by grade-levels for historical debates follow.

Historical Contrasts Grade level

Lincoln in Lincoln-Douglas Debates 11.2
Joseph Lieberman 9.9
Ronald Reagan 9.8
John F. Kennedy 9.6
Sarah Palin 9.5
Richard Nixon 9.1
Dick Cheney 9.1
Michael Dukakis 8.9
Bill Clinton 8.5
Al Gore 8.4
George W. Bush 7.1
George H.W. Bush 6.6
Ross Perot 6.3
The number of words is considered approximate, since transcripts vary.

The methodology employed is a modified Flesch-Kincaid formulation.

The First Presidential Debate:

A ‘Linguistic Dead Heat’ — with One Exception

In true professorial fashion, Obama averages some 20 more words per minute

Austin, Texas, USA. September 28, 2008. The first presidential debate of the 2008 Campaign resulted in a ‘Linguistic Dead Heat’ according to an analysis performed by The Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com). In nearly every category, from grade level to the use of passive voice, even the average numbers of letters in the words they chose, the candidates remained within the statistical margin of error with one major exception. In the Number of Words category that the candidates used to convey their messages, Obama, in true professorial style, outdistanced McCain by some thousand words, which breaks down to an average of about 20 more words per minute.

“As in the famous Harvard-Yale game back in 1968, Harvard declared a victory after securing a come-from-behind 29-29 tie. In the same manner, both sides in the debate have declared victory in an essential deadlocked outcome,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM. “Look at the debate as a football game. Both teams effectively moved the ball. However, the scoring was low, and the quarterbacks performed as expected, with McCain completing some excellently thrown passes only to have others blocked by Obama. Obama’s ground game was more impressive, churning out the yards — but he had difficulty getting the ball over the goal line.”

The statistical breakdown follows.

McCain Obama

Sentences per paragraph 2.2 2.1
Words per sentence 15.9 17.4
Characters per word 4.4 4.3
Passive voice 5% 5%
Ease of Reading (100 Top) 63.7 66.8
Grade Level 8.3 8.2
Number of words (approximate) 7,150 8,068

Notes: The excessive use of passive voice can be used to obscure responsibility, since there is no ‘doer of the action’. For example, ‘Taxes will be raised’ is a passive construction, while ‘I will raise (or lower) taxes’ is an active construction. Five percent is considered low.

What are they saying in China?

McCain’s Speech Comes in at the Third Grade Level

Most Direct of all Speakers at Either Convention

Palin & Obama Speech Score Nearly Identical

Austin, Texas, USA.September 7, 2008. (Updated) In an exclusive analysis of the speeches made at the recently concluded Political Conventions, the Global Language Monitor found that John McCain spoke at a third grade reading level, meaning that his speech was the easiest to comprehend of any delivered at either convention.GLM also found that McCain scored the lowest of all convention speakers in use of the passive voice, an indication of ‘direct’ talk.Higher use of the passive voice is often view as an indicator of ‘indirect’ and more easily confused speech because the doer of the action is obscured:‘Taxes will be raised’ rather than ‘I will raise taxes’.

In another finding, GLM found that both Sarah Palin’s and Barack Obama’s widely viewed (38 and 37 million viewers respectively), and much acclaimed acceptance speeches were closely similar, delivered in language that reflected a ninth grade (9.2 and 9.3 respectively) ‘reading level’.
The basic language evaluation stats are shown below.
John McCain Sarah Palin Barack Obama
3.7 9.2 9.3 Grade Level
1.9 1.3 1.5 Sentences / Paragraph
4.4 4.4 4.4 Letters / Word
79.1 63.8 64.4 Reading Ease (100 is easiest)
6.4 19.5 22.1 Words / Sentence
2% 8% 5% Passive Sentences

It is widely believed that shorter sentences, words and paragraphs are easier to comprehend.
The analysis was performed by the Global Language Monitor, the media analysis and analytics agency.
GLM used a modified Flesch-Kincaid formula for its analysis, which measures factors such as number of words in a sentence, number of letters in a word, the percentage of sentences in passive voice, and other indicators of making things easier to read and, hence, understand.

This release comes in at the second year of college level (14+).
Warning: do not incorporate these words into presidential addresses.

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


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