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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.  [Read more.]

Analysis: Seismic Shift to Internet in the Reporting

.of News as Evidenced by Death of Michael Jackson

“The Death of Michael Jackson has become a case study in the growing disparity between the mainstream global media and their newer Internet incarnations,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor.

“The world has, indeed, witnessed a seismic shift in the reporting, analysis, and selection of news as evidenced by the recent death of Michael Jackson. In this regard, it appears as if the people have ‘voted with their clicks’ that the Internet is now an equal (if not senior) partner to the global print and electronic media.

London Telegraph:  Michael Jackson’s Death Second Biggest Story of Century

The cyber-reporting of recent events in Iran only underscores this new (and growing) phenomenon.”


Analysis:  Michael Jackson funeral tops those of Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, Princess Diana and Mother Teresa


Measured Global Print and Electronic Media from Day of Death to Day after Funeral


Austin, TX July 9, 2009– In an exclusive analysis performed by the Global Language Monitor, the death of Michael Jackson, the entertainment icon, has been found to be the Top Funeral in the Global Print and Electronic Media over the last dozen years . Jackson moved ahead of Pope John Paul II, whose funeral in 2005 previously set the standard.

The results follow:

  1. Michael Jackson, June 25 – July 8, 2009
  2. Pope John Paul II, April 2 – April 9, 2005
  3. Ronald Reagan, June 5 – June 10, 2004
  4. Mother Teresa, September 5 – September 14, 1997
  5. Princess Diana, August 31 – September 7, 1997

The death, aftermath, and funeral of Michael Jackson had some 18% more stories in the global print and electronic media than that of Pope John Paul II in 2005. The analysis covered the Top 5,000 print and electronic media sites, but excluded blogs and social media since they did not have a significant presence throughout the entire period of measurement.

“The death of Michael Jackson, and the media frenzy surrounding of its aftermath and his funeral, has moved Michael Jackson to the forefront of coverage of similar prominent deaths over the last dozen years,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of GLM.  Other prominent passings include those of Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, Princess Diana and Mother Teresa. “The strength (and depth) of the global media coverage only adds to his already significant legacy and shows no sign of abetting.”

When measured in terms total web presence, Jackson outdistances Ronald Reagan, at No. 2, by more a factor of 10.

The results follow:

  1. Michael Jackson, died in 2009
  2. Ronald Reagan, died in 2004
  3. Pope John Paul II, died in 2005
  4. Princess Diana, died in 1997
  5. Mother Teresa, died in 1997


Jackson Joins yet another Hall of Fame

Michael Jackson Death No. 2 Internet Story of 21st Century

Internet No. 2 (to Obama’s Election); Mainstream Media Ranking No.9

Austin, TX June 29, 2009 (MetaNewswire) – The death of Michael Jackson, the entertainment icon, is now one of the top stories of the 21st century, according to a analysis released by the Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com).  In the 72 hours after his death, Jackson jumped to the No. 9 spot for the global print and electronic media.  For Internet, blogs and social media, Jackson jumped to the No.2, only trailing the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States.  The results showed the growing disparity between the mainstream global media, and what is playing out for news on the Internet, and beyond.

The citations for Michael Jackson in the Mainstream Media numbered in the thousands; his citations on the Internet, and beyond numbered in the millions.  The analysis tracked news stories within the first seventy-two hours after the event. The events include in descending order of Internet citations include:  The Obama election, the death of Michael Jackson, the Iraq War, the Beijing Olympics, the Financial Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the death of Pope John Paul II, the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks and the Asian Tsunami.

Citations for the election of Barack Obama are five times greater than that of No. 2, Michael Jackson.  In turn, the death of Michael Jackson is cited more than double than those for the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003.

“The death of Michael Jackson has resulted in a global media event of the first order” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of GLM.  “The fact that he has broken into the top media events of the 21st century is a testament to the global impact of the man and his music.”

Mainstream Global Media

Internet, Blogs & Social Media
Rank Story Year
Rank Story Year
1 Obama 2008
1 Obama 2008
2 Hurricane Katrina 2005
2 Michael Jackson 2009
3 Financial Tsunami 2008
3 Iraq War 2003
4 Iraq War 2003
4 Beijing Olympics 2008
5 9/11 Terrorist Attacks 2001
5 Financial Tsunami 2008
6 Beijing Olympics 2008
6 Hurricane Katrina 2005
7 Pope John Paul II 2005
7 Pope John Paul II 2005
8 S. Asian Tsunami 2005
8 9/11 Terrorist Attacks 2001
9 Michael Jackson 2009
9 S. Asian Tsunami 2005




Linguists Fret as the World Celebrates Global English


There are 10,000 other stories hailing the arrival of the 1,000,000th word from Abu Dhabi, and Tehran, to Beijing, to Sydney, to Chicago and Sri Lanka.

‘Millionth English word’ declared

A US web monitoring firm has declared the millionth English word to be Web 2.0, a term for the latest generation of web products and services.

Matt Frei reports on English’s unique linguistic evolution and then spoke to Global Language Monitor’s Paul Payack who helped find this millionth English word.


The Million Word March in Smithsonian Magazine


THE WORLD IN WORDS:  Top Words of 2008


The WordMan’s Guide to Global English!

For Complete Coverage of the Million Word March Click Here.

College Rankings (Momentum) — April 2009

For Current Edition Summer/Spring 2012 (April 2012), Click here



For 2009 College Rankings, click here.

For 2009 Top University Rankings, click here.

For 2009 University Momentum Rankings, click here.

Liberal Arts Colleges — Momentum

Bard nips Colorado College, followed by Harvey Mudd, Wesleyan, & St Olaf

Grinnel, Holy Cross, Gettysburg, Claremont McKenna & St Lawrence in Top Ten

Exclusive Internet-based College and University Rankings

Austin, Texas.   April 8, 2009.   In an exclusive TrendTopper MediaBuzz analysis, the Global Language Monitor  (www.LanguageMonitor.com) has ranked the nation’s colleges and universities  according their appearance on the Internet, throughout the Blogosphere, as well in the global print and electronic media.  The analysis is the only college ranking including Social Media.

Learn more about GLM’s College Reputation Management Services

The analysis was concluded in early April.  The measurement period began 12/31/2008.

Several interim ‘snapshots’ were also made during the period to determine momentum and velocity.

Momentum is defined as change since the last day of 2008.

Velocity is defined as movements over the preceding 30 days.

The TrendTopper MediaBuzz ranking are powered by the Global Language Monitor’s Predictive Quantities Indicator, a proprietary algorithm.

To learn more about the PQI, click here.

Rank Overall
1 Bard College, NY 10
2 Colorado College, CO 1
3 Harvey Mudd College, CA 45
4 Wesleyan University, CT 37
5 St Olaf College, MN 40
6 Grinnell College, IA 29
7 Holy Cross, MA 38
8 Gettysburg College, PA 39
9 Claremont McKenna, CA 43
10 St Lawrence, NY 47
11 Drew University, NJ 33
12 Occidental College, CA 28
13 Davidson College, NC 25
14 Southwestern U., TX 48
15 Skidmore College, NY 41
16 U. of Richmond, VA 7
17 Middlebury College, VT 6
18 Furman University, SC 42
19 Trinity College, CT 22
20 Macalester College, MN 54
21 Reed College, OR 34
22 Amherst College, MA 3
23 Connecticut College, CT 26
24 Whitman College, WA 44
25 Wellesley College, MA 4
26 Colgate University, NY 17
27 DePauw University, IN 35
28 Centre College, KY 46
29 Lafayette College, PA 19
30 Colby College, ME 27
31 Pomona College, CA 28
32 Scripps College, CA 50
33 Barnard College, NY 18
34 Kenyon College, OH 31
35 Swarthmore College, PA 13
36 Bucknell University, PA 12
37 Haverford College, PA 30
38 Bates College, ME 32
39 Hamilton College, NY 15
40 Dickinson College, PA 23
54 Mount Holyoke, MA 20
41 Union College, NY 8
42 Washington & Lee, PA 36
43 Smith College, MA 14
44 Williams College, MA 2
45 Oberlin College, OH 5
46 Bryn Mawr College, PA 16
47 Vassar College, NY 9
48 Franklin & Marshall, PA 49
49 Carleton College, MN 24
50 Bowdoin College, ME 11

Click here to return to the College Rankings Main Page

Top HollyWords of 2008

<img src=”http://tbn3.google.com/images?q=tbn:_HaTE6bSZjWugM:http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/11/06/magazine/11safire600.1.jpg” alt=”" />
<h3>‘Jai Ho!’ and ‘Slumdog’ top HollyWORDs of 2008</h3>
<h3>followed by ‘Hmong,’ ‘Nuke the Fridge’ and ‘Twinkie defense’</h3>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>6th Annual Survey by the Global Language Monitor</span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span> </span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>Austin, TX. February 26, 2009.<span>  </span>‘Jai Ho!’ and ‘Slumdog’ from Slumdog Millionaire top the 2008 list of words from Hollywood that most influenced the English Language in 2008.<span>  </span>Closely following were ‘Hmong’ fromGran Torino, ‘Nuke the Fridge’ from Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull and ‘Twinkie defense’ (which followed the events depicted in Milk).<span>  </span><span> </span>It was the first time that two words from the same movie were ranked in the Top Ten.<span>  </span>Rounding out the Top Ten were:<span>  </span>‘Djembe’ (The Visitor), “There are no coincidences” (Kung Fu Panda), ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you … stranger,” (The Dark Knight), Posthumous (The Wrestler), and Katrina from Benjamin Button.</span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>“2008 was a remarkable year for words in films, with a Hindi phrase, the name of a Laotian tribe, a West African drum, and a modified quotation from Frederick Nietzsche all making the list,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor.<span> </span></span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>The Top Hollywords of the 2008 with commentary follow.</span></p>

<ol type=”1″>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span><span>Jai Ho! (Slumdog Millionaire) – Literally ‘Let there be Victory’ in Hindi.</span></span></li>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span>Slumdog (Slumdog Millionaire) – Definitely a politically incorrect term for young slum-dwellers in Bombay (Mumbai).</span></li>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span>Nuke the Fridge (Indiana Jones and the ) – Indiana Jones surviving a nuclear blast in a lead-lined fridge is viewed as proof that the franchise has run its course (similar to Fonzi’s Jump the Shark episode on Happy Days).</span></li>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span>Hmong (Gran Torino) – The name of the mountain-dwelling peoples of Laos who were US Allies in the Indochinese Wars of the 1960-70s.<span>  </span>Pronounced with a silent ‘h’:<span>  </span>mong.</span></li>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span>Twinkie Defense (Milk) – The apocryphal outcome of the trial 1979 trial of Dan White, the former San Francisco Supervisor who killed both Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone.<span>  </span>The term was never actually used in the trial but was picked up in the media as a stand-in for ‘diminished capacity’.</span></li>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span><span>Djembe (The Visitor) – West African percussion instrument that Tarek teaches Walter.</span></span></li>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span><span>There are no coincidences (Kung Fu Panda) – Oogway’s solemn pronouncement to Master Shifu</span></span></li>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span>What doesn’t kill you makes you … stranger (The Dark Knight) – The Joker’s twist on the famous Nietzsche epigram.</span></li>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span>Posthumous (The Wrestler) – Yes, that really was Mickey Rourke as a Best Actor nominee, well after he had been pronounced dead many a time.</span></li>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span><span>Katrina (Benjamin Button) – The ominous and pervasive threat of Katrina framing the movie demonstrates the depth to which the hurricane has penetrated the American subconscious.</span></span></li>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span> </span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>Previous Top HollyWord Winners:</span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>2007<span>     </span>“Call it, Friendo,” from “No Country for Old Men”</span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>2006<span>     </span>“High Five!!! Its sexy time!’ from “Borat!”</span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>2005<span>     </span>‘Brokeback’ from “Brokeback Mountain”</span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>2004<span>     </span>“Pinot” from “Sideways”</span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>2003<span>     </span>‘’Wardrobe malfunction” from Super Bowl XXXVIII</span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>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.<span>  </span>The PQI is a weighted Index, factoring in: long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum, and velocity.<span>  </span></span></p>

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Trend: Disillusionment, Anger & Outrage on the Rise

Trend:  Disillusionment, Anger & Outrage


on the Rise Since Obama’s inauguration


‘Deficit of Trust’ and ‘Numbing weight of our political process’ appear to be keepers

Obama State of the Union at 8th Grade Level; Deft use of Passive Constructions


Austin, TX February 1, 2010.  According to an exclusive analysis by the Global Language Monitor, the disillusionment, anger, and outrage acknowledged by President Obama in his State of the Union address has been on the rise since Obama’s election in November 2008.

“Much has been written about what the President in his State of the Union message called the ‘numbing weight of our political process’ and the ‘deficit of trust’ it thus engenders,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst.  “The disillusionment, anger and outrage should not be a surprise, especially to students of political language, who have been analyzing what is being said in the political realm over the last 18 months.  (That this comes as a revelation to our political elites, however, should serve, once again, as a sobering lesson or, even, cautionary tale.)”

Though little noticed by the media, GLM found that in early February, just weeks after the Obama inauguration, the ‘words of despair and fear relating to the global economic meltdown were drowning out those of hope in the global media in the ninety days since the US presidential election on November 4, 2008’.

The representative fear-related words chosen:  Fear, Despair, Abandoned, Desperate and/or Desperation.  In its analysis of the global print and electronic media since the US presidential election, GLM found that those words were used with 18-23% more frequency than 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.  (Even the word fear, itself, was at some 85% of the level it was used in the aftermath of both the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks and the onset of the Iraq War.)

In a separate but related study released in late March, Global Language Monitor found that the word ‘outrage’ had been used more in the global media that month than anytime this century, with the previous benchmark being the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  In particular, the word was used in association with the AIG bonuses, which had recently been distributed.

GLM examined the global print and electronic media for the seven days after the following events:  the 9/11 terrorist attacks in, the start of the Iraq War, and the week after the Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.

The ranking of ‘outrage’ usage in the media:

1. AIG Bonuses, 2009

2. 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001

3. Hurricane Katrina, 2005,

4. Iraq War, 2005

State of the Union Linguistic Analysis

In an evaluation of the State of the Union message, GLM found that the President used the passive voice to deflect responsibility (a time-honored SOTU tradition), and according to the White House transcript there was an overabundance of semi-colons (two dozen plus), some used correctly others in a baffling manner.  And then there was the grammatical lapse in disagreement in number:  “Each of these institutions are (sic) full of honorable men and women ….”    For the record, the President’s address came in at the 8.6 grade level, use of the passive was about 5%, the Grade Level was 8.6 (a bit higher than his Grant Park speech), and reading ease at 62 on a scale of 100 (not as easy to read as to hear).

For more details, send email to editor@globallanguagemonitor.com or call 1.925.367.7557.

Most Confusing High Tech Buzzwords (2008)


Cloud Computing, Green Washing & Buzzword Compliant


Austin Texas November 21, 2008 — In its third annual Internet and media analysis, The Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com) has found the most confusing yet frequently cited high tech buzzwords of 2008 to be cloud computing, green washing, and buzzword compliant followed by resonate, de-duping, and virtualization.  Rounding out the Top Ten were Web 2.0, versioning, word clouds, and petaflop.  The most confusing Acronym for 2008 was SaaS (software as a service).


Paul JJ Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor, said “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 Most Confusing Yet Frequently Cited High Tech Words of 2008 with Commentary follow:


·         Cloud Computing – Distributing or accessing programs and services across the Internet.  (The Internet is represented as a cloud.) 

·         Green washing – Repositioning your product so that its shortfalls are now positioned as environmental benefits:  Not enough power?  Just re-position as energy-saving.

·         Buzzword Compliant — Including the latest buzzwords in literature about a product or service in order to make it ‘resonate’ with the customer.

·         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.

·         De-duping – shorthand for de-duplication, that is, removing redundant data from a system.

·         Virtualization – Around since dinosaurs walked the planet (the late ‘70s) virtualization now applies to everything from infrastructures to I/O.

·         Web 2.0 – Now there’s talk of Web 3.0, just when we were finally getting used to Web 2.0.

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

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

·         Petaflop –  A thousand trillion (or quadrillion) floating point operations per second  Often mistaken as a comment on the environmental group.

The Most Confusing Yet Frequently Cited Acronym for 2008:  SaaS — software-as-as-service to be differentiated, of course, from PaaS (platforms as a service) and IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-service).


Others words under consideration include the ever popular yet amorphous ‘solution’, 3G and SEO.


In 2007 IPOD, Flash, Cookie, Nano and Cookie lead the list with SOA as the most confusing acronym


In 2005, HTTP, VoIP, Megapixel, Plasma, & WORM were the leading buzzwords.


The analysis was completed using GLM’s Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI), the proprietary algorithm that tracks words and phrases in the media and on the Internet.  The words are tracked in relation to frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets.  This analysis was performed earlier this month.


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 1.925.367.7557, email info@GlobalLanguageMonitor.com, or visit www.LanguageMonitor.com.




College Rankings The First Internet-based College and University Rankings – Fall 2008

For Current Edition Summer/Spring 2012 (April 2012), Click here



First Internet-based College and University Rankings (2008)

Austin, Texas, USA.   September 19, 2008.   In an exclusive TrendTopper MediaBuzz analysis of the nation’s colleges and universities, the Global Language Monitor  (www.LangaugeMonitor.com) has ranked the nation’s colleges and universities  according their appearance on the Internet, throughout the Blogosphere, as well in the global print and electronic media.   The rankings include Social Media.

“There are only three types of intellectual property in the US, and one of them is the trademark (or brand) which are intended to represent all the perceived attributes of a service – and institutions of higher education are no different,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst at GLM.  “Prospective students, alumni, employers, and the world at large believe that students who are graduated from such institutions will carry on the all the hallmarks of that particular school.  Our TrendTopper analysis is a way of seeing the schools through the eyes of the world at large.”

The schools were also ranked according to ‘media momentum’ defined as having the largest change in media citations over the last year.

GLM used its proprietary Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI) software for the TrendTopper Media Buzz Analysis. GLM used the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s classifications to distinguish between Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges.The schools were ranked according to their positions in early September, a mid-year snapshot, and used the last day of 2007 as the base.

Top Colleges:

Colorado bests Williams; Richmond, Middlebury, Wellesley follow

Bucknell, Amherst, Oberlin, Vassar, and Pomona in Top Ten

Top Colleges

1 Colorado College
2 Williams College
3 Richmond
4 Middlebury College
5 Wellesley College
6 Bucknell University
7 Amherst College
8 Oberlin College
9 Vassar College
10 Pomona College
11 Hamilton College
12 Union College
13 Swarthmore College
14 Colgate University
15 Bard College
16 Carleton College
17 Bowdoin College
18 Connecticut College
19 Colby College
20 US Naval Academy
21 Barnard College
22 US Military Academy
23 Bates College
24 Bryn Mawr College
25 Skidmore College
26 Gettysburg College
27 Davidson College
28 Mount Holyoke
29 Furman University
30 Lafayette College

College Momentum

Hamilton bests Pomona College; Skidmore, Bard, and Gettysburg follow

Sewanee, Furman, Colby, Connecticut College, and Colgate in Top Ten

Top Colleges, Momentum

1 Hamilton College
2 Pomona College
3 Skidmore College
4 Bard College
5 Gettysburg College
6 Sewanee
7 Furman University
8 Colby College
9 Connecticut College
10 Colgate University
11 Middlebury College
12 Claremont-McKenna
13 Carleton College
14 Whitman College
15 Trinity College
16 Richmond
17 Colorado College
18 Bates College
19 Wesleyan University
20 Harvey Mudd

Global English Articles

We’re all speaking Geek By Ben Macintyre

The London Sunday Times

The world wide web, which turned 15 this week, has given us a fantastic outpouring of new words

FIFTEEN YEARS after the birth of the world wide web, the lines of battle are clear. On one side the still young culture of the internet — anarchic, playful, joyfully (and sometimes wilfully) inaccurate, global and uncontrollable; on the other, a paper-based set of priorities — precise, polite, often national in perspective and increasingly paranoid. The latter seeks to manage, limit and define the culture; the former delights in its resistance to regulation.

The battle rages in the conflict between Wikipedia, the sprawling internet encyclopaedia, and the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the canon versus the loose cannon. This week it erupted in the nursery, when the child-rearing guru Gina Ford threw a tantrum and launched her bizarre attempt to shut down the Mumsnet website because some of the mums had been rude about her.

But in no area of the culture is the collision more intense than over the English language, for the web has changed English more radically than any invention since paper, and much faster. According to Paul Payack, who runs the Global Language Monitor, there are currently 988,974 words in the English language, with thousands more emerging every month. By his calculation, English will adopt its one millionth word in late November. To put that statistic another way, for every French word, there are now ten in English.

That claim has enraged traditional lexicographers. The 20-volume OED has 301,100 entries, and purists point out that Mr Payack has little in the way of method and few criteria to define what really constitutes a word. But that, of course, is the point.

He found the remaining 687,874 words by scouring the internet. Every digital English dictionary was combed, before adding in the emerging words, the hybrids, Chinglish (Chinese-English), the slang, the linguistic odds and sods, and even Hollywords, terms created by the film industry. If a word is used in English, it was acceptable.

The nearest rival to English in sheer fecundity is Chinese, and with 1.3 billion Chinese now being officially urged to learn English, the result is nomogamosis (It is on the list: “A state of marital harmony; a condition in which spouses are well matched.”) and many, many offspring, some of them rather sweet. Drinktea, for example, is a sign on a shop door meaning closed, but also derives from the Mandarin for resting.

The so-called tipping point may have come in the mid-1990s at the same time as the invention of the first effective web browser, for ever since the web has served as a seedbed for language, for the cross-fertilisation and rapid evolution of words.

So far from debasing the language, the rapid expansion of English on the web may be enriching the mother tongue. Like Latin, it has developed different forms that bear little relation to one another: a speaker of Hinglish (Hindi-English) would have little to say to a Chinglish speaker. But while the root of Latin took centuries to grow its linguistic branches, modern non-standard English is evolving at fabulous speed. The language of the internet itself, the cyberisms that were once the preserve of a few web boffins, has simultaneous expanded into a new argot of words and idioms: Ancient or Classic Geek has given way to Modern Geek.

The web has revived the possibilities of word-coinage in a way not seen since Shakespearean times, when the language was gradually assuming its modern structure but was not yet codified into dictionaries (the first comprehensive English dictionary appeared in 1730). Then, as now, the lack of control, and the rapid absorption of new terms and ideas through exploration, colonisation and science, enabled a great flowering of words. Of the 24,000 words used by Shakespeare, perhaps 1,700 were his own inventions: besmirch, anchovy, shudder, impede.

Thanks to the internet, we are witnessing the second great age of the neologism, a fantastic outpouring of words and phrases to describe new ideas or reshape old ideas in novel forms of language. Today, a word does not need the slow spread of verbal usage or literature to gain acceptance. If a word works, the internet can breathe instant life into it.

You do not have to be Shakespeare to forge words. George Bush is constantly evolving new words, but no one should misunderestimate the ability of lesser wordsmiths to do likewise. So many words that ought to exist inexplicably do not. There should be a term for that momentary flash of embarrassment when a cell phone rings and you wonder if it is yours; and for the vague disappointment you feel when you think you are about to sneeze, take a deep breath and then don’t. (National Public Radio in the US recently held a competition to name this proto-sneeze and came up with “sniff-hanger”.) Why is there a word for déjà vu, but nothing to describe the opposite experience, far more common, of knowing something perfectly well but being quite unable to remember it?

Last year this newspaper reported the existence, in the Bantu language Tshiluba, of the long-needed word ilunga, meaning “a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time”. Subsequent investigations suggested that the word may not exist in Tshiluba, but it exists now in English, as thousands of entries on the web attest, and the language is better for it.

Rather than fight the word loans and word borrowings, the strange hybrids and new coinages, we should welcome them. New words expand our world. They can even change it. If ilunga is the thrice-repeated offence that cannot be forgiven, then its opposite is an Arabic word, taraadin, meaning “I win, you win”, the face-saving way to end an argument. As bombs fall on southern Lebanon and missiles on northern Israel, the world could profit from learning a new language, in which ilunga is solved by taraadin.

Spread the word: English is unstoppable

By NEIL REYNOLDS, The Globe and Mail

OTTAWA — California-based linguist Paul Payack expects the English language to gain its one-millionth word this autumn. The language has come a long way indeed, as the English would say, in 400 years. In 1582, the English grammarian Richard Mulcaster could say that the language was “of small reach, stretching no further than this island of ours, nay not there over all.” In 1582, though, William Shakespeare married Ann Hathaway — and the language itself has since flourished as magnificently as the playwright himself. More than one billion people now speak it. Another billion people are learning it. Not bad, indeed.

The British Council, an independent charitable organization, says the English language now has special status of one kind or another in 75 countries. That one-third of the world’s books are published in English. That two-thirds of all scientists read English. That three-quarters of the world’s mail is written in English. That four-fifths of all electronic communications are in English. That people who spend time in Britain simply to learn English spend $2-billion a year doing it.

Language is a fascinating thing, the most complex of human achievements, spontaneously evolved, one unique word or expression at a time, without government control — for that matter, without government interest (aside from official language status). It is true that more than 40 countries have established academic police forces to protect their languages. But these are, for the most part, reactionary institutions that seek to reverse the past rather than invent the future. Cardinal Richelieu was the first of the language cops, founding the illustrious L’Académie française in 1634 with a mandate “to give rules to our language, and to render it pure and elegant.” Time travel would have been a simpler assignment. Once the great language of diplomacy, the French language has been going through rough times. Indeed, France deemed it necessary a few years ago to amend its constitution, specifying French as the official language of the republic. By its nature, language is decentralized, independent and anarchic. Only in exceptional circumstances, is it pure and elegant. It is almost always out of control.

In the 18th century, the English language almost became the American language, escaping by the very skin of its teeth — itself one of those inspired English-only phrases devised by the translators of the King James version of the Bible. (In contrast, the Douay Bible expresses Job’s lament for his wasted body with the literal assertion that “nothing but lips are left about my teeth.”) In the century between the Revolutionary and Civil wars, American references to “the American language” abounded. In 1780, American envoy John Adams could write from France to lobby Congress for an American language academy, directed by learned Americans and empowered to “correct and improve” the young country’s rude misuse of the language. “English is destined to be more generally the language of the world,” he wrote, “than Latin in a previous age and French in the present age.”

North America gave English room to roam. In Mr. Mulcaster’s 1582, English was spoken by perhaps four million people. In Mr. Adams’s 1780, by perhaps 12 million. In Noah Webster’s 1828, on publication of The American Dictionary of the English Language, by perhaps 50 million. A century later, in H.L. Mencken’s rambunctious 1920s, on his publication of The American Language, by perhaps 200 million. With two billion now speaking it or learning to speak it, we can credibly imagine a genuine global language.

Some linguists say that three or four dominant “language brands” will emerge — Chinese and Spanish are most frequently suggested as rival global languages. (In any case, Canada will be competitive. Of the 100 languages used in Canada, Chinese is already No. 3, spoken by one million people.) Language has always been closely connected to patriotism, and almost always to a particular country. The English have always regarded “the American language” as essentially barbaric. Inevitably, in the 19th century, Americans came to regard their distinctive English as a unique language. In 1838, Indiana instructed its state university “to instruct the youth of the Commonwealth in the American language.” In 1854, secretary of state William Marcy ordered U.S. diplomatic missions to use only “the American language.”

Fifteen years ago, Robert MacNeil, the Canadian who for many years co-anchored The MacNeil/Lehrer Report on PBS, wrote his evocative memoir Wordstruck as a love story with the English language. In the end, looking retrospectively from his mother’s home in Halifax to the Atlantic, he says simply: “This is where I was first struck by words. This is where they made me more than a Canadian, an Englishman, or an American; or Scottish, or Irish, or German — all things my forebears were. This is where I became what [dissident Russian poet] Joseph Brodsky calls ‘a citizen of the great English language.’ ” It is this sense of the language that most fully expresses its dynamic.

English is to language as capitalism is to economics. It is the language of laissez-faire, of enterprise — and, beyond all argument, of hope.

Top Politically Incorrect Words of 2007-2008

‘Nappy-Headed Ho’ Top Politically inCorrect Phrase for 2007 Closely Followed by ‘Ho-Ho-Ho’ and ‘Carbon Footprint Stomping’


Henderson , NV . March 21, 2008. ‘Nappy-headed Ho,’’ closely followed by ‘Ho-Ho-Ho’ and ’Carbon Footprint Stomping’ top the list of the most egregious examples of politically inCorrect language found in 2007 by the Global Language Monitor in its annual global survey. This year’s list includes words and phrases from the US , the UK , Australia , and China .

“It is no surprise that a ‘Nappy-headed Ho’ was selected as the Top Politically Incorrect word or phrase for 2007,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of The Global Language Monitor (GLM). “A year later that phrase is still ricocheting about the Internet even affecting Christmas-season Santas in Australia.” The list was nominated by the GLM’s Language Police, volunteer language observers from the world over.
The Top Politically Incorrect Terms and Phrases for previous years include:

  • 2006: Global Warming Denier
  • 2005: Misguided Criminals
  • 2004: Master/Slave computer jargon

The Top Politically inCorrect Words and Phrases for 2007:

1. Nappy-headed Ho’s – Radio personality Don Imus’ reference to the women on the Rutgers University championship basketball team. ‘Nappy’ is ultimately derived from the Anglo Saxon hnoppa for the ‘wooly substance on the surface of cloth’. Combined with the word ‘ho’ — a derogratory term for women, Imus’ comments led to an uproar in the media and ultimately led to his resignation.
2. HoHoHo — Staffing company in Sydney suggesting to prospective Santas to re-phrase their traditional greeting of “ho, ho, ho” in favor of “ha, ha, ha” so as not be confused with American urban parlance, a derogatory term for women.
3. Carbon footprint stomping – The movement to flaunt carbon-intensive activities such as driving Hummers and flying private jets; a reaction to the Green movement is the height of political inCorrectness.
4. Year of the Pig Restrictions – Chinese State Television in Shanghai warns Nestle against Happy Pig New Year ads, foregoing thousands of years of Chinese Tradition, because it might inflame pork-shying minorities.
5. Three Little Pigs – according to the BBC, A retelling of the three little pigs fairy tale, called Three Little Cowboy Builders, was excluded from award consideration because judges said that “ the use of pigs raises cultural issues”. It was also found to “alienate parts of the workforce (building trade): “Is it true that all builders are cowboys, builders get their work blown down, and builders are like pigs?”
6. The ‘Race’ Card – Originally a printed card with information about a thoroughbred horse race, now used in 2008 Presidential campaign parlance as in ‘playing the race card’, meaning intentionally injecting issues of ethnicity into the campaign. The word ‘race’ is ultimately derived from the Old High German for lineage.
7. “Obesity Is Socially Contagious” — That was the widely reported headline in the UCSD press release announcing the results of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that actually came to the opposite conclusion. One of the study’s authors made it worse by stating “It’s spread from person to person like a fashion or a germ … once it starts; it’s hard to stop it. It can spread like wildfire.”
8. Fire-breathing Dragon – Lindsey Gardiner, a leading British children’s author of the popular Lola, Poppy and Max characters, was instructed to eliminate a fire-breathing dragon from her new book because publishers feared they could be sued under health and safety regulations.
9. “Wucha dun did now?” — Handbook distributed a Houston school district police officer to enable the reader to speak “as if you just came out of the hood”.
10. Gypsy skirt – The worldwide phenomenon of the gypsy, tiered or Boho skirt has a new name: Traveler’s Skirt, since police in Cornwall believed that the term ‘Gypsy Skirt’ might be considered offensive to this cultural minority.
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.
GLM is moving its headquarters to Austin , Texas in the coming months.


Top Politically (in)Correct Words for 2005



Misguided Criminals, Intrinsic appitude, and Thought Shower Top List


San Diego, California (Updated November 29, 2005) Misguided Criminals, Intrinsic Aptitude, and Thought Shower top the list of the most egregious examples of politically correct language found in 2005 by the Global Language Monitor in its annual global survey. This year’s list includes words from the US, UK, France and Australia.

“2005 was the year we saw the Political Correctness movement become a truly global phenomenon,” said Paul JJ Payack, President of The GlobalLanguage Monitor (GLM). “The list is but one more example of the insertion of politics into every facet of modern life.”

The year has been rife with examples that have been nominated by the GLM’s Language Police, volunteer language observers from the world over.

Click here to Watch WCCO’s Video (Minneapolis)

Click here to Read and Listen to the Chinese Radio Int’l (CRI) Report

The Top Politically inCorrect Words and Phrases for 2005:

1. Misguided Criminals for Terrorist: The BBC attempts to strip away all emotion by using what it considers neutral descriptions when describing those who carried out the bombings in the London Tubes. The rub: the professedintent of these misguided criminals was to kill, without warning, as many innocents as possible (which is the common definition for the term, terrorist). The phrase was selected by GLM as but one example in line with the published BBC Editorial Guidelines where it is noted that the word ‘terrorist’ itself can be a barrier rather than aid to understanding. Suggested alternatives include: bomber, attacker, insurgent and militant, among others. These and similar words are deemed to have no emotional or value judgments. However, the word Terrorist can be used as long as it appears in a quoted attribution. [To see one example used by John Simpson, BBC World Affairs Editor, Click Here.]

2. Intrinsic Aptitude (or lack thereof) was a suggestion by LawrenceSummers, the president of Harvard, on why women might be underrepresented in engineering and science. He was nearly fired for his speculation.

3. Thought Shower or Word Shower substituting for brainstorm so as not to offend those with brain disorders such as epilepsy.

4. Scum or “la racaille” for French citizens of Moslem and North African descent inhabiting the projects ringing FrenchCities. France’s Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, used this most Politically inCorrect (and reprehensible) label to describe the young rioters (and by extension all the inhabitants of the Cites).

5. Out of the Mainstream when used to describe theideology of any political opponent: At one time slavery was in the mainstream, thinking the sun orbited the earth was in the mainstream, having your blood sucked out by leeches was in the mainstream. What’s so great about being in the mainstream?

6. Deferred Success as a euphemism for the word fail. The Professional Association of Teachers in the UK considered a proposal to replace any notion of failure withdeferred success in order to bolster students self-esteem.

7. Womyn for Women to distance the word from man. This in spite of the fact that the term man in the original Indo-European is gender neutral (as have been its successors for some 5,000 years).

8. C.E. for A.D.: Is the current year A.D. 2005 or 2005 C.E.? There is a movement to strip A.D. (Latin for “In the Year of the Lord”) from the year designation used in the West since the 5th century and replace it with the supposedly moreneutral Common Era (though the zero reference year for the beginning of the Common Era remains the year of Christ’s birth).

9. “God Rest Ye Merry Persons” for “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”: A Christmas, eh, Holiday, carol with 500 years of history isnot enough to sway the Anglican Church at Cardiff Cathedral (Wales) from changing the original lyrics. There are those who suggest going one step further: “Higher Power Rest Ye Merry Persons”.

10. Banning the word Mate: the Department ofParliamentary Services in Canberra issued a general warning to its security staff banning the use of the word ‘mate’ in dealings t with both members of Parliament and the public. What next? banning ‘no worries’ so as not to offend the worried, or banning ‘Down Under’ So as not to offend those of us who live in the “Up Over”.

HolidayBonus: Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings for Christmas (which in some UK schools now label Wintervale). However, the word holiday is derived directly from Holy Day, and in the word X-Mas, the Greek letter ‘chi’ represented by the Roman X actually stands for the first two letters of the name Christ.) Now there are published reports of organization banning the traditional Christmas Colours of red and green.

Last year the Top Politically Incorrect words were: Los Angeles Countys insistence of covering over with labels any computer networking protocols that mention master/slave jargon. Following closelywere same-sex marriage for marriage and waitron for waiter of waitress.

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