Keep Presidential Speeches Smart

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Medialand

Trevor Butterworth, 06.22.10

Trevor Butterworth is the editor of stats.org, an affiliate of George Mason University that looks at how numbers are used in public policy and the media. He writes a weekly column for Forbes.

If the Gulf oil spill is a national tragedy, the arguments over President Obama’s response to it have descended into a national farce. When former law professors go looking for “ass to kick,” they end up looking like the eponymous hero of Kickass, a nerdy kid copying moves he’s seen in comic books. The difference is that the fictional Kickass was ennobled by failure, which, sadly, is not the kind of outcome open to the President of the United States in matters of national importance.

Obama’s mistake was to respond to the Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots of punditry. The country didn’t want Spock at the helm during environmental armageddon, they protested; the situation demanded a theatrically-appropriate response–as if the presidency was the background music to the movie of our lives, rousing in adversity, compassionate in suffering, a boom box of linguistic effects.

If style is the image of character, you cannot go from the calmest, most judicious intellectual in the room to a Schwarzenegger character in leather trousers and expect to be perceived as authentic. This is why responding to his critics was the wrong thing to do. By following their lame advice, by trying to be someone he isn’t, Obama sounded bathetic.

All of this is an object lesson in how democracy isn’t helped by the media. Just as an analysis of the Katrina response shows that it was a complex systematic failure of government and not a simple fumble by George W. Bush and “heck of a job” Brownie, the Gulf oil spill is not really in the league of a car wreck caused by distracted texting. The very intractability of the problem demands openness, an admission of complexity and a detailed description of solutions that are being pursued. And yet, according to one manufacturer of conventional wisdom, the problem was not that Obama’s White House address on the spill was too simple or vague, it was that it wasn’t simple enough. As CNN reported:

“Obama’s speech may have gone over the heads of many in his audience, according to an analysis of the 18-minute talk released Wednesday by Paul J.J. Payack, president of Global Language Monitor. Tuesday night’s speech from the Oval Office of the White House was written to a 9.8 grade level, said Payack, who gave Obama a ‘solid B.’ His Austin, Texas-based company analyzes and catalogues trends in word usage and word choice and their impact on culture.”

The president’s 19.8 words per sentence apparently “added some difficulty for his target audience.” But 19.8 words is well within the breath of television’s cutthroat culture of political sound bites, which now stands at seven seconds. Indeed, as Elvin T. Lim notes in his brilliant historical and linguistic analysis of presidential rhetoric, The Anti-Intellectual Presidency, the average presidential sentence in recent years (as defined by speeches) has ranged from 15 to 20 words, well within the assumed attention span of the presumptive television viewer.

But now, even this is apparently too difficult for most Americans to follow. It gets worse. Take the following sentence from the President’s speech, “That is why just after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation’s best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge–a team led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and our nation’s Secretary of Energy.” According to Payack, this is the kind of phrasing that makes the President seem “aloof and out of touch.” It’s too professorial, too academic and not “ordinary enough.” Perhaps the President should just have tweeted “I got smart folks fixin’ to fix the oil spill” and let everyone go back to their regular broadcast fare or communicating with each other in grunts and clicks.

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Tracking the Gulf Oil Spill Narrative


Obama vs. BP, Exxon Valdez vs. Katrina, Biblical Prophesies, etc.

The development of the Gulf Oil Spill narrative is important since he who wins control of the narrative, controls      the story in terms of political capital – for good or ill.

Austin, TX, June 02, 2010 — In an exclusive analysis by The Global Language Monitor’s NarrativeTracker™, there are now several differing story lines emerging from the Gulf Oil Spill.

The ‘narrative’ refers to the stream of public opinion captured by blogs and othersocial media outlets on the Internet, as well as the leading print and electronic databases.

The Narratives emerging from this on-going (and slow-moving) disaster include:

· Obama was Slow to Respond – 95% of the social media conversations characterize the President Obama as ‘slow to respond’.

· Obama vs. BP: who’s in charge? — 52% see BP in charge of the spill. This may or may not be a political liability. Democrats need the blame assigned to BP; at the same time, Obama needs to be seen as in overall control of the disaster.

· Worst environmental disaster ever – 42% see the current spill the worst environmental disaster ever.

· Federal Response — 57% see the Federal response using ‘poor’ or related keywords. Not a good month for the Feds; come to think of it, not a good year for the Feds.

· Katrina vs. Exxon Valdez – 61% make the comparison to the Exxon Valdez; about 39% compare the ongoing spill to the inundation of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

· Biblical Prophecies Abound Once More — About 61% of all references involve the Bible. (Even Ted Turner has a theory how the oil spill might be a warning from God.) These are markedly different in tone than those used with Katrina where the references focused on apocalyptic imagery, End-of-the-World scenarios and doom.

· The Obama Style of Leadership – This is a close one 52% see Obama as ‘hand’s on’ leadership, 48% see ‘hand’s off’. Again, this is either positive or negative depending on your political bias. Ronald Reagan was seen as a ‘hand’s off’ president and that was considered good. Jimmy Carter was a ‘hand’s on’ type president and that was considered bad.

“The development of the Gulf Oil Spill narrative is important to track since he who wins control of the narrative, controls the story in terms of political capital – for good or ill,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of GLM. “With the mid-term elections just five months away, and the prospect of the Gulf Oil Spill continuing unabated for months, control of the narrative is more important than ever.”

The rise of the narrative can render positions on the issues almost meaningless, since positions now matter less than how they fit into a particular narrative. The NarrativeTracker is more effective in capturing the true opinion of the public because it tracks unfiltered keywords in Social Media and other sources, rather than how that opinion is interpreted by the news media or by pollsters.

The term ‘narrative’ in this sense is now appearing thousands of times in the global media on the Internet and blogosphere as well as throughout the world of social media, meaning the main streams of public opinion running in the media that needs to be fed, encouraged, diverted or influenced by any means possible.

GLM recently announced The Healthcare NarrativeTracker Index™ (NTI™), in partnership with OpenConnect Systems of Dallas. The Healthcare NTI is the first product specifically designed to use social media-based monitoring to better understand the issues driving healthcare reform, providing a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic related to healthcare, at any point in time.

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



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BMW Group Award für Interkulturelles Engagement
Aktuell & Wissenswert

To read this article in German (02 27 other languages) go to our sister site, Mojofiti.

No noising, please.
Vor kurzem erzielte die englische Sprache einen Weltrekord. Mehr als eine Million Wörter umfasst das Englische nun, laut dem in Austin (Texas) ansässigen Global Language Monitor (GLM), einer Institution, die seit 1999 die Anzahl der Wörter in der englischen Sprache zählt. Zum Vergleich: Die spanische Sprache umfasst etwa 275.000 Wörter, Französisch gerade einmal 100.000.

„Englisch ist eine offene Sprache und absorbiert Wörter sehr schnell“, so der Linguist, Wortanalyst und Gründer des GLM Paul Payack. „Die Franzosen sagen nicht Computer sondern L’Ordinateur. Amerikaner haben kein Problem mit Wörtern wie ‚Kindergarten‘ oder ‚Croissant‘. Sogar ‚Ketchup‘, die Bezeichnung für ein urtypisches amerikanisches Produkt, ist eigentlich ein Wort aus dem Kantonesischen.“

Durch die weltweite Verbreitung der englischen Sprache, erst durch das britische Empire und später durch die von den USA vorangetriebene Globalisierung, hat sich die Aufnahme neuer Wörter noch beschleunigt, so Payack.

Eine noch fundamentalere Evolution erlebt die Sprache jedoch durch die Entkopplung der englischen Muttersprachler von der Verwendung „ihrer“ Sprache. „Wenn sich ein Chinese und ein Franzose unterhalten, dann höchstwahrscheinlich auf Englisch“, erklärt Payack. „Englische Muttersprachler sind daran gar nicht mehr beteiligt. Nun reden diese beiden aber natürlich kein Oxford-Englisch, sondern eine sehr regional geprägte Variante des Englischen: Der Chinese fügt vielleicht am Ende einer Frage ein typisches chinesisches Fragewort wie „ma“ ein und der Franzose benutzt französischen Satzbau.“

So entsteht beispielsweise das Phänomen des sogenannten „Chinglish“ oder „Spanglish“, Mischungen aus dem Englischen und Chinesischen oder Spanischen. Neben neuen Wörtern wie „no noising“ statt „quite please“ oder „airline pulp“ für „airline food“, entstehen so auch ganz neue Sprachstrukturen. Die pure Menge der Nichtmuttersprachler, die Englisch in ihrem täglichen Leben verwenden, ist zu einer treibenden Kraft in der Entwicklung der Sprache geworden. Dieser Prozess führt zur Entstehung einer Spielart des Englischen, die man zum Beispiel auf internationalen Tagungen oder anderen Gelegenheiten beobachten kann, bei denen viele Nichtmuttersprachler gemeinsam auf Englisch kommunizieren. „An Universitäten und in Unternehmen auf der ganzen Welt und vor allem im Internet: Überall und zu jeder Zeit wird englisch von zahllosen Nichtmuttersprachlern gesprochen. Das führt mit Sicherheit zur größten Evolution, die die englische Sprache jemals erlebt hat”, so Payack. „Auch wenn das sehr lange dauern würde, ein solcher Prozess könnte sogar zur Entstehung einer vollkommen neuen Weltsprache führen.“

Solche Szenarien, die konservative Sprachschützer in den Wahnsinn treiben würden, lassen Sprachforscher wie Paul Payack jedoch kalt. Im Gegenteil: Payack begrüßt den Wandel. „Wir haben keine Institutionen die bestimmen, so wird Englisch gesprochen und so nicht. Die englische Sprache bleibt flexibel und kann sich der Zeit anpassen. Ich denke, das ist auch besser so.“

Webseite des „Global Language Monitor“:
http://www.languagemonitor.com

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EC Multilingualism News — Can you say Eyjafjallajoekull?

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A Texas-based language expert group said Eyjafjallajoekull, the Icelandic volcano paralysing air traffic recently, appears 2 million times on Google but can be pronounced by only 320,000 people.

Eyjafjallajökull

Paul J.J. Payack, president and chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor, said Eyjafjallajoekull is unlikely to appear in English-language dictionaries anytime soon.

Did you know?

There are many examples of proper names becoming common words, including caesarian section, named after Julius Caesar, who was ‘plucked from his mother’s womb’ or saxophone after its Belgian inventor Adolphe Sax. Such words are called ‘eponyms’ and are quite common in all languages. Eyjafjallajoekull, however, is unlikely to make such a career.

The Global Language Monitor in Austin, Texas, documents, analyzes and tracks trends in language the world over, with a particular emphasis upon Global English.

Find out about the correct pronunciation of Eyjafjallajoekull and many other interesting things related to the media, words and the impact of language on various aspects of culture on the website of the Global Language Monitor.

Watch this video to polish your pronunciation of Eyjafjallajoekull.



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BBC Magazine’s Portrait of the Decade

GLM selects words from Global English that Represent the years 2000 – 2009

December 14, 2009, London.  Is it really possible to sum up a decade? With the help of thousands of readers, maybe it is. Last week, we asked for suggestions for the words, people, events, objects and cultural highlights which they thought defined the Noughties.

Our panel of five independent experts (Including GLM for Words) considered all the suggestions and have drawn up their list.  Check out the snapshot of who and what has shaped the past 10 years.

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Click here to download the BBC’s Portrait of a Decade poster



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For Immediate Release

Top 225 Colleges and Universities Ranked

by TrendTopper MediaBuzz™

Austin, TX December 8, 2009 – The Global Language Monitor today announced the immediate availability of the TrendTopper MediaBuzz College and University Rankings. Unlike other college guides, it is published twice a year, with spring and fall editions. This means that readers can make crucial decisions using information from near real time rankings. The data for the current edition is accurate as of November 1, 2009. The 73-page guide is available for download from the Global Language Monitor site.

The guide uses exclusive TrendTopper MediaBuzz™ analyses of the nation’s colleges and universities according their appearance in the global print and electronic media, on the Internet throughout the blogosphere, and including social media such as Twitter. The GLM rankings are also the first to include specialty schools, such as Art, Business, Music and Engineering schools, as well as online universities.

“TrendTopper MediaBuzz Rankings remove all bias that we saw as inherent in each of the other published rankings, be they peer assessments, the opinion of high school guidance counselors, the ratio of endowment to number of students, number of left or right-leaning professors, and all the rest,” said Paul JJ Payack, the president of Global Language Monitor. “The TrendTopper MediaBuzz Rankings are a way of seeing the schools through the eyes of the world at large. As with any brand, 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.”

Institutions are ranked by overall presence, and how quickly they are moving over the short and long-term. In addition, the study reveals the actual scores that separate the Top 225 Colleges and Universities from one another. In addition, the schools are ranked by their position in their state.

Many institutions of higher education, including Harvard, Boston College, and Vanderbilt have used the rankings as a validation of their recent reputation management decisions.

Since TrendTopper MediaBuzz ranks overall media awareness and strength of a school’s ‘brand’ or reputation, the Global Language Monitor included specialty schools, which were included in the College category with the exception of the online universities, which was assigned to the University category.

In the University category, the University of Michigan moved up three places to the top spot, while Harvard saw a decline in Media Buzz citations of some 20%. Other major movers include MIT jumping from No. 16 to No. 2 and North Carolina, another public ivy, movinginto the Top Ten, with California—Berkeley moving from No.10 to No. 6.

In the College category, Wellesley overtook Colorado College, Williams and Amherst to claim the No. 1 position, a first for a women’s college. Pomona College, one of California’s Claremont Colleges re-emerged in the Top Ten, and Eugene Lang College of New School University debuted at a very strong No. 9.

The Top Specialty schools listed in their categories as well as overall rank are listed below.

• Top Business school was Babson College was the Top Business (67 overall, college).

• Top Art and Design schools were Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) (27 overall, college), Pratt Institute (28 overall, college), and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (47 overall, college).

• Top Engineering school was The Cooper Union (38 overall, college).

• Top Music Schools were the Julliard School (50 overall, college), the New England Conservatory of Music (96 overall, college), and Berklee College (99 overall, college).

• Top Online/For Profit University was the University of Phoenix, USA (37 overall, university).

• Top Christian was Wheaton College, IL (16 overall, college),

• Top Military Academies were the United States Naval Academy (20 overall, college), the United States Military Academy (48 overall, college) and the United States Air Force Academy (61 overall, college).

The 73-page guide is available for download from the Global Language Monitor site. The cost is $29.95.

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.

English has become the first truly global language with some 1.53 billion speakers as a first, second or auxiliary language. Paul JJ Payack examines its impact on the world economy, culture and society in A Million Words and Counting (Citadel Press, New York, 2009).

The current estimate for the number of words in the English Language stands at 1,002,116.

For more information, call 1.925.367.7557, send email to info@LanguageMonitor.com, or visit www.LanguageMonitor.com.

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Top News of Decade: Rise of China Surpasses Iraq War and 9/11

Austin, TX December 9, 2009 – In an exclusive analysis performed by the Global Language Monitor, the Rise of China has been determined to be the Top News Story of the Decade followed by the Iraq War, the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, the War on Terror, and the Death of Michael Jackson. Completing the Top Ten were the Election of Obama to US presidency, the Global Recession of 2008/2009, Hurricane Katrina, the War in Afghanistan, and the onset of the Financial Tsunami/Economic Meltdown. Rounding out the list were the Beijing Olympics, the South Asian Tsunami, the War against the Taliban, the Death of Pope John Paul II, and Osama bin-Laden eludes capture.

Chinese pundits saw GLM’s analysis “was partly aimed at trumpeting the so-called China threat.  The list is the latest sign of the US media’s change from China bashing to China flattery.”  Read how the story unfolded below.

The Original story in Beijing’s People’s Daily

The criticism from China Daily, the official government paper:  The Rise of the Dragon

The follow-up report from Wall Street Journal’s Beijing bureau

The Financial Times’ take on the debate

Chinese Economic Review:  The Hard Bigotry of Too-high Expectations

People’s Daily:  Chinese Ambassador to the UK summarizes China’s position

The methodology: The analysis factored in the number of citations over the course of the decade on the Internet, the blogosphere, including social media, as well as the top 50,000 print and electronic media sites.

“The rise of China to new economic heights has changed – and continues to challenge – the current international order,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “It is with little surprise that its ongoing transformation has topped all other news stories in a decade bespotted by war, economic catastrophe, and natural disasters.”

Read Ben MacIntyre it in the Sunday Times (London):  Words that define the Noughties

Rank/News Story/Comment

1. Rise of China – The biggest story of the decade, outdistancing the No. 2 Internet story by 400%.

2. Iraq War — The buildup, the invasion, the hunt for the WMDs, and the Surge were top in print and electronic media outlets.

3. 9/11 Terrorist Attacks – The 9/11 Terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, DC seemed to set the tone for the new decade.

4. War on Terror – President George W. Bush’s response to 9/11.

5. Death of Michael Jackson – A remarkably high ranking considering that MJ’s death occurred in the final year of the decade.

6. Election of Obama to US presidency – The rallying cries of ‘hope’ and ‘Yes, we can!’ resulting in the historic election of an African-American to the US presidency.

7. Global Recession of 2008/9 – The on-going world economic restructuring as opposed to the initial ‘economic meltdown’ or ‘financial tsunami’.

8. Hurricane Katrina — New Orleans was devastated when the levies collapsed; scenes of death and destruction shocked millions the world over.

9. War in Afghanistan – Now in its eighth year with an expansion into neighboring Pakistan.

10. Economic Meltdown/Financial Tsunami – The initial shock of witnessing some 25% of the world’s wealth melting away seemingly overnight.

11. Beijing Olympics – The formal launch of China onto the world stage.

12. South Asian Tsunami – The horror of 230,000 dead or missing, washed away in a matter of minutes was seared into the consciousness the global community.

13. War against the Taliban – Lands controlled by the Taliban served as a safe haven from which al Qaeda would launch its terrorist attacks.

14. Death of Pope John Paul II – The largest funeral in recent memory with some 2,000,000 pilgrims in attendance.

15. Osama bin-Laden eludes capture – Hesitation to attack Tora Bora in 2002 has led to the continuing manhunt.

This analysis was completed on December 1, 2009 using GLM’s Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI), the proprietary algorithm that tracks words and phrases in the media and on the Internet, now including blogs and social media. The words are tracked in relation to frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets, factoring in long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum and velocity.

The Global Language Monitor has recently named the Top Words of the Decade. They were Global Warming, 9/11, Obama, Bailout, Evacuee, and Derivative; Google, Surge, Chinglish, and Tsunami followed. “Climate Change” was top phrase; “Heroes” was top name.

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Top Word of 2009: Twitter


Followed by Obama, H1N1, Stimulus, and Vampire

“King of Pop” is Top Phrase; “Obama” is top name

Austin, TX November 29, 2009 – The Global Language Monitor has announced that Twitter is the Top Word of 2009 in its annual global survey of the English language.  Twittered was followed by Obama, H1N1, Stimulus, and Vampire. The near-ubiquitous suffix, 2.0, was No. 6, with Deficit, Hadron the object of study of CERN’s new atom smasher, Healthcare, and Transparency rounded out the Top 10.

“In a year dominated by world-shaking political events, a pandemic, the after effects of a financial tsunami and the death of a revered pop icon, the word Twitter stands above all the other words.  Twitter represents a new form of social interaction, where all communication is reduced to 140 characters,” said Paul JJ Payack, President of The Global Language Monitor.  “Being limited to strict formats did wonders for the sonnet and haiku.  One wonders where this highly impractical word-limit will lead as the future unfolds.”

Read about it in the Guardian:  Twitter declared top word of 2009

WHY twitter is the most popular word of 2009 at the Huffington Post

CNET’s Don Reisinger on twitter

Mashable’s take: what else does social media have to conquer?

What it means that twitter is the 2009 Word of the Year (WeberShandwick)

The Poetry of Social Networks

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

The Top Words of 2009

Rank/Word/Comments

1.         Twitter — The ability to encapsulate human thought in 140 characters

2.         Obama — The word stem transforms into scores of new words like ObamaCare

3.         H1N1 — The formal (and politically correct) name for Swine Flu

4.         Stimulus — The $800 billion aid package meant to help mend the US economy

5.         Vampire — Vampires are very much en vogue, now the symbol of unrequited love

6.         2.0 — The 2.0 suffix is attached to the next generation of everything

7.         Deficit — Lessons from history are dire warnings here

8.         Hadron — Ephemeral particles subject to collision in the Large Hadron Collider

9.         Healthcare — The direction of which is the subject of intense debate in the US

10.        Transparency — Elusive goal for which many 21st c. governments are striving

11.        Outrage — In response to large bonuses handed out to ‘bailed-out’ companies

12.        Bonus — The incentive pay packages that came to symbolize greed and excess

13.        Unemployed — And underemployed amount to close to 20% of US workforce

14.        Foreclosure — Forced eviction for not keeping up with the mortgage payments

15.        Cartel — In Mexico, at the center of the battle over drug trafficking

The Top Phrases of 2009

Rank/Phrase/Comments

1.         King of Pop –Elvis was ‘The King;’ MJ had to settle for ‘King of Pop’

2.         Obama-mania — One of the scores of words from the Obama-word stem

3.         Climate Change — Considered politically neutral compared to global warming

4.         Swine Flu — Popular name for the illness caused by the H1N1 virus

5.         Too Large to Fail — Institutions that are deemed necessary for financial stability

6.         Cloud Computing — Using the Internet for a variety of computer services

7.         Public Option — The ability to buy health insurance from a government entity

8.         Jai Ho! — A Hindi shout of joy or accomplishment

9.         Mayan Calendar — Consists of various ‘cycles,’ one of which ends on 12/21/2012

10.       God Particle — The hadron, believed to hold the secrets of the Big Bang

The Top Names of 2009

Rank/Name/Comments

1.         Barack Obama — It was Obama’s year, though MJ nearly eclipsed in the end

2.         Michael Jackson — Eclipses Obama on internet though lags in traditional media

3.         Mobama — Mrs. Obama, sometimes as a fashion Icon

4.         Large Hadron Collider — The Trillion dollar ‘aton smasher’ buried outside Geneva

5.         Neda Agha Sultan — Iranian woman killed in the post-election demonstrations

6.         Nancy Pelosi –The Democratic Speaker of the US House

7.         M.  Ahmadinejad — The president of Iran, once again

8.         Hamid Karzai — The winner of Afghanistan’s disputed election

9.         Rahm Emmanuel — Bringing ‘Chicago-style politics’ to the Administration

10.       Sonia Sotomayor — The first Hispanic woman on the US Supreme Court

The analysis was completed in late November using GLM’s Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI), the proprietary algorithm that tracks words and phrases in the media and on the Internet, now including blogs and social media. The words are tracked in relation to frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets, factoring in long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum and velocity.

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

For Previous Words of the Year, go here.



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Top Words of the Decade (2000-2009)

“Global Warming,” “9/11″ and “Obama” are Top Words,

“Climate Change” is top phrase,

“Heroes” is top name

Austin, TX November 19, 2009 – The Global Language Monitor has announced the Top Words of the Decade, as part of its annual global survey of the English language. The Top Words were ‘Global Warming’, 9/11, and Obama followed by Bailout, Evacuee, and Derivative; Google, Surge, Chinglish, and Tsunami followed. “Climate Change” was the top phrase, while “Heroes” was the top name; bin-Laden was No. 2.

Read the the story in the London Telegraph

“Looking at the first decade of the 21st century in words is a sober, even somber, event.” said Paul JJ Payack, President of The Global Language Monitor. “For a decade that began with such joy and hope, the words chosen depict a far more complicated and in many ways, tragic time. Nevertheless, signs of hope and renewal can be found in the overall lists.”

The words are culled from throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.58 billion speakers. Since GLM’s survey encompassed the years 2000 – 2009, the expanded lists included 25 Top Words, and 20 Top Phrases and 20 Top Names.

To see the Top Words of the individual years of the 21st century, go here.

Each List contains the word, phrase or name in numerical order and the year when the word, phrase or name came to prominence. For example, the word ‘quagmire’ is hundreds of years old but it came into renewed prominence in 2004, about a year after the beginning of the Iraq War.

The Top Words of the Decade from 2000 – 2009

Word (Year) Comments

1. Global Warming (2000) Rated highly from Day One of the decade

2. 9/11 (2001) Another inauspicious start to the decade

3. Obama- (2008 )The US President’s name as a ‘root’ word or ‘word stem’

4. Bailout (2008) The Bank Bailout was but Act One of the crisis

5. Evacuee/refugee (2005) After Katrina, refugees became evacuees

6. Derivative (2007) Financial instrument or analytical tool that engendered the Meltdown

7. Google (2007) Founders misspelled actual word ‘googol’

8. Surge (2007) The strategy that effectively ended the Iraq War

9. Chinglish (2005) The Chinese-English Hybrid language growing larger as Chinese influence expands

10. Tsunami (2004) Southeast Asian Tsunami took 250,000 lives

11. H1N1 (2009) More commonly known as Swine Flu

12. Subprime ( 2007) Subprime mortgages were another bubble to burst

13. dot.com (2000) The Dot.com bubble engendered no lifelines, no bailouts

14. Y2K ( 2000) The Year 2000:  all computers would turn to pumpkins at the strike of midnight

15. Misunderestimate (2002) One of the first and most enduring of Bushisms

16. Chad ( 2000) Those Florida voter punch card fragments that the presidency would turn aupon

17. Twitter (2008 ) A quarter of a billion references on Google

18. WMD (2002) Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction

19. Blog (2003) First called ‘web logs’ which contracted into blogs

20. Texting (2004) Sending 140 character text messages over cell phones

21. Slumdog (2008) Child inhabitants of Mumba’s slums

22. Sustainable (2006) The key to ‘Green’ living where natural resources are never depleted

23. Brokeback (2004)   New term for ‘gay’ from he Hollywood film ‘Brokeback Mountain’

24. Quagmire (2004) Would Iraq War end up like Vietnam, another ‘quagmire’?

25. Truthiness (2006) Steven Colbert’s addition to the language appears to be a keeper

Also worth noting:  ‘Embedded’ (2003) to embed reporters with US Troops

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The Top Phrases of the Decade from 2000 – 2009

Word (Year) Comments

1. Climate Change (2000) Green words in every form   dominant the decade

2. Financial Tsunami (2008) One quarter of the world’s wealth vanishes seemingly overnight

3. Ground Zero (2001) Site of 9/11terrorist attack in New York City

4. War on Terror (2001)  Bush administration’s response to 9/11

5. Weapons of Mass Destruction (2003)  Bush’s WMDs never found in Iraq or the Syrian desert

6. Swine Flu (2008) H1N1, please, so as not to offend the pork industry or religious sensitivities!

7. “Let’s Roll!” (2001)  Todd Beamer’s last words before Flight 93 crashed into the PA countryside

8. Red State/Blue State (2004) Republican or Democratic control of states

9. Carbon footprint (2007) How much CO² does an activity produce?

10. Shock-and-awe (2003) Initial strategy of Iraq War

11. Ponzi Scheme (2009) Madoff’s strategy reaped billions & heartache

12. Category Four (2005) Force of Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans’ seawalls and levies

13. King of Pop (2000)  Elvis was the King, MJ the King (of Pop)

14. “Stay the Course” (2004) Dubya’s off-stated guidance for Iraq War

15. “Yes, we can!” (2008)   Obama’s winning campaign slogan

16. “Jai Ho!” (2008)  Shout of joy from ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

17. “Out of the Mainstream” (2003) Complaint about any opposition’s political platform

18. Cloud computing (2007)  Using the Internet as a large computational device

19. Threat Fatigue (2004)   One too many terrorist threat alerts

20. Same-sex marriage (2003) Marriage of gay couples

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The Top Names of the Decade from 2000 – 2009

Name (Year) Comments

1. Heroes (2001)   Emergency responders who rushed into the Towers

2. bin Laden (2001) His Capture still top of mind for US Military

3. Ground Zero (2001) NY Times still will not capitalize the site as a formal name

4. Dubya (2000) George W. Bush, US President No. 43

5. The Clintons (Hillary & Bill) (2000) Looming on political landscape, though not as large

6. John Paul II (2000)   Largest funeral in TV history attested to power

7. Obama (2008) Making an impact as the decade ends

8. Taliban (2000)   Still the source of Afghan insurgency

9. Katrina (2004) Hurricane whose destruction of New Orleans is seared into minds around globe

10. Tiger Woods (2000) Top golfer earned about $1 Billion this decade

11. iPhone (2007)   First product on this list

12. Paul Hewson (Bono) (2000) U2 Front man, NY Times Columnist, catalyst for African relief

13. Michael Jackson (2000) The King of Pop

14. Al Gore (2000) Nobel Prize winner, US Vice President, Climate Change purveyor

15. Saddham Hussein (2000) Iraqi dictator captured while hiding in a ‘spider hole’

16. Enron (2001)   Seems like another era since this giant fell

17. Bollywood (2000)   Mumbai’s answer to Hollywood

18. Facebook (2007) Another ubiquitous software product

19. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005) Iranian president since 2005

20. Vladimir Putin (2000) Russian leader since 2000

Also worth noting:  ’Wikipedia’ (2006) The user-generated compendium of all knowledge

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The analysis was completed on November 16th using GLM’s Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI), the proprietary algorithm that tracks words and phrases in the media and on the Internet, now including blogs and social media (such as Twitter). The words are tracked in relation to frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets, factoring in long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum and velocity.

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