Pundits jumped on Sarah Palin when she recently tweeted that people should “refudiate” plans for a New York City mosque near Ground Zero.
“Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate,” Palin tweeted.
The tweet was quickly deleted, and refute replaced refudiate, but the clips of Palin using the word on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show have not gone away. Nor has the flap over how the former governor and vice presidential candidate let her linguistic slip show.
Still, while Palin is no Shakespeare — a famous coiner of words — it may be wrong to misunderestimate refudiate too quickly.
“In English, the tradition is words bubble up from the people,” said Paul J.J. Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor in Austin. “If it’s used, it’s accepted as a word.”
George W. Bush’s notorious use of misunderestimate is a good example of how what’s called a portmanteau word can find acceptance.
Like an old-fashioned portmanteau traveling case that opens into two compartments like a book, portmanteau words such as refudiate combine two other words in form and meaning. [Read More.]
It’s hard to refudiate that we lost one of our great TV journalists and guardians of the language with the recent death of NBC’s Edwin Newman.
In fact, it’s impossible to refudiate – because “refudiate” isn’t a word.
We imagine that Newman, who displayed a strong sense of humor in his TV commentaries, writings and appearances on David Letterman’s old morning show and “Saturday Night Live,” might have gotten a rueful chuckle out of Sarah Palin’s tweeted mash-up of “refute” and “repudiate.”
Newman, whose death at age 91 was reported Wednesday, famously asked in “Strictly Speaking,” his 1974 bestseller on the state of language, “Will America be the death of English?”
GLM Comment: In fact the exact opposite has occurred — American English has spurred the English to a new level, from Old English, to Middle English, to Modern English to what might be deemed, in contemporary fashion, English 2.0.
Recent evidence doesn’t bode well for the mother tongue. The folks at Merriam-Webster this month named “refudiate” the Word of the Summer – and reported that the non-word spurred many searches on its online dictionary.
Meanwhile, The Global Language Monitor last week released its annual list of the popular “telewords” (which isn’t really a word itself). Placing No. 3 on the group’s “Top Words from Television” list for the 2009-2010 TV season was “guido.”
That anti-Italian slur became a catchword, thanks to the cast of “Jersey Shore” – a place, at least on MTV, where young people foolishly acting out stereotypes are celebrated and rewarded. (In other signs of the times, The Monitor’s top two entries were “BP Spillcam” and “dysfunctional.”) [Read More.]
With less than two months to go until the November midterm elections, a clear winner is beginning to emerge in the race to declare the year’s biggest political buzzword.
Hey, buzzwords matter. Who could forget — no matter how much we might like to – such hits from years past as “chad,” “Swift Boat” and “lipstick” as it might be smeared on a pig or a pitbull?
On Tuesday, the website Global Language Monitor, based in Austin, which has been monitoring words on thousands of news, blogs and social network sites since 2003, announced the No. 1 political buzzword so far this year – beating out “climate change,” “Obama Muslim,” “lower taxes” and even “tea partiers” – is (drum roll please) “the narrative.”
The Narrative? “It’s been running strong since last spring,” GLM President Paul J.J. Payack told me in a telephone interview.
That confirmed my suspicion. I don’t even have a computerized algorithm like Payack does, but I, too, had begun to notice in my fanatical surfing of political media that the word “narrative” was popping up with increasing frequency.
For example, Steve and Cokie Roberts observed in a recent column, “For a growing number of Americans, President Barack Obama’s narrative no longer defines who he is.”
Columnist Maureen Dowd similarly wondered back in June how such a gifted storyteller as Obama could “lose control of his own narrative.”
E.J. Dionne, writing in The New Republic, notes Obama has decided to “confront a deeply embedded media narrative that sees a Republican triumph as all but inevitable.”
In fact, “narrative” was popping up so much in reference to Obama as he grappled with crises like the Gulf oil spill that a Washington Post reporter was inspired to lead one feature with, “Sing to me of the Obama narrative, Muse.” [Read More.]
Miami leads Rio, Barcelona, Sydney & Bali in Swimwear
Austin, Texas. August 16, 2010 New York, Hong Kong, London, Sydney, Sao Paulo, Moscow, Dubai, Mumbai were announced as the Top Fashion Capitals by their respective regions in the Global Language Monitor’s annual analysis. Earlier GLM announced that New York had regained the title of World Fashion Capital of 2010, after being bested by Milan in 2009. In addition, GLM announced that Miami beat Rio, Barcelona, Melbourne & Bali in the Swimwear category.
“The importance of the emerging regional fashion capitals demonstrate a major global re-alignment in the multi-trillion dollar global fashion industry,” said Bekka Payack, the Manhattan-based fashion correspondent for the Global Language Monitor. “The success of Fashion Night Out is but another example of the proliferation of the fashion culture worldwide.”
.Tour the Top 22 Fashion Capitals of Four Seasons
The Top Fashion Capitals by Region along with their place in the entire ranking are listed below.
Region, Fashion Capital, Overall Ranking
Hong Kong (2),
Australia and Oceania:
New York (1),
Los Angeles (5),
Las Vegas (16),
(San Francisco) nominated
New Delhi (30)
Sao Paulo (13),
Rio de Janeiro (19),
Buenos Aires (24),
Mexico City (29)
Middle and Eastern Europe:
Middle East and Africa:
Cape Town (23),
The Fashion Capitals for Swimwear along with their place in the entire ranking are listed below.
Swimwear Fashion Capital Rank, Overall Ranking
Rio de Janeiro (19)
These exclusive rankings are 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. The words and phrases are tracked in relation to their frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets.
In 2010, the Top Fashion Capitals List was expanded to forty from thirty to reflect the various emerging and diverse players affecting the industry.
Austin, TX July 12, 2010 – The World Cup 2010 was an historical affair in many regards, the a first for the African continent; a first for the South African people and, of course, a first for Spain.
Another perhaps unintended consequence of World Cup 2010 is the acceptance of the word, vuvuzela, into the English language lexicon according to the qualifying criteria established by Austin-based Global Language Monitor.
The vuvuzela are the seemingly ubiquitous brightly colored plastic horns, said to have the potential to inflict lasting hearing loss because of the loudness and pitch of a typical vuvuzela (B flat below middle C, according to the BBC).
“Vuvuzela appears certain to achieve a place (or at least some notoriety) within the ranks of the English language. Vuvuzela has already appeared some 2450 times in a recent search of the New York Times archive,” said Paul JJ Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor. “That is quick a few citations for the ‘first draft of history; even a quick Google search yield over 6,000,000 hits on the term.”
The thresholds to cross into the English Lexicon include 25,000 citations meeting criteria for breadth of geographic dispersion along within a depth of media formats including the Internet, blogosphere and social media along with various formats of print and electronic media. Since 2003, the Global Language Monitor has been recognizing new words or neologisms once they meet these criteria.
The word vuvuzela, itself of uncertain origin. Some think it is related to the summoning horn, the kudu, for African villages. Others speculate it to be derived from an onomatopoeic Zulu word for the sound ‘vu-vu’, or a word for noise making, while many believe it to be ‘township slang’ for shower (of noise).
English gets a new word – thanks to SA
Jul 18, 2010 12:00 AM | By Sashni Pather
The World Cup was historic in a few ways: a first for the African continent, South Africa’s people and for Spain.
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice. For information on how to listen to audio on our website, click here.
Air Date: Week of July 2, 2010
The BP oil disaster is a failure of technology and lexicology. The words that we use to describe the Gulf of Mexico disaster don’t begin to define the scope of the catastrophe. Is it a spill? A gusher? Host Jeff Young tracks the flow of words with Paul Payak from the Global Language Monitor.
YOUNG: Millions – maybe billions – of words have been written about BP’s runaway oil well. Yet words still fail us—we still lack the right term for what’s happening in the Gulf. So we turn to Paul JJ Payack for guidance. He’s President of the Global Language Monitor in Austin, Texas, where he tracks changes in the language, including the words most often used to describe the oil in the Gulf.PAYACK: Overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly, the top word is oil spill, which is sort of a disappointment. Many times when you have new events in a language, the language leads the event. You can actually… there are new words that pop up in profusion.YOUNG: Uh huh.
PAYACK: And, in this case, we haven’t seen that many new words. What we’ve seen is the old way to describe an oil spill. The Exxon Valdez has a crash, spills the oil out, and that’s a spill. But this is different; this is a lot different than a spill.
YOUNG: Because a spill connotes a fixed amount that spilled from a container into where you don’t want it. That’s not what’s happening here at all.
PAYACK: In our case, we’re not talking about a spill, we’re talking about an oil field that’s estimated at 3, 4, 5 billion barrels erupting, but we still refer to it as a spill.
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.
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.
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.“
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.
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.