Earth Day Legacy: 28 Words that Changed the World

Since 1970 a whole new vocabulary has entered the English Language.  

 

New Words and New ‘Senses’ of Old Words


Austin, Texas, April 22, 2013.  Since the first Earth Day was celebrated as en ‘environmental teach-in’ on April 22, 1970 a whole new vocabulary has entered the English Language.   The Global Language Monitor has determined the top new words and new ‘senses’ of old words that have been engendered  since that first Earth Day in 1970.  The words are ranked by order of present-day usage in the English-speaking world.  The study was completed the second week of April 2013.


“The English language is certainly not immune by the changes wrought by Earth Day and the environmental movement,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of GLM. “Especially since the  the environmental movement continues to have an evermore profound effect on global culture.”

The words analyzed are but the most profound examples of a movement that has been gaining momentum at least since the 1960s.

GLM used their Narrative Tracker methodologies to determine and rank the Earth Day words.  The criteria included determining which words have had an impact on the environmental movement and/or were influential in its growth.  

The Top Words Engendered by Earth Day and the Environmental Movement since 1970 are listed below.

Rank/Word/Last Year’s Rank/Definition    

1.  Green (1) — Practices that are in harmony with the environment.

2.  Renewable energy (2) — Energy derived from solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and similar ‘sustainable’ sources.

3.  Sustainable (3) — The ability to create self-replicating systems that can persist over time.  Sustainable was GLM’s word of the year in 2006.

4.  Climate change (4) — Favored by those who think the warming of the planet is primarily dues to long-term atmospheric cycles.

5.  Eco- (as a prefix) (5) — Shorthand for ‘ecological’; from the Greek ‘oikos’ for house (or table).  

6.  Emissions (6) —  In this sense, gases and particles sent out into the atmosphere through industrial production, automobiles, etc.; from the Late Latin emittere, to send out of.  

7.  Ecology (7) — the relations of beings to each other and their environment; from the Greek ‘oikos’ for house (or table).  

8.  Recycle (8) — The re-using of materials once viewed as waste.  

9.  Vegan (9) — Those who abstain from eating animal or dairy products, often avoiding any products made from animals (such as leather or gelatin); coined in 1944 in the UK by Donald Watson. 

10.  Locavore (new) — Thinking globally while eating locally.

11.  Global warming (10) — Favored by those who think the warming of the planet is primarily due to human influence.  (Compare Climate  Change, above).

12.  Solar power (11)  – Energy derived by harnessing the sun’s electromagnetic radiation. 

13.  Biomass (12) — Material derived from plants that can be used as a renewable energy source.

14.  Xeriscape (new) — Literally ‘dry landscaping’; using natural elements in a desert landscape for yard enhancement.   Begging the question:  must every yard resemble an English Manor?

15.  Biodegradable (13) — Organic material that decays naturally in a relatively short time.  

16.  Greenhouse gas (GHG) (14) — Any gas emitted into the atmosphere that trap heat (e.g., CO2); without them the Earth would be uninhabitable for humans; with an excess the Earth would be uninhabitable for humans. 

17.  Wind power (15) — Energy derived by harnessing the wind. The top countries for generating electricity from wind power are the US, China, Germany and Spain. 

18.  Organic food (16) — Food grown or produced without synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, hormones, irradiation and genetic modification.  

19.  Carbon footprint (17) — The total amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generate by a human activity.  Driving a late-model, fuel-efficient car emits about 6 pounds of CO2 every ten miles.  Term first used in 1980.   Alternative definition – Your life reduced to the a series of equations on energy (carbon) consumption.

20.  Post-consumer (waste) (18) — Material that can be used as a resource to build new products.   

21.  Natural (food) (19) – Food grown with without artificial ingredients (such as color)  and produced in a manner similar to that used in a well-stocked home kitchen.  

22.  Hybrid (car) (20) – Cars that use a mixture of technologies to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.  

23.  Greenhouse Effect (21) – The heating of the Earth’s surface in a fashion similar to a greenhouse, with GHG acting as glass windows that trap heat.  The result of the increased emission of CO2 and other GHGs.  

24.  Biofuels (new) — Finally, we are reaching a break-even point with sugar based biofuels in Brazil.

25.  Greenwash (22) — Highlighting aspects of a product that may or appear to be favorable to the environment in order to re-shape its brand image.

26.  Carbon trading (23) — Trading, in effect, the rights to pollute between different manufacturers in the global marketplace.

27.  Free-range (24) — The animal has been raised with access to the outside; not the same as ‘free roaming’.

28.  Save a Tree! (25) – One of the first rallying cries of the Environmental Movement.  Unfortunately, replacing a renewable resource with one made of petroleum created ecological problems of its own. 

 

For this analysis, the Global Language Monitor collected data from the Internet, blogosphere, the top 175,000 print and electronic media, as well as new social media as they emerge.  

 About Global Language Monitor

Austin-based Global Language Monitor is the pioneer in web-based media analytics.  Founded in Silicon Valley, GLM collectively documents, analyzes and tracks trends in language usage worldwide, with a particular emphasis upon the English language.

 

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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.
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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.

Read More



Most Confusing High Tech Buzzwords of 2000-2009

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

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

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

The Global Language Monitor uses a proprietary algorithm, the Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI) to track the frequency of words and phrases in the global print and electronic media, on the Internet, throughout the Blogosphere, as well as accessing proprietary databases. The PQI is a weighted Index, factoring in: long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum, and velocity.

The Most Confusing High Tech Buzzwords of the decade (2000-2009) with Commentary follow:

1. HTTP — HyperText Transfer Protocol is used for HTML (HyperText Markup Language) files. Not to be confused with text on too much Starbucks.

2. Flash — As in Flash Memory. “Flash’ is easier to say than “ I brought the report on my EEPROM chip with a thin oxide layer separating a floating gate and control gate utilizing Fowler-Nordheim electron tunneling”.

3. God Particle – The Higgs boson, thought to account for mass. The God Particle has eluded discovery since its existence was first postulated some thirty years ago.

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

5. Plasma (as in plasma TV) — Refers less often to blood products than to a kind of television screen technology that uses matrix of gas plasma cells, which are charged by differing electrical voltages to create an image.

6. IPOD – What the Alpha Whale calls his personal pod. Actually, Apple maintains that the idea of the iPod was from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The origin of the word IPAD is a completely different story.

7. Megapixel – Either a really large picture element (pixel) or a whole mess of pixels. Actually, one million pixels (that’s a lotta pixels) OK, what’s a pixel? Computer-ese for picture element.

8. Nano – Widely used to describe anything small as in nanotechnology. Like the word ‘mini’ which originally referred to the red hues in Italian miniature paintings, the word nano- is ultimately derived from the ancient Greek word for ‘dwarf’.

9. Resonate – Not the tendency of a system to oscillate at maximum amplitude, but the ability to relate to (or resonate with) a customer’s desires.

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

11. Solution — Ever popular yet still an amorphous description of high tech packages of hardware, software and service

12. Cookie — Without cookies with their ‘persistent state’ management mechanism the web as we know it, would cease to exist.

13. Robust — No one quite knows what it means, but it’s good for your product to demonstrate robustness

14. Emoticon A smiley with an emotional component (from emotional icon). Now, what’s a smiley? :’)

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

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

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

18. Petaflop — A thousand trillion (or quadrillion) floating point operations per second Often mistaken as a comment on a failed program by an animal rights’ group.

19. Hadron – A particle made of quarks bound together by the strong force; they are either mesons (made of one quark and one anti-quark) or baryons (made of three quarks).

20. Large Hadron Collider – The ‘atom smasher’ located underground outside Geneva. Primarily built to re-create the conditions of creation, 1 trillionth of a second after the Big Bang.

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

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

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

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

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

Most Confusing High Tech Acronym of the Decade

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

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

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



Green Words

google news comment

Why A Green Word was chosen as The Global Language Monitor Word of the Year – Google News Comment Dec 13, 2007

The Global Language Monitor began naming the Word of the Year early in this decade, arguably the first organization to do so through our predecessor site in 2000. Remember the word ‘Chad?’

Since then it has become an increasingly competitive enterprise, as Merriam-Webster, the New Oxford American Dictionary, Webster’s New World and others have begun the practice.

We, of course, are honored by the competition.

There are two distinctions with the Global Language Monitor’s approach:

1. The words are ranked by a proprietary algorithm, the Predictive Quantities Indicator(tm) or PQI, and not by opinion or majority vote of editors, readers, or the public.

2. The words are chosen from the entire English-speaking community, what we call Global English, that now has approximately 1.35 Billion speakers (up from 250 million in 1960.) The words on GLM’s 2007 list include those from China, India, and Singapore.

The theory behind the PQI was to eliminate any statistical or personal bias in the choice, So while we are tracking words such as w00t (and actually have a section on L33t-speak in an upcoming book), we found it just did not to have the numerical weight as the words that rose to the top of GLM’s 2007 list. (While intresting, w00t was surpassed by more than a 500:1 ratio.)

Hybrid was chosen as a non-biased, non-politicized, representation of all things green. You don’t need the PQI to tell you that words and phrases such as climate change, global warming, planetary peril, biodiesel, green in this context, and hybrid all come up tens of millions of times in a simple Google search. (The PQI tracks momentum, direction, year-over-year changes, as well as several other indicators, and produces a statistically normalized result.)

My personal preference for WOTY was the word surge (the Iraq War and political strategy), which actually led our analysis throughout the year until the hybrid-related words surged past surge in our final analysis.

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