Top Words of 2011, ‘Occupy’ is 2011 Word of the Year

Occupy is the Top Word of the Year,

Arab Spring is the Top Phrase of the Year and

Steve Jobs is the Top Name of the Year

Global Language Monitor’s 12th Annual Survey of Global English

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AUSTIN, Texas  December 6, 2011 (Updated from November 10) — The Global Language Monitor has announced that ‘Occupy’ is the Top Word, ‘Arab Spring’ the Top Phrase and ‘Steve Jobs’ the Top Name of 2011 in its annual global survey of the English language. Occupy was followed by deficit, fracking, drone, and non-veg. Kummerspeck, haboob, 3Q, Trustafarians, and (the other) 99 rounded out the Top 10.

“Our selections this year, to a large extent, reflect the ongoing political and economic uncertainty that seems to be affecting much of the developed world – with notable exceptions such as the Royal wedding and the continuing rise of China ,” said Paul JJ Payack, President of the Global Language Monitor.

“Our top words, phrases and names this year come from five continents… confirmation of the ever-expanding influence of the English language.

“The words are culled from throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.58 billion speakers. The Global Language Monitor’s Word of the Year rankings are based upon actual word usage in the English speaking world.

“In global English, words are not bestowed upon, agreed upon, or voted upon by cultural or academic elites but, rather, words are defined from the bottom up, that is, by the people themselves — and this is true whether in the East End of London, or south-central LA, the projects in Brooklyn, the slums of Kingston, the call centers of Mumbai, the streets of Singapore, the text messages out of Shanghai, or the fashion districts of Sydney.”

GLM employs its NarrativeTracker technologies for global Internet and social media analysis. NarrativeTracker is based on global discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture about any topic, at any point in time. NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the top 75,000 print and electronic global media, as well as new social media sources.

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See the Photo Essay from the Toronto Star

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BBC Magazine: The rich: Exactly what does that mean?

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.2011, l’année Steve Jobs?

(Time Person of the Year?)



Nunberg also selects ‘occupy’ as the 2011 Word of the Year

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The Top Words of 2011

Rank / Word / Comments

1. Occupy – ‘Occupy’ has risen to pre-eminence through Occupy Movement, the occupation of Iraq, and the so-called ‘Occupied Territories’.   (Also named by NPR and Time.)

2. Deficit – Growing and possibly intractable problem for the economies of the developed world.

3. Fracking – Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial method for extracting fossil fuels from hitherto unreachable deposits.

4. Drone – The ever increasing number of remotely piloted aircraft used for reconnaissance and attack purposes.

5. Non-veg – A meal served with meat, originally from India, now catching on worldwide.

6. Kummerspeck – From the German seeing wider acceptance in the English, excess weight gained from emotional overeating (grief bacon).

See the Photo Essay from The Stylist (UK)

7. Haboob – A name imported from the Arabic for massive sandstorms in the American Southwest.

8. 3Q – Near universal term for ‘thank you’ now earning additional status after being banned from official Chinese dictionaries. Another example of the ever- increasing mixing of numbers and letters to form words.

9. Trustafarians – Well-to-do youth (trust-funders) living a faux-Bohemian life style, now associated with the London Riots.

10. (The Other) 99 – Referring to the majority of those living in Western Democracies who are left out of the dramatic rise in earnings associated with “the Top 1%”.

The Top Phrases of 2011

Rank / Phrase / Comment

1. Arab Spring – The series of uprisings, social protests, and rebellions occurring among many nations of the Arab World beginning this spring.

2. Royal Wedding – The wedding of the former Kate Middleton and heir-to-the-British-Throne, Prince William that captivated millions around the world.

3. Anger and Rage – Characterizations of the global electorate by the pundits, though closer analyses has revealed more frustration than anger and more disappointment than rage.

4. Climate Change – No. 1 phrase for the first decade of the 21st century; still resonates into its second decade.

5. The Great Recession – Though officially over, the media term most frequently used to describe the on-going global economic restructuring.

6. Tahrir Square – The scene of the ‘25th of January’ demonstrations in Cairo against Hosni Mubarak.

7. Linear No Threshold (LNT) – The methodology to calculate risk from exposure to radioactive elements from the Fukushima Daiiachi disaster.

8. Bunga Bunga – Re-emerged in the language through ‘bunga-bunga’ parties hosted by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

9. ‘How’s that working out for you?’ – The New York Times credits Sarah Palin, but it predates her use of the phrase by several decades.

10. “Make no mistake about it!” – President Obama has repeated the phrase thousands of times since his 2008 election.

The Top Names of 2011

Rank / Name / Comments

1. Steve Jobs – The citations for Steve Jobs topped those for No. 2 (Osama bin-Laden and Seal Team 6) by more than 30%.

2. Osama bin-Laden & Seal Team 6 – Who changed the world more? Al-Qaeda or Steve Jobs?

3. Fukushima – The epicenter of the Japanese Triple Disaster (earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown).

4. Mohamed Bouazizi – the Tunisian fruit vendor who set himself afire and became the symbol of Tunisian resistance – and the Arab Spring.

5. Chinese Paramount Leader Hu Jintao – The Rise of the Tiger being a primary cause of the Global Economic Restructuring.

6. Kate Middleton – She captivated the world with her elegance and style and continues to do so as the Duchess of Cambridge.

7. Muammar Gaddafi – Libyan strongman toppled in the recent insurrection.

8. President Obama – Hope and Change retreat further into the history books; the game plan is now for survival.

9. PIIGS – The nations of Portugal, Ireland, Italy Greece and Spain taken together for their untenable deficits possibly affecting the economic health of the Eurozone.

10. Yaroslavl Lokomotiv – The ill-fated elite Russian hockey team that was virtually wiped out in the crash of a three-engine Yak-42.

Top Words of the Decade

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

Previous Words of the Year include:

2010:
Top Words: No. 1 Spillcam, No. 2 Vuvuzela, No. 3 The Narrative
Top Phrases: No. 1 Anger and Rage, No. 2 Climate Change, No. 3 The Great Recession
Top Names: No. 1 Hu Jintao, paramount leader of China, No. 2 iPad, No. 3 Barack Obama

2009:
Top Words: No. 1 Twitter, No. 2 Obama-, No. 3 H1N1
Top Phrases: No. 1 King of Pop, No. 2 Obama-mania, No. 3 Climate Change
Top Names: No. 1 Obama, No. 2 Michael Jackson, No. 3 Mobama

2008:
Top Words: No. 1 Change, No. 2 Bailout, No. 3 Obama-mania
Top Phrases: No. 1 Financial Tsunami, No. 2 Global Warming, No. 3 “Yes, We Can!”
Top Names: No. 1 Barack Obama, No. 2 George W. Bush, No.3 Michael Phelps

2007:

Top Words: No. 1 Hybrid (representing all things green), No. 2: Surge
Top Phrase: Climate Change
Top Name: Al Gore

2006:
Top Word: Sustainable
Top Phrase: Stay the Course
Top Name: Dafur

2005:
Top Words: No. 1, Refugee No. 2: Tsunami No. 3: Katrina
Top Phrase: Outside the Mainstream
Top Name: (acts of ) God

2004:
Top Word: Incivility (for inCivil War)
Top Phrase: Red States/Blue States No. 2: Rush to War
Top Name: Dubya/Rove

2003:
Top Word: Embedded
Top Phrase: Shock and Awe, No. 2: Rush to War
Top Name: Saddam Hussein, No. 2 Dubya

2002:

Top Word: Misunderestimate

Top Phrase: Threat Fatigue
Top Name: W (Dubya)

2001:
Top Word: Ground Zero
Top Phrase: ‘Lets Roll’
Top Name: The Heros

2000:
Top Word: Chad
Top Phrase: Dot.com
Top Name: W (Dubya)

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 1.512.815.8836, email info@LanguageMonitor.com, or visit www.LanguageMonitor.com.

How 9/11 Changed the Way We Talk

Attention:  Any part of article may be used as a quote, or as a story or a segment within a larger story.
No permissions necessary.

By Paul JJ Payack

AUSTIN, Texas.  September 11, 2011.  For the decade, The Global Language Monitor, and its predecessors have been keeping track of the manner in which the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 have changed the way Americans Talk.  We have updated our findings several times since, as the language has evolved with the ensuing events of the decade, most tragic (Iraq, 7/7, Afghanistan, the Global Economic Restructuring), others seemingly beyond surreal  (the Southeast Asian Tsunami, the inundation of New Orleans) a welcome few comforting.

Aftermath  by Paul JJ Payack</p>
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Aftermath  by Paul JJ Payack

We have found subtle yet profound differences in our everyday speech since that day when terrorist attacks unfolded   on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the pending targets in Washington, D.C., widely suspected to be the White House or the Capitol Building.  The changes we have tracked include the way Americans speak in terms of subject matter, vernacular, word choice and tone.

9/11

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

 

Ground Zero

The name Ground Zero now evokes a sacred place, where the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers once stood. It is also revered as a burial ground since thousands of bodies literally vaporized in the ensuing collapse with no remains found whatsoever.

Almost universally, it is capitalized as any other proper name, with a few exceptions, most notably the New York Times (and later legitimized in the AP Style Guide).

In fact, the Times continues to insist on referring to Ground Zero in the lower case, calling it, for example, ‘the area known as ground zero’.   Admittedly, ground zero also refers to the epicenter of a nuclear blast.  In the minds of this generation, this is a close as they have ever gotten to such an event (or ever expect to).

Names are officially bestowed in a number of ways, most often by bureaucratic committees following arcane sets of rules, answering to few. In this case, we kindly request those nameless bureaucrats to follow the lead of hundreds of millions around the world who have formally bestowed upon that special place, the formal name: Ground Zero.

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Heroes

In mythology, heroes were men and women often of divine ancestry endowed with the gifts of courage and strength.  In reality, everyday heroes of the late 20th and early 21st centuries were sports figures (‘Be like Mike’ and ‘Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio’), comic book and cartoon characters ala

Superman and Spiderman, and all too frequently ‘anti-heroes’ known for the colossal damage they might inflict upon a helpless (and often hapless) world.

Into this tableaux, came the heroes of 9/11, very real men and women, rushing into and up the Towers as everyone else was rushing down and out; rushing the cockpit of Flight 93, with plastic knives and forks and  hot coffee, forcing the startled highjackers to abandon their plans of crashing into the Capitol or White House rather than the previously unheralded soil of Swanksville, PA; and the men and women who quietly stood their posts at the Pentagon, just doing their duty, not knowing if they would be subjected to another horrific, and more deadly, attack at any moment.

Jericho Sounding by Paul JJ Payack
Jericho Sounding by Paul JJ Payack

In the post-9/11 world, the term has now come to apply to any who place their lives in danger to foster the common good, especially ‘first-responders’ such as: firefighters, EMTs, and police, who quietly place their lives on the line every day.

Another historic change is the treatment of American soldiers with the respect they have been unaccustomed to since the days of the Vietnam War.  The public has evidently been able to separate the politics of the wars from the all-too-human participants.

-stan

The suffix in Persian and related languages that means, literally, ‘land of,’ hence, Afghanistan or Land of the Afghans, or Kurdistan (or Kurdish Territories), or even this relatively new moniker: Londonistan.  Talibanistan, referring to Afghanistan and the ‘tribal lands’ in Pakistan.  The suffix has been appropriated in various, often humorous, ways such as the famous New Yorker cover that referred to the various ‘-stans’ one encounters in post-Modern life.

The Demarcation of Time

The date 9/11 now has a special place as a time marker or time stamp; we now  frequently delineate time periods as either pre-9/11 or post 9/11.

 

The unCivil (or inCivil) War

Since 9/11, the political discourse of American politics has, arguably, descended to its lowest level since the Civil-War era when Lincoln was typically depicted as a know-nothing, Bible-spouting Baboon. Even speech of the Watergate era was spared the hyperbole commonly heard today, as respect for the institution of the presidency remained high, even though the President was widely disdained.

Today, political opponents are routinely called ‘liars,’ are typically compared to Hitler, Nazis and Fascists by those who evidently know little of either history or political theory.

When tragedies do occur (the inundation of New Orleans, the Gulf Oil Spill, the Global Economic Restructuring), no opportunities are overlooked to demonize the sitting president by the ‘loyal’ opposition.  And the vitriol has steadily increased throughout the decade as measured by various longitudinal indices of GLM.  In fact, much of the frustration with President Obama now associated with liberals and progressives has been trending upward since his inauguration, though it was overlooked by the conventional media and polling organizations because traditional polling and information gathering often finds itself at a disadvantage when compared to Internet and social-media based trend-tracking organizations.

It is very difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of this debasement of political speech and rhetoric, but it has been suggested that in the face of a nearly invisible, constantly morphing, enemy, we have turned the attack inward, upon ourselves, and our institutions.

Apocalyptic-type Terminology

In an exclusive of the worldwide media, GLM has also found a decided rise in apocalyptic-type terminology in the description of tragedies but even with events of inconvenience (such as Washington’s Snowmageddon of last winter or the recent Carpocalypse  in Los Angeles).  After all it does snow in Washington, D.C. every winter and freeways are frequently closed the world over for repairs.

Vanquished & Vanished by Paul JJ Payack
Vanquished & Vanished by Paul JJ Payack

This trend town alarming references include:   Biblical, Hiroshima-type references, Catastrophe, Holocaust, Apocalypse, decimation, and End-of-the-World scenarios.  These alarmist references are recorded across the full spectrum of print and electronic media.  It appears as if the world is stunned the string of early 21st catastrophes.  (By the way, the world still has to deal with the so-called end of the Mayan calendar extinction event that is scheduled to occur on December 22nd of next year.)

The global media appear mesmerized by the constant bombardment of television images of apparently rampaging, out-of-control elements, such as

the truly catastrophic  combination of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown in Japan, where authorities encounter vast difficulties in keeping  their own people fed, sheltered, evacuated, and, even, from dying on the street.

During the inundation of New Orleans, the Sunday Times (London) stated, “Devastation that could send an area the size of England back to the Stone Age”.  The story continues, “AMERICA comes to an end in Montgomery, Alabama … it has been replaced by a dangerous and paranoid post-apocalyptic landscape, short of all the things fuel, phones, water and electricity needed to keep the 21st century switched on. By the time you reach Waveland, Mississippi, the coastal town of 6,800 where corpses lie amid a scene of Biblical devastation, any semblance of modern society has gone. “

Everyday language changes with 9/11

Some ten years on, we now speak of terror levels (since obsoleted), duct tape, Homeland Security, Full-body scanners, shoe-bombs and shoe-bombers, the Freedom Tower (since renamed), Shanksville, the Ground Zero Mosque, Imans, drones, high-value targets, Ramadan, Burquas, face veils, Sharia Law, and scores of other 9/11-related terms that now inhabit the English Linguasphere.



Number of Words in the English Language: 1,025,109.8

The number of words in the English language is: 1,025,109.8.   This is the estimate by the Global Language Monitor on January 1, 2014.

The English Language passed the Million Word threshold on June 10, 2009 at 10:22 a.m. (GMT).  The Millionth Word was the controversial ‘Web 2.0′. Currently there is a new word created every 98 minutes or about 14.7 words per day.

Google Validates GLM’s No. of Words in English Prediction

GLM/Google vs OED and Webster’s 3rd

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For more detail, go here.

Though GLM’s analysis was the subject of much controversy at the time, the recent Google/Harvard Study of the Current Number of Words in the English Language is 1,022,000.  The above graphic is from the AAAS /Science as reported on NPR.   At the time the  New York Times article on the historic threshold famously quoted several dissenting linguists as claiming  that “even Google could not come up with” such a methodology.  Unbeknownst to them Google was doing precisely that.

The number of words in the English language according to GLM now stands at:  1,013,913.   The difference between the two analyses is .0121%, which is widely considered statistically insignificant.

Google’s number, which is based on the counting of  the words in the 15,000,000 English language books it has scanned into the ‘Google Corpus,’ mirrors GLM’s Analysis.  GLM’s number is based upon its algorithmic methodologies, explication of which is available from its site.

Bin-Laden’s Death One of Top News Stories of 21th Century


Rise of China Still Tops all Stories

Royal Wedding breaks in at No. 5; Obama top mover (+4)

AUSTIN, Texas May 6, 2011 – The Top News Stories of the 21st century have been shuffled by the historic events of the still young 2011, according to the Austin-based Global Language Monitor. The death of Osama bin-Laden, the Royal Wedding, between Prince William and the former Kate Middleton, the unprecedented series of Japanese disasters, and the series of uprisings now known as the the Arab Spring have all broken into the Top Ten.

The on-going rise of China to first-tier nation status continues as No. 1. The election of Barack Obama to the US presidency moved up to the second spot, followed by the death of bin-Laden, and the springing of the Wikileaks followed. The Royal Wedding pushed ahead of the death of Michael Jackson and also replaced Jackson as top celebrity-driven event of the century thus far. The 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Japanese Disasters, the Arab Spring and the Global Economic Restructuring rounded out the Top Ten.

The acceleration of the news cycle has been a long-observed fact, however the acceleration of the news itself can also be viewed as unprecedented,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and the Chief Word Analyst of Austin-based Global Language Monitor.“

The full list of the Top 20 News Stories of the 21st century thus far follows. The includes the story and its rank, the year the story first broke, its ranking in 1999 and its movement (if any).

Rank of Story, Year the Story Began, Last Ranking in 2009 and Movement

1. Rise of China 2000 1 (Same)

2. Election of Barack Obama 2008 6 (+4)

3. Bin-laden Killed 2011 New —

4. Wikileaks Published 2010 New —

5. Royal Wedding British 2011 New —

6. Death of Michael Jackson 2009 5 (-1)

7. 9/11 Terrorist Attacks 2001 3 (-4)

8. Japanese Disasters 2011 2011 New —

9. Arab Spring 2011 New —

10. Global Economic Restructuring 2008 7 (-3)

11. War on Terror 2001 4 (-7)

12. Iraq War 2003 2 (-10)

13. Hurricane Katrina 2005 8 (-5)

14. Social Media as Strategic Weapon 2011 New —

15. South Asian Tsunami 2004 12 (-3)

16. Osama bin-Laden Search 2001 15 (-1)

17. iPad Launch 2010 New —

18. Death of Pope John Paul II 2005 14 (-4)

19. War against Taliban 2002 13 (-6)

20. War in Afghanistan 2002 9 (-11)

GLM employed it NarrativeTracker Technology in analyzing the data. NarrativeTracker first focused on the number of citations found the Internet, blogosphere, and social media sites. The second focused on the top 75,000 print and electronic media sites. Finally, the two analyses were normalized.

Kate Middleton’s Social Media Star to Eclipse Princess Diana

Study also compares Michelle Obama with the Royals

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NarrativeTracker analysis of Internet, social and traditional media

AUSTIN, Texas. April 18, 2011. With less than two weeks left before the Royal Wedding on April 29th, Kate Middleton is already posting Diana-type numbers in terms of news worthiness and celebrity status on the Top Global Media sites as well as on the Internet and Social Media according to The Global Language Monitor. Previously GLM had found the soon-to-be Princess Catherine the Top Fashion Buzzword of the 2011 season, replacing the eccentric Lady Gaga.

The GLM study compared the citations of Kate Middleton with those of Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry, and Camilla Parker Bowles. Michelle Obama as First Lady of the United States was included as a relevant American comparison. For the Top Global Media, the citations were measured over the last three months as well as all the archives available.

“Kate Middleton is set to eclipse Princess Di as the media star of the Royal Family,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “In fact, Kate could surpass all Internet, Social Media, and Global Print and Electronic Media citations by the time the Royal Wedding-related stories are compiled.”

Two weeks before the Royal Wedding, Middleton’s Internet and Social Media citations, surpass all members of the Royal Family. Prince William comes in as a close second followed by Princess Diana, who died in a Paris car crash in 1997.

For Internet news citations, Middleton follows only Prince William and Prince Charles. For comparison, First Lady Michelle Obama, since she first came to notice in 2004, would rank No. 3 in Internet and Social Media citations, just ahead of Princess Diana and would rank No 4, again slightly ahead of Princess Diana in Internet news.

In the traditional Global Print and Electronic Media, Prince William and his bride-to-be, both double references to Queen Elizabeth and quadruple those to Prince Charles who would also follow Michelle Obama.

Note: Princess Di is cited in hundred of thousands of news stories even though she died before Google, social media, and smartphones existed. Even without the current media environment where the Internet, social media and the traditional media feed upon themselves as some sort cyber echo chamber, the study demonstrates the enduring legacy of Princess — some fourteen years after her death.

GLM used NarrativeTracker Technology in this study.

NarrativeTracker is based on the global discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture of what any audience is saying about any topic, at any point in time. NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, the top global print and electronic media, as well as new social media sources (such as Twitter).

Media for detailed statistics, or call 1.512.815.8836.

Danger of long-term effects Fukushima fallout little discussed in media


Prevailing view ‘harmless,’ Opposing views called ‘laced with hysteria’

AUSTIN, Texas. March 23, 2011. With radioactive elements from Japan’s Fukushima Daiiachi disaster finally reaching the continental US this week, the Global Language Monitor’s NarrativeTracker has found that the possible long-term dangers of Fukushima Daiiachi’s radioactive fallout has been little discussed in the media. In fact, there has been little or no discussion of the ongoing debate about assessing the long-term risks associated with Cesium-137 and Iodine-131, etc.

The prevailing view of the global print and electronic media is to pronounce the radioactive elements ‘harmless,’ which is in direct contract to the accepted view of the National Academy of Sciences, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and many others. In fact, the discussion that does appear, labels opposing views as ‘irrational’ or ‘laced with hysteria’, as in a recent article in the New York Times.

According the the Global Language Monitor’s NarrativeTracker there have been only two references to the controversy in the past week in the major global media, or even to the fact that the analysis of the heath impact of the escaped radiation could be far off base. An article in the Malaysian Star was the most insightful. Even on the web news side, NarrativeTracker picked up fewer that half a dozen references to the controversy in the last week.

On the Internet and in Social Media, there were some 10,000 references to the controversy, which pales in comparison to news about, say Charlie Sheen (who has hundreds of million citations). In addition, there were about three million references to the ‘harmless’ effects of the Fukushima fallout, with about 7,000,000 references to its ‘dangers’.

Therefore, the prevailing and accepted view of the National Academy of Sciences, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and, for that matter, the US Congress has been overlooked in the global media discussion. This is the view that holds sway in legislation ranging from the regulation of cigarettes, CT scans and the Hanford Reservation cleanup. In addition to the risk to human life, billions of dollars in government are at stake.

The controversy concerns Linear No Threshold (LNT) methodology to calculate risk from exposure to radioactive elements. The LNT dose-response relationship is used to describe the relationship between radiation dose and the occurrence of cancer. This dose-response model suggests that any increase in dose, no matter how small, results in an incremental increase in risk. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) accepts the LNT hypothesis as a conservative model for estimating radiation risk.

There are two competing theories here.

1.   There is no lower-level threshold to the threat from radioactive exposure. Basically this means that even a small exposure to radioactivity will increase the chance of cancer occurring in a corresponding small percentage of the population. The smaller the exposure, the smaller the risk, but the risk never falls to zero.

2.   There is a lower-level threshold to the threat from radioactive exposure. This is model that the media has adopted in claims that the fallout is ‘harmless’ while still recognizing that it is harmful in large doses. Some scientists adhere to the radiation hormesis model that radiation might even be beneficial in very low doses

The LNT model is generally accepted by most governments and scientific agencies and predicts higher risks than the threshold model. Because the current data is inconclusive, scientists disagree on which methodology should be used.

However, the fact that there has been little or no discussion of the topic in the media is cause for concern.

Japanese Disasters Need-to-Know Glossary Update

Added: Chest x rays, Black swans, Dinosaur extinction event, Two packs-a-day

AUSTIN, Texas, March 21,  2011 — (Updated Daily) The Global Language Monitor has assembled the Japanese Disasters Need-to-Know Glossary to help understand the sometimes obtuse and ofter obscure terminology used in describing the concurrent Japanese Disasters that we are now witnessing.

We will add to the document as events continue to unfold.

“This is a tragedy of unprecedented proportions.  We believe it is our responsibility to help people around the globe more fully understand the depth of the destruction and the nature of the circumstances that have already have and continue to unfold,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor.

Can Your Family or Business Survive a Disaster for Three Days? Click Here!

Term Definition
1.6 microseconds Number of microseconds the Earth’s spin was increased by the Sendai earthquake
9.0 magnitude The Japanese quake was 9.0 on the Richter Scale. This makes it about 700,000 times more powerful than last year’s Haitian earthquake. (See Richter Scale.)
12.5 magnitude Theoretical magnitude of the Chicxulub asteroid impact 65,000,000,000 years ago that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. (However, mammals live through it.)
900 kph The waves of the tsunami traveled traveled about as fast as of typical passenger jetliner (About 560 mph/900 kph)
Black Swan Black Swan: rare but Nation-destroying disasters: an asteroid hitting the earth; a super volcano (Yellowstone Caldera) rending half a continent lifeless; a solar flare that destroys all modern communication systems. The Japanese Tri-Crisis qualifies as a Black Swab.
Cesium-137 Metal of the Alkali group that can signal the presence of a nuclear reaction. The half-life of Cesium 137 is 30 years. This means it would take about 200 years for something contaminated with it to lose all signs of radioactivity. Its name is derived from the Latin for a bluish-gray color
Chernobyl The Chernobyl incident in Ukraine in 1986 was considered the world’s worst nuclear accident until now. A carbon-fed fire sent the radioactive elements high into the atmosphere affecting every country in Europe.
Chest X Ray Each chest x ray exposes you to about .04 mSv. A major surgery might require 1,000 x rays, which would result in 40 mSv. A single CT heart scan results in a 12 mSv exposure.
China Syndrome Theory that a molten nuclear core breeches its containment vessel (in the US) and proceeds through the Earth’s core all the way to China. This is not actually possible. (See Tierra del Fuego syndrome.)
Containment Building (or vessel) Reinforced concrete structure made to serve as final barrier to entrap radioactive gases
Earthquake Shaking of Earth’s crust due to underlying tectonic forces
Epicenter The center of the earthquake, ofter miles underground.
Fuel Rods The affected Japanese reactors have thousands of 12-foot long, zirconium-alloy fuel rods. Each contain thousands of uranium-oxide ceramic pellets. The fuel rods are densely packed into the reactor.
Fukushima 50 The fifty workers serving as the final defense against a catastrophic meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi.
Fukushima Daiichi The nuclear reactors site with six boiling water reactors. 1, 2 and 6 were built by General Electric. 3, 4 and 5 were built by Toshiba. Fukushima Daiichi is 241 km (150 miles) from Tokyo.
Half-Life The time it takes radioactive material to expend one half of its radioactivity. The longer the half-life, the more dangerous the material.
Hiroshima Bomb The Hiroshima atomic bomb was detonated on August 6, 1945. It’s yield was estimated between 13 and 18 kilotons of TNT. It was set equivalent to a 6.2 magnitude quake.
IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency is headquartered in Vienna.
Indian Ocean Tsunami The Indian Ocean Tsunami on Boxing Day in 2004 resulted in waves over 18 meters (50 feet) high. Over 250,000 people were killed, some 5,000 km (3000 m) away.
International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) The INES, introduced in1990 by the IAEA, has seven levels, with 1-3 considered incidents and 4-7, accidents. The Fukushima incident was recently moved from Level 4 to 5 (equivalent to Three Mile Island). Chernobyl is the only Level 7 accident on record.). The French Nuclear Agency suggests Fukushima to be a Level 6.
Iodine-131 Iodine-131 is a highly radioactive element that signifies at least a partial meltdown. The half-life of Iodine-131 is about 8 days, which means that it decays far faster than Cesium-137. The radioactive iodine is concentrated in the thyroid, however taking iodine potassium tablets fill the thyroid to capacity so the radioactive Iodine -131 is more likely to be excreted.
Krakatoa Indonesian Volcano that exploded in 1883 with a force equivalent to 8.5 magnitude (and some 200 megatons). Purported to be the loudest sound ever heard up to 5,000 km (or about 3,000 miles). The sound waves were measured to circle the earth seven times.
Linear No Threshold Model LNT basically it means that even a small exposure to radioactivity will increase the chance of cancer occurring in a corresponding small percentage of the population. The smaller the exposure, the smaller the risk, but the risk never falls to zero. The LNT model is generally accepted by most governments and scientific agencies, but is considered controversial in some scientific circles. This is why you hear conflicting views from experts on the cancer risk.
Meltdown When a core meltdown catastrophic melting of the core of a nuclear reactor due to a loss of cooling
No. 5 The earthquake was the fifth strongest since 1900.
Nuclear reactor Devices that use chain reactions of fissionable materials to boil water to create steam. The steam runs through turbines to create power.
Plate tectonics Theory that the continents rest on plates that drift into each other, causing earthquakes and mountain building
Prefecture States or Provinces of Japan. There are 47 prefectures.
Richter scale The logarithmic scale that measures the strength of an earthquake named after Charles Richter. It is a base-10 logarithmic scale. This means that an earthquake that measures 3.0 is 10 times more powerful that one measuring 2.0. The scale is open-ended, though the 1960 Chile quake measured at 9.6.
Sendai Earthquake At 9.0 the Sendai earthquake was the fifth largest since 1900. The Sendai quake was equivalent to about 100,000 Hiroshima-class bombs.
Sievert and millisievert (and millisievert) A unit of measurement for radiation dosage. According to the World Health Organization, the average person is exposed to about 3 millisieverts a year from natural sources and 3 mSv from human-made sources.
Three Mile Island In 1979 Unit No. 2 of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania experienced a partial meltdown. Later it was found that the molten radioactive material penetrated within 1 centimeter of breaking through the containment barrier. Because of its location and the prevailing wind patterns, the fallout could have traveled over the heavily populated Eastern Seaboard, passing over Philadelphia, New York and possibly Boston with a population of more than 30,000,000.
Tierra del Fuego Syndrome The China Syndrome when applied to the Far East (See China Syndrome.)
Tokyo Capital of Japan with more than 30,000,000 people in its metropolitan area.
Tsar Bomba The largest hydrogen bomb ever detonated, by the Soviet Union in 1961. It was about equal to a 7.8 magnitude quake in the general range of the San Francisco earthquake 0f 1908 and the Mount Saint Helen’s volcanic explosion in 1981.
Tsunami From the Japanese tsu (harbor) and nami (wave); waves caused by undersea land movement; usually caused by earthquakes. A tsunami gathers destructive force as it nears land. Depending on the configuration of the shoreline, wave rise over ten-times in height.
Two Packs a Day Smoking two packs of cigarettes a day exposes you to about 17 mSv per year. Smoke for a lifetime that’s 850 mSv.

Casualties in Japan Disasters could reach 25,000 or more

AUSTIN, Texas, March 14, 2011 — According to Global Language Monitor’s NarrativeTracker Technology the ultimate number of casualties resulting from the Japanese Quake and Tsunami could ultimately climb to over 25,000 and possibly reaching 50,000, or more.

“The depth of this tragedy is even deeper than what we had already imagined it to be” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “Only our understanding of the true magnitude of the tragedy, will enable us to move beyond it, to rebuild what needs to be rebuilt and renew what needs to be renewed. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of those who were struck down – and the survivors who carry on.”

The analysis is based on NarrativeTracker’s analytical methodologies.  Statements by public, corporate and military officials as well as outside agencies and various experts were complied and examined with appropriate trendlines extrapolated.   The progression has been noted from the earliest reports where casualties were said to be ‘several hundred’, then ‘nearly a thousand’ and now in the ‘tens of thousands’..  At the same time, GLM noted the many reports of still-missing trains, ships, and good-sized villages where fewer than half the population has as not yet been accounted for.

The analysis compared trends in casualty-reporting with several  disasters including the Haitian earthquake, Hurricane Katrina’s inundation of New Orleans, and the Southeast Asia Tsunami.

The analysis assumes that there are no deaths associated with the partial meltdowns of a number of nuclear reactors.  GLM notes that this is an analysis is an estimate that is based on trending factors and should be considered as such.

Updates on the Japanese Disasters

For updates and analysis go to our DisasterTrack pages, where:

  • You can help name the disaster (and see what others are thinking).   Send nominations to disastertracking@gmail.com.
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<h4><strong>The Tsunami Rushes to Shore</strong></h4>
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The Tsunami Rushes to Shore

  • You can download a Japanese publication called Earthquake Disaster Prevention Guidebook

 

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  • You can track  current earthquakes in California and around the planet.

 

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  • You can follow the latest disaster-related updates from our DisasterTrack Twitter feed.


Can your family or business survive a disaster for three days? Click Here!

Top News Stories of 2010 by Internet Ranking

South African World Cup tops iPad Launch and Rise of China;

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US Healthcare Reform & Wikileaks follow

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First time a product launch contends for the top spot; First time a sporting event reaches the top spot

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Austin, TX December 19, 2009 – In an exclusive global analysis performed by the Global Language Monitor, the Top News Stories of 2010 are South African World Cup, the iPad Launch, the Rise of China, US Healthcare Reform, and Wikileaks.  The Tea Party movement, the fall of Obama, the Gulf Oil Spill, Haitian Earthquake, and the Political Anger and Rage witnessed in the major western economies, followed.  The list is notable for two firsts:  the first time a sporting event tops the list and the first time a product launch contends for the top spot.

Chinese Dignitaries
Chinese Dignitaries

“The globe has witnessed the major news sources of the 20th century fragment into thousands of micro-focused outlets in the twenty-first.   At the same time, the major global media are playing an ever-more important role when major events occur, as aggregate communities for shared experiences,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor, the media analytics and trend tracking company.  “For these reasons we performed two independent analyses.  The first focused on the number of citations found over the course of the year on the Internet, blogosphere, and social media sites.  The second focused on the top 75,000 print and electronic media sites.  Finally, the two analyses were normalized with the final results appearing here.”

The Top News Stories of 2010 follow.

Rank/Story/Comment

1.  South African World Cup –  The South African World Cup towered over all other news stories.

2.   iPad – A product launch is the No. 2 worldwide news story!?

3.  Rise of China – Top Story of the First Decade of the 21st century, still very strong.

4.  Health Care Reform – The debate over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Ac t continues unabated.

5.   Wikileaks – Not a wiki in the usual sense of ‘an open environment which anyone can edit,’ the story of revealed institutional secrets that will continue to resonate well into 2011.

6.  Tea Party – The US political movement which emphasizes scaled back government intrusion, influence and spending.

7.  Fall of Obama – His fall is relative to the great heights to which he ascended.

8.  Gulf Oil Spill – An unprecedented environmental catastrophe broadcast live around the world via the BP Spillcam.

9.  Haitian Earthquake – Hundreds of thousands killed, millions displaced and the agony continues.

10.  Political Anger and Rage – Frustration in the US and  much of the developed world about the financial and political situation.

11.  EU Financial Crisis – The economies of Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Spain threaten to consume Billions of Euros in bailouts.

12.  Shanghai Expo – The “Grand Gathering of the World Cultures” was visited by some 70 million in 2010.

13.  Growth of Facebook – With 400 million members it now touts itself as the fourth largest nation on the planet.  However, there is no word of UN membership or plans for a standing army.

14.  Pakistan Floods – Garnered more attention worldwide than in the US.

15.  Scott Brown Election – The turnover of the ‘Kennedy seat’ after half a century to this upstart, pickup-driving Republican caused quite a stir.

16.  Tiger Woods – Previously notable for the first golfer to earn a billion dollars, the news of his serial infidelities continues to impact the golf world.

17.  British coalition government — David Cameron and Nick Clegg lead a new coalition into power.

18.  Chilean Miners – The dramatic saga and rescue of Los 33, provided riveting drama (and television) to a world weary of disheartening news.

19.  Polish President Killed — Lech Kaczynski, his wife, and dozens of high government officials died en route to a memorial service honoring the 20,000 Poles who died in the Katyn forest.

20.  Global economic restructuring – Also known as the Great Recession in the US, but felt worldwide especially among developed Western nations.

21.  Vuvuzela –  The brightly colored plastic horns  that caused much consternation at the South African World Cup.

23.  Ground Zero Mosque – Officially known as 45 Park Place, the controversial Islamic center planned a few blocks north of Ground Zero.

24.  Icelandic Volcano – The unpronounceable Eyjafjallajökull volcano that disrupted air travel over much of Northern Europe.

25.  Snowmageddon –  The unusually heavy snowfalls that virtually shut down Washington, DC during an exceptionally snowy winter.



Avoiding an American ‘Lost decade’

“What we are experiencing is not a recession, neither great nor small, but rather a global transference of wealth, power and prestige on an unprecedented level, carried out, in von Clausewitz’s words ‘by other means’.”

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Note:  This is the second in a series; you can see the first article directly below this one.
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November 30.  Where do we go from here?  We’ve already established that this is not a typical business cycle and this recession falls out of scope of previous recessions. Even the Great Depression was typical in the sense that it set off a worldwide fall in demand and productivity. It is now widely understood that while government intervention did stop the catastrophic collapse of the global economy, this intervention did little to revitalize global economic growth which did not resume until the onset of World War II.

This post first appeared on TheHill.com

Now, fast forward to September 2008 and months following shortly thereafter. There is wide agreement that the direct and dramatic Bush/Obama interventions did, indeed, prevent a global economic collapse. However, for many nations, including the U.S., the revitalization has yet to occur. While the stimulus spending saved many jobs in the public sector, few jobs were created in the private or wealth-creating sector. In retrospect it now appears that the stimulus was the equivalent to eating empty calories when hungry; a temporary rise in blood sugar without sustained nutrition.

This lack of wealth-building focus has led to a weak economic performance of 2.4 percent projected growth in GDP, hardly what one expects after such spending. (This growth rate has already been revised downward to 1.6 percent in the last quarter.) If this scenario does play out as expected, the eight million lost jobs will be replaced with new ones — by the 2020 time frame. By way of comparison, the “Reagan Recovery” created over 11,000,000 new jobs with four years.

While President Obama’s economic policies and overall execution of leadership is the current focus of many commentators, it remains a fact that this situation didn’t sneak up on us. The United States manufacturing sector has declined as a percentage of non-farm employment from about 30 percent in 1950 to just 9.27 percent in 2010, according to the October estimate of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also, an underlying statistic is that the U.S. has been losing not just manufacturing jobs, but entire factories, over 40,000 of them since 2000. The ramifications here go far beyond the manufacturing sector itself. Indeed, by some estimates, there is a 15-1 multiplier between other jobs (including manufacturing and service) and each manufacturing position. Therefore, this unprecedented loss of an industrial base and its concomitant plethora of supporting positions leave a greatly reduced platform upon which to launch a successful and timely recovery.

And so the question remains: Where do we go from here?

First, take a deep breath, look in the mirror and repeat; the world is different from what it was in 1982 and wishing and acting like it was the same will not bring those lost manufacturing jobs back. No matter what we do, trying to recapture global leadership in industries where the average U.S. salary (excluding benefits) is over $20/hr where the similar cost in China or Mexico is between $2-$6/hr is a losing proposition. This is not to say that the U.S. should not continue to innovate and look to manufacture world-class products, only that we will have to pick our battles in places where we have a strategic competence and a willingness to compete. Specifically, management must be willing to continually analyze each process for best in class behaviors and continually work to improve in order to maintain a leadership position.

Second, focus strategic investment in industries where the U.S. has a substantial lead or could develop one in future. Good examples here are in the area of information technology, where private investment continues to create new enterprises and wealth and “green technology” whose future is yet to unfold. We need to remind ourselves of the effectiveness of the U.S. Space Program, not only in accomplishing its primary mission, but creating entire industries and market that are still returning value to this day.

Third, fully accept that the old manufacturing jobs will not be repatriated and implement a program that will both create true value for the economy while putting people back to work. In past recessions, workers were typically called back to their jobs as the economy improved. This time however, with the loss of so many factories, the jobs platform is significantly smaller and is unable to support the type of recovery we have seen in the past. Now, we must both create jobs in new markets and industries as well as find employment for those whose skill base will not readily transfer to the new jobs platform(s).

A good example of this is the proposal by the Center for American Progress that outlines a plan to develop an energy efficiency industry to retrofit approximately 40 percent of the country’s buildings (approximately 50 million structures) within the next decade. This would require more than $500 billion in public and private investment and create over 600,000 “sustainable” jobs. Under the plan, energy use in those buildings would be reduced up to 40 percent and generate between $32 billion and $64 billion in annual consumer savings. Those savings would be used to re-pay the construction loans that would support the program.

This type of program would both create private sector jobs and help re-build U.S. infrastructure for the next five decades, all the while creating a buffer between the current economic environment and the one that will emerge.

One word of caution: we need a dozen or more initiatives of this kind to even come close to replacing the 8,000,000 lost jobs.

Paul JJ Payack is president of Austin-based Global Language Monitor. Edward ML Peters is CEO of Dallas-based OpenConnect Systems. Their most recent book is “The Paid-for Option”, which describes how healthcare reform can actually pay for itself through the application of process intelligence and its attendant gains in productivity.

Obama Turns Page on His Winning Rhetorical Style — and the Iraq War

Analysis of Obama’s ‘Turn the Page’ Oval Office address

AUSTIN, TX, September 7, 2010 – President Barack Obama, in his second Oval Office address announced the “American combat mission in Iraq has ended [and] Operation Iraqi Freedom is over”.    The seventeen-minute long speech, Obama acknowledged President George W. Bush, but neither thanked him for his role as former Commander-in-Chief nor credited him with the ‘Surge,’ other than as a reference to the current operations in Afghanistan.  The Surge, the change in military tactics during the height of the conflict, is widely credited with changing the course of the war.  The analysis was performed by the Global Language Monitor.  GLM has been analyzing presidential speeches since the turn of the century.

Not surprisingly, the President’s tone was sober, direct, and matter of fact, even workmanlike.  There were small rhetorical flourishes, such as referring to “our troops are the steel in our ship of state”.  He clearly proclaimed his devotion and admiration for the troops at the same time distancing himself from the war, its causes and execution. His emphasis was on ‘Turning the page’.

His address contained about half the number of passive constructions (7% vs. 13%) as his previous Oval Office address in June.  His sentences were some 5% shorter while the length of his paragraphs increased some 20%, which allowed him to more fully express his thinking.

When compared to other presidents’ addresses over the last several decades, this speech compared most closely from a ‘hearability’ or ‘readability’ point of view to President Reagan’s “Tear Down this Wall” speech;  however, rhetorically this was not the case.

As for grade-level (using the standard Flesch-Kincaid metrics), this speech was on with Obama’s more recent efforts (between ninth and tenth grades).  As noted previously, Obama has moved away from the rhetorical style of his most widely praised oratorical efforts, the ‘Yes We Can’ victory speech in Grant Park and his 2004 Democratic Convention effort in Boston).  (The actual numbers are 9.5 and 7.4 and 8.3 respectively.)  In doing so, he seems to have abandoned his earlier formula that resulted in the direct emotional impact of his campaign oratory.

[Note:  this article clocked in at a 12.3 grade reading level.]

In May 2003, President Bush gave his now infamous ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech declaring an ‘End To Major Combat In Iraq’.  However, during the speech, he never actually uttered ‘Mission Accomplished’.  Those words were on the ship returning to the San Diego Naval Base, as is the tradition, from overseas duty.   Fortunately for President Obama, his backdrop was the Oval Office and pictures of his wife and family.



Evacuee, Apocalypse & Hiroshima: Katrina Continues to Impact Language

Katrina Continues to Impact Language, Media and Politics

 

AUSTIN, Texas.   (August 30, 2010) – Katrina had a deep and lasting impact on how America looks at catastrophes and crises in the early 21st century.  And Katrina’s influence is becoming all the more pervasive as the effects of the crisis linger and the reality of the magnitude of the destruction continues to come to light.  An exclusive analysis by the Global Language Monitor (GLM) using it analytical resources, underscores how some five years after the event, Katrina continues to have an out-sized impact on our cultural landscape.  Last year, GLM ranked the Top Stories in the Global Media during the first decade of the 21st century.  Katrina ranked No. 8.

Background:  It is often said that the war in Viet Nam was the first war to be broadcast directly into American living rooms (back when people still gathered for dinner together and watched network news broadcasts).  We watched in horror at the mass destruction of the Towers falling a quarter of a century later, many of us on our computer screens.  But it was the unfolding of the inundation of New Orleans after the levees gave way that provided us with any number of up-close-and personal tragedies that would unfold (and float) before our disbelieving eyes.

Among the most prominent example of Katrina’s continuing cultural impact include:

  1. Refugee vs. Evacuee – At the time GLM’s analysis found that the term for the displaced, refugees, appeared 5 times more frequently in the global media than the more neutral, evacuees.  At the term, refugee was cited as racially insensitive.  Never endorsed by the AP Stylebook, currently the word refugee is used in the media some fifty times more than evacuee.
  2. “Heckova job, Brownie!” – GLM named this paraphrase of President Bush’s actual remark, “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job” as the most memorable phrase of 2005.  The phrase, according to a Reuter’s report at the time, “became a national punch line for countless jokes and pointed comments about the administration’s handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster”.  Even now variations of the phrase are used to criticize less-than-stellar efforts, such as when New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote, “Heck of a job, Barry” (her nickname for President Obama) in her Dec. 29th, 2009 column.
  3. Apocalyptic Imagery — The Southeast Asia Tsunami that killed over 200,000 people occurred nine months before Katrina, so audiences were somewhat familiar with horrific images of exotic locales as scenes of mass destruction.  However, the thought of the devastation unfolding in a major, revered US city, with the world watching the only remaining superpower, apparently unable to mobilize the necessary resources to stop the ongoing destruction and loss of life proved more than the press could handle.  Immediately, the global press echoed with apocalyptic imagery.  The Times in London led with: “Devastation that could send an area the size of England back to the Stone Age” and continued describing “a paranoid post-apocalyptic landscape … where corpses lie amid a scene of Biblical devastation, any semblance of modern society has gone.”
  4. The Hiroshima Analogy – Katrina hit landfall shortly after the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.   AP cited Mississippi governor Haley Barbour “Struggling with what he calls Hurricane Katrina’s nuclear destruction … [showing] the emotional strain of leading a state through a disaster of biblical proportions”.  However, the analogy continues to be used in light of the lingering effects of a drawn-out and, some would argue, less-than-successful recovery effort.  There are still 55,000 uninhabitable buildings half of which the new mayor has pledged to remove by 2014; many still lack essential services; the levees remain in questionable condition, and most importantly, some 20-to-25% of the population has failed to return.

5.  Storm and Scientific Terminology — The public has a much better understanding of the specific terminology surrounding hurricanes and tropical storms.  This would include:

  • Saffir-Simpson Scale, which predicts the destructive power of a hurricane,
  • Category or Hurricane Scale that measures the strength of a hurricane’s strength, from low to high (1 to 5).  Katrina peaked at Category 5 but at landfall fell to Category 3.
  • Storm Surge, the wall of water pushed in from of a hurricane.  Katrina’s was about 30 feet, the highest on record.
  • Levee, the massive, supposedly impermeable earthen walls, meant to hold back storm surges.  New Orleans has some 350 miles of levees.  An unfortunate fact about levees, once they let water in, they can actually prevent it from going out.
  • Naming System for Hurricanes, which has been in place for some fifty years.   They names are alphabetically sorted, alternating men’s and women’s names. The list was exclusively female until 1979. Names are recycled every 6 years. Influential hurricanes have their names retired.  Katrina was obviously retired.

6.  The name Katrina, according to the Social Security Administration, has fallen sharply in popularity.  In 2004 Katrina was the 274th most popular names for girls born in the US; in 2009 it ranked at 815.

For historical coverage of Hurricane Katrina from the Global Language Monitor, go here.



New York Magazine: Textbook Obama

Flash from the Past ( September 21, 2009) by Paul Bonanos

Which predecessor does his rhetoric most nearly echo? The data don’t lie: It’s Ronald Reagan.


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On Tuesday, President Obama spoke to schoolchildren; on Wednesday, to Congress. The easy punch line (same grade level, guys?) raises a real question: How does this president, whose comments on health care in particular had been criticized for lacking a clear take-home message, pitch his language? Does he strategically streamline his explanations for different audiences? To find out, we called upon science, in the form of Paul J. J. Payack, “president and chief word analyst” at an Austin, Texas, trend-watching outfit called the Global Language Monitor.

What Payack found when Obama’s speeches bubbled through his software was that the president didn’t treat Congress like a bunch of kids. His health-care speech clocks in at 9.0, indicating a ninth-grade reading level; the classroom speech, at 6.6. Those two figures more or less bookend the range for contemporary oration. Both Presidents Bush tended to fall around grade 7, as did Obama’s “Yes, We Can” speech. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” comes in at 8.8.

There’s plenty of room for sophisticated ideas at that level. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is sixth-grade material. So is The Hobbit. The Gettysburg Address rates a 9.1. That’s low for the nineteenth century, when florid oratory was in vogue—the Lincoln-Douglas debates took place at an eleventh-grade level, rarely heard today. “You can imagine how they’d talk—three, four hours long,” Payack says. “It really changed with the advent of radio.”

Nor is ninth-grade language too tough for a mainstream audience. Payack says that Ronald Reagan, the master of folksy explanation, is Obama’s closest match among recent presidents, with speeches that usually come in around 9 or 10. “The word was that he spoke in sound bites, but they’re very well-crafted sound bites.” The two presidents may differ in affect, content, and approach—Obama sometimes seems to develop his ideas through the very process of turning them into oratory, whereas Reagan more or less only had one idea—but not in linguistic complexity. Indeed, Obama has often expressed admiration for the Gipper’s ability to frame issues.

Payack explains that his proprietary algorithm is a variant of the standard Flesch Reading Ease Test, which is performed on many textbooks and educational materials: “It analyzes words per sentence, syllables per word, things of that nature. The theory is that the more complex the structure, the more syllables per word, the more difficult it is to understand.” Polysyllabicism and subclauses add complexity, and skew the score toward older readers. “To reach the greatest number of people, to communicate most crisply, to make sure your idea moves from your mind to someone else’s, you should speak in short sentences.” (Representative Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” achieves a prekindergarten rating.) For comparison, a Maureen Dowd column from last week was a 10.8, a Paul Krugman piece was a 12.5, and the story you’re reading now has a Flesch score of ninth grade.

Read More

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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.



Obama election tops all news stories since Year 2000


Obama election tops all news stories since Year 2000

 

More than double all the other major news events COMBINED

 

Does a new decade begin January 20th?

 

Austin, TX December 29, 2008 (MetaNewswire) – The election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States tops all major news stories since the year 2000 according to a analysis released by the Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com).  In fact citations of Barack Obama in the global print and electronic media, on the Internet, and throughout the blogosphere more than double the other main stories of the last decade combined.  These include in descending order:  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. 

Media,  Internet & Blogosphere
Rank Story
1 Obama
2 Iraq War 
3 Beijing Olympics
4 Financial Tsunami
5 Hurricane Katrina
6 Pope John Paul II
7 9/11 Terrorist Attacks
8 S. Asian Tsunami

 

 

When separating out the global print and electronic media alone, GLM found that more stories have appeared about the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States than the number of stories about Hurricane Katrina (No. 2), the Financial Tsunami (No. 3), and the Iraq War (No. 4) combined.  Next on the list of top stories since the Year 2000 include The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks (No. 5), the Beijing Olympics (No. 6), the Death of Pope John Paul II (No.7), and the South Asian Tsunami (No.8)  

The stories were measured in the print and electronic media for a one year period after the event. 


Print and Electronic Media
Rank Story
 1  Obama
 2  Hurricane Katrina
 3  Financial Tsunami
 4  Iraq War 
 5  9/11 Terrorist  Attacks
 6  Beijing Olympics
 7  Pope John Paul II
 8  S. Asian Tsunami


“The historical confluence of events in the year 2008 is unprecedented.  Aside from Obama’s election, we witnessed the Financial Tsunami which appears to be a vast restructuring of the world economic order, and the Beijing Olympics, which can be viewed as the unofficial welcoming of China into the world community as a nation of the first rank,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of GLM.  “This lends some credence to the idea that on January 20th, 2009 we are about to embark on the second decade of the second millennium.

To the popular mind, History rarely follows chronology: the Fifties ended with JFK’s Assassination in 1963; the Sixties with the Nixon’s resignation in ‘74; the Eighties with the fall of the Berlin Wall; while the Nineties, as well as the 20th century persisted until 9/11/2001.

 

 



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.

 

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