GLM Comment : We think not. But perhaps an unexpected ability to fashion an English Sentence.
One week ago today, the MoJo DC bureau was consumed by the arrival of Sarah Palin’s emails covering the first half of her half-term as Alaska’s governor. As David Corn detailed, there were plenty of interesting discoveries—a less than chilly attitude toward climate change, for instance, and a sometimes obsessive attitude toward media critics (marginal and otherwise).
While we were poring over the documents, though, Michael McLaughlin of AOL’s Weird News was taking a different approach:
AOL Weird News brought samples to two writing analysts who independently evaluated 24,000 pages of the former governor’s emails. They came back in agreement that Palin composed her messages at an [8.5] level, an excellent score for a chief executive, they said…
“She’s very concise. She gives clear orders. Her sentences and punctuations are logical,” Payack said. “She has much more of a disciplined mind than she’s given credit for.”
Although it’s like comparing apples to oranges, Payack said that famous speeches like Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was a 9.1 and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” oration rated a 8.8 on the scale.
Having read several thousand pages of the Palin emails, I think apples and oranges might be a bit of an understatement here. But there’s also a bit of truth there: Palin’s written communications are noticeably more coherent than her efforts to explain herself verbally (witness: Paul Revere-gate).
Is “aarrghh” a word? Not if you are playing Scrabble with me. If it is not in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary: put your tiles back and think again. “Aargh” is acceptable (an expression of anguish, horror, rage, or other strong emotion, according to the OED), but not “aarrghh”. My board, my rules.
Others disagree. “Aarrghh” appears in the Collins Official Scrabble Words. Collins’ latest edition also includes “thang”, “innit” and “nang”. Commentators greeted the Scrabble book by bemoaning the decline of the language and berating publishers who pandered to the young.
The new Collins book appeared on the same day that the CBI, the UK employers’ organisation, published a survey showing that 42 per cent of companies were dissatisfied with school leavers’ English skills. Are the two events connected?
We at the Global Language Monitor have noted that for at least two hundred years folks as diverse as Benjamin Franklin (eliminating and adding new letters), Noah Webster and George Bernard Shaw (simplifying spelling), and George Orwell (simplifying grammar) have long argued. Ghoti and chips anyone?
Now that this is actually happening in the early 21st century, it is most interesting to note that these changes are being driven by the youthful users of the language, as has been the case since the earliest days of the language.
Consider: Sumer is icumen in! / Lhude sing cuccu!
Which ancient forbear playing an early version of Scrabble(tm), had the audacity to recognize ‘cuckoo’ for ‘cuccu’ or for that matter accept ‘loud’ for ‘lhude’?
One note of caution: these same folks have decided that is perfectly fine to intermix letters with words, so you now can find ‘gr8′ substituting for ‘great’.
Is this something the up with which you will simply not put?
Study also compares Michelle Obama with the Royals
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.
‘Make no mistake,’ Obama is a big fan of his own catchphrases
BY ANTHONY DECEGLIE AND JENNY MERKINMONDAY, MARCH 28, 2011
Statistics gathered by the Global Language Monitor reveal that Obama has said it 2,924 times since he was sworn into office more than two years ago.
Other signature Obama sayings include “Here’s the deal” (1,450 times) and “Let me be clear,” (1,066 times). In a nod to the tough financial times he has faced, the president’s fifth most popular motto is “It will not be easy.”
Obama’s reheated rhetoric has recently come under fresh scrutiny. Parts of his speech warning Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi to honor the United Nations’ cease-fire pact were strikingly similar to the words spoken by President George W. Bush when he launched military strikes in Afghanistan.
“Our goal is focused. Our cause is just. And our coalition is strong,” Obama said. Bush, nearly a decade earlier: “Your mission is defined. Your objectives are clear. Your goal is just.”
Make no mistake, The Daily is hoping Obama lifts his creative game and “wins the future” (another rhetorical crutch) when it comes to this public speaking deal. Although we understand it will not be easy.
Scale of Top Sayings (Source: The Global Language Monitor, as of March 25)
#1 “Make no mistake” — 2,924 times
#2 “Win the future” — 1,861 times; 9 times in his 2011 State of the Union address
AUSTIN, Texas December 8, 2010 (Updated) – The Global Language Monitor has announced the Top Words of 2011, yes 2011.
“Typically, we gather our top words throughout the year and rank them according to the number of citations, the size and depth of their linguistic footprint and momentum. To project possible top words for 2011, we analyzed the categories that we monitor and then choose words from each representative of various word trends,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM. “Over the last ten years, we’ve frequently been asked the question, so this year we are providing our projections.”
The words are culled from throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.58 billion speakers.
Projected Top Words of 2011Rank / Word / Comments
Twenty-Eleven – The English-speaking world has finally agreed on a common designation for the year: Twenty-eleven far outstrips ‘two thousand eleven’ in the spoken language. This is welcome relief from the decade-long confusion over how to pronounce 2001, 2001, 2003, etc.
Obama-mess – David Letterman’s neologism for 2010 also works for 2011. This word is neutral. If Obama regain his magic, he escaped his Obama-mess; if his rating sinks further he continues to be engulfed by it.
Great Recession – Even the best case scenario has the economy digging out of this hole for the foreseeable future,
Palinism – Because the media needs an heir to Bushisms and Sarah Palin is the candidate of choice here.
3.0 – 2.0 has settled into the vocabulary in a thousand differing forms — Obama 2.0, Web 2.0, Lindsey Lohan 2.0, so we project 3.0 being used to ‘one-up’ the 2.0 trend.
9/11 – Next September is the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on US soil, so there is sure to be a great resurgence in use of the phrase.
Climate Change (or global warming) – Both of these phrases have been in the Top Ten for the last decade, so we see no reason the English-speaking public will abandon either or both of the phrases.
China/Chinese – The emergence of China is the Top Story of the Decade and there is little indication that is emergence on the world stage will continue in the media.
Hobbit and/or Parseltongue – The blockbuster movies of 2011 will be sure to include Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 and the Hobbit (though the Hobbit premiers on Dec. 31) are sure to spin out some word or phrase that will remain memorable to the Earthly-audience.
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.]
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:
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.
“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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.