Top Word of 2009: Twitter

Followed by Obama, H1N1, Stimulus, and Vampire

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

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

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

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

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

CNET’s Don Reisinger on twitter

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

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

The Poetry of Social Networks

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

The Top Words of 2009


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

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

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

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

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

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

7.         Deficit — Lessons from history are dire warnings here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Top Phrases of 2009


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Top Names of 2009


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Previous Words of the Year, go here.

History of the Top Words of 2008 – 2000

2008: Global Language Monitor

Top Words: No. 1 Change,  No. 2 Bailout, No. 3 ObamaMania
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: Global Language Monitor
Top Word: Hybrid (representing all things green)
No. 2: Surge
Top Phrase: Climate Change
Top Name: Al Gore

2006: Global Language Monitor
Top Word: Sustainable
Top Phrase: Stay the Course
Top Name: Dafur

2005: Global Language Monitor
Top Word: Refugee
No. 2: Tsunami
No. 3: Katrina
Top Phrase: Outside the Mainstream
Top Name: (acts of ) God

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

<a href=””>2003: yourDictionary (GLM Predecessor) Paul JJ Payack, founding President
</a>Top Word: Embedded
Top Phrase: Shock and Awe
No. 2: Rush to War
Top Name: Saddam Hussein
No. 2 Dubya

<a href=””>2002: yourDictionary (GLM Predecessor) Paul JJ Payack, founding President
</a>Top Word: Misunderestimate
Top Phrase: Threat Fatigue
Top Name: W (Dubya)

<a href=””>2001: yourDictionary (GLM Predecessor) Paul JJ Payack, founding President
</a>Top Word: GroundZero
Top Phrase: ‘Lets Roll’
Top Name: The Heros

<a href=””>2000: yourDictionary (GLM Predecessor) Paul JJ Payack, founding President
</a>Top Word: Chad
Top Phrase:
Top Name: W (Dubya)

Top HollyWords of 2008

<img src=”” alt=”” />
<h3>‘Jai Ho!’ and ‘Slumdog’ top HollyWORDs of 2008</h3>
<h3>followed by ‘Hmong,’ ‘Nuke the Fridge’ and ‘Twinkie defense’</h3>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>6th Annual Survey by the Global Language Monitor</span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span> </span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>Austin, TX. February 26, 2009.<span>  </span>‘Jai Ho!’ and ‘Slumdog’ from Slumdog Millionaire top the 2008 list of words from Hollywood that most influenced the English Language in 2008.<span>  </span>Closely following were ‘Hmong’ fromGran Torino, ‘Nuke the Fridge’ from Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull and ‘Twinkie defense’ (which followed the events depicted in Milk).<span>  </span><span> </span>It was the first time that two words from the same movie were ranked in the Top Ten.<span>  </span>Rounding out the Top Ten were:<span>  </span>‘Djembe’ (The Visitor), “There are no coincidences” (Kung Fu Panda), ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you … stranger,” (The Dark Knight), Posthumous (The Wrestler), and Katrina from Benjamin Button.</span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>“2008 was a remarkable year for words in films, with a Hindi phrase, the name of a Laotian tribe, a West African drum, and a modified quotation from Frederick Nietzsche all making the list,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor.<span> </span></span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>The Top Hollywords of the 2008 with commentary follow.</span></p>

<ol type=”1″>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span><span>Jai Ho! (Slumdog Millionaire) – Literally ‘Let there be Victory’ in Hindi.</span></span></li>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span>Slumdog (Slumdog Millionaire) – Definitely a politically incorrect term for young slum-dwellers in Bombay (Mumbai).</span></li>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span>Nuke the Fridge (Indiana Jones and the ) – Indiana Jones surviving a nuclear blast in a lead-lined fridge is viewed as proof that the franchise has run its course (similar to Fonzi’s Jump the Shark episode on Happy Days).</span></li>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span>Hmong (Gran Torino) – The name of the mountain-dwelling peoples of Laos who were US Allies in the Indochinese Wars of the 1960-70s.<span>  </span>Pronounced with a silent ‘h’:<span>  </span>mong.</span></li>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span>Twinkie Defense (Milk) – The apocryphal outcome of the trial 1979 trial of Dan White, the former San Francisco Supervisor who killed both Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone.<span>  </span>The term was never actually used in the trial but was picked up in the media as a stand-in for ‘diminished capacity’.</span></li>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span><span>Djembe (The Visitor) – West African percussion instrument that Tarek teaches Walter.</span></span></li>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span><span>There are no coincidences (Kung Fu Panda) – Oogway’s solemn pronouncement to Master Shifu</span></span></li>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span>What doesn’t kill you makes you … stranger (The Dark Knight) – The Joker’s twist on the famous Nietzsche epigram.</span></li>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span>Posthumous (The Wrestler) – Yes, that really was Mickey Rourke as a Best Actor nominee, well after he had been pronounced dead many a time.</span></li>
<li class=”MsoNormal”><span><span>Katrina (Benjamin Button) – The ominous and pervasive threat of Katrina framing the movie demonstrates the depth to which the hurricane has penetrated the American subconscious.</span></span></li>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span> </span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>Previous Top HollyWord Winners:</span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>2007<span>     </span>“Call it, Friendo,” from “No Country for Old Men”</span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>2006<span>     </span>“High Five!!! Its sexy time!’ from “Borat!”</span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>2005<span>     </span>‘Brokeback’ from “Brokeback Mountain”</span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>2004<span>     </span>“Pinot” from “Sideways”</span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>2003<span>     </span>‘’Wardrobe malfunction” from Super Bowl XXXVIII</span></p>
<p class=”MsoNormal”><span>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.<span>  </span>The PQI is a weighted Index, factoring in: long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum, and velocity.<span>  </span></span></p>


For more information, call +1.512.815.8836 or email

CNN Sunday Morning 2008 Words of the Year

Words of the Year 2008


Hello, everybody, and good morning. This is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It is December 7th. I’m Betty Nguyen.


And good morning. I’m Richard Lui, in for T.J. Holmes. He’s off today.Thanks for starting your day with us on this Sunday…. We do have a top 10 list for you this morning. You know, it’s almost the end of the year.LUI: Yes, of course.

NGUYEN: So, we’re bringing you the top 10 words of 2008. Can you guess what some of them might be?

LUI: Yes. What would a year be without a top 10 list here? Our Josh Levs has that for us.

Josh, do you speak Phelpsian Chinglish?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Guys, I need to say (ph)… 



NGUYEN: What the heck is that? Can you bail us out from that one? I know bailout is one of the words.

LEVS: That was really good. Yes. Well, I’m going to try to do some Phelpsian bailout Chinglish for you now.

NGUYEN: All right.

LEVS: Let’s take a look. This is from Global Language Monitor. And it’s really interesting when they put this list every year.

Let’s just go to the first graphic because I want you to see what it is that we are starting off with. One to five: change, and then, bailout, Betty, just like you were saying. Three, Obamania. Not much of a surprise since I think we’ve said that on the air a few hundred times. Green — well, I was not — are you guys familiar with greenwashing?


LUI: No.

LEVS: I didn’t know greenwashing. Greenwashing is repositioning of products to stress its earth-friendly attributes. Basically trying to sell something claiming that it’s green, maybe greener than it is.

NGUYEN: OK. Hold on. Let me ask you this.

LEVS: Yes.

NGUYEN: If these are the top 10 words, why aren’t these words that we’re like, yes, I’ve heard that several times?

LEVS: I know. And I’ll tell you how they go about coming up with the list.


LEVS: I want to show you the other five. This is what they do. They look at — here I tell you exactly from here — basically, they look at words and phrases used in media on the Internet and they also look at how often they’re used in major news media.

So, for example, I saw that there is greenwashing. So, I wonder, do we use greenwashing a lot? Check it out. I do a search for greenwashing on Apparently, we do. It’s one of our stories. LUI: Oh.

NGUYEN: Really?

LEVS: And over here is a video that we have all about greenwashing from our eco-solutions unit.

LUI: Guilty as charged.


LEVS: I guess I’m not watching enough of our stuff.

Let’s check out six through 10.


LEVS: I want to show you, guys, the rest of this, it’s great stuff. Derivative is at the top.

LUI: Oh, no. I’m going to do use that one.


NGUYEN: Oh, the dreaded subprime, foreclosure, yikes.

LEVS: and this is where we get the Phelpsian and Chinglish. Now, Phelpsian, we know Phelpsian is a huge feat that’s never been done before. But Chinglish is, I’ll tell you how they define it, the often amusing Chinese-English language hybrid that Beijing tried to stamp out before the Olympics began. Apparently, Beijing didn’t want people speaking a lot of Chinglish when the world arrived there.

LUI: Yes.

LEVS: So, apparently, they got rid of it.

One more thing to show you, guys. Top phrases of the year.


LEVS: I’ll show you this really quick then I’m going to go.

All right. Number one: Financial tsunami. Two: Global warming. Three: Yes we can. No shocker. Four: Lame Duck. And five, working class whites. They say apparently that’s been used as a code word for whites who are working class. More information, language monitor… 

NGUYEN: How is it a code word because it says working class whites — it’s right there?

LEVS: Exactly, not even a code word.

LUI: I’ve got one for you, Josh, that you should have put on that list — fact check.

LEVS: Fact check, reality check.

NGUYEN: Oh, yes. Or the truth squad. Any of those.

LEVS: You know, I should have thought of that. I’m calling the language monitor and say it throughout the year. Watch out, buddy.

NGUYEN: All right, get on it.

LUI: Get hopping, my friend.

NGUYEN: Thank you, Josh.





Obama as a Top Word of the Year

Austin, TX December 5 2008 – In an election cycle known for its many twists and turns, another unexpected result pops up in calculating the Top Words of 2008.  According to the analysis performed by the Global Language Monitor’s (, the word ‘change’ was the Top Word of 2008, followed by ‘bailout’ and ‘Obamamania’.


“However, it is interesting to note,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM, “that if you included ‘obama-’ as a root word or word stem, Obama- in its many forms (ObamaMania, Obamamentum, Obmanomics, Obamacize, Obamanation, and even O-phoria and Obamalot as a stand-in for JFK’s Camelot, etc.), would have overtaken both change, and bailout for the top spot.


In a year of footnotes, GLM felt it important to add this interesting linguistic twist to the historical record.”


Obama’s oft cited refrain, “Yes, we can!”  was ranked third as Phrase of the Year, following “financial tsunami” and “global warming.”


Barack Obama was ranked the Top Name of the Year, followed by George W. Bush and Michael Phelps, the Olympic 8-time gold medal winner.


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, factoring in long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum and velocity.


For more information on the Top Words of the Year, go here.


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, or visit

Top Words of ’08: Change beats Bailout and ObamaMania

Change beats Bailout and Obamamania as top word of 2008


Financial Tsunami is Top Phrase, Barack Obama is Top Name


Austin, TX December 1, 2008 – Change is the Top Word,  Financial Tsunami is Top Phrase, and Barack Obama is Top Name atop the Global Language Monitor’s ( annual global survey of the English language.

The estimated number of words in the English language stands at 998,751, just 1,249 from the million-word mark.

“Global English has been driven by three notable events during the course of 2008:  The US Presidential Election, the Financial Tsunami, and the Beijing Olympics.” said Paul JJ Payack, President of The Global Language Monitor. For 2008 our words were culled from throughout the English-speaking world which now numbers some 1.58 billion speakers and includes such diverse cultures as India, China, Philippines, and the EuroZone.

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, factoring in long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum and velocity.

The top words for 2007 were all ‘green’ oriented:  Hybrid was the Top Word, the Top Phrase was Climate Change, and the Top Name was Al Gore.(who won the Nobel Prize) for his efforts on Global Warming through ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. In an odd twist of history, Gore also won an academy award for the film.

The Top Word for 2006 were ‘sustainable,’ the Top Phrase was ‘Stay the Course’ (President Bush repeatedly describing his Iraq Strategy), and the Top Name was Dafur.

The Top Ten Words of 2008

  1. Change – The top political buzzword of the 2008 US Presidential campaign.
  2. Bailout – Would have been higher but was not in the media until Mid-September.
  3. Obamamania – Describing the worldwide reaction to Barack Obama’s campaign and subsequent victory in the US presidential race.
  4. Greenwashing – Repositioning a product to stress its Earth-friendly attributes.
  5. Surge – Military and political strategy often cited as reducing violence in Iraq.
  6. Derivative – Exotic financial instruments used to cleverly package junk-grade debt.
  7. Subprime – Mortgages that were packaged as derivatives.
  8. Foreclosure – The end-result of the sub-prime mess.
  9. Phelpsian:  New word coined to describe the Phelpsian Pheat of winning eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.
  10. Chinglish – The often amusing Chinese/English language hybrid that Beijing tried to stamp out before the Olympics began.

 The Top Ten Phrases of 2008

  1. Financial Tsunami – Worldwide financial meltdown ultimately stemming from derivatives used to package subprime mortgages.
  2. Global Warming – The No. 2 buzzword of the US Presidential Campaign.
  3. Yes We Can — Yes, indeed, he could and he did.
  4. Lame Duck – What happens when you wait 2 ½ months from election to inauguration.
  5. Working Class Whites – Apparently, working Class Whites is used as a code word for whites who are working class. 
  6. “It is, what it is” – On everyone’s lips this year meaning ‘unfortunately, those are the facts’.
  7. Lip Synching:  The fate of Lin Miaoke, the little girl who didn’t sing the song the whole world sings in the Olympics opening ceremony.
  8. Price of oil – Oil was supposed to topping out about now at $200/barrel.
  9. Super Tuesday – When the race for the Democratic nomination was supposed to be decided.
  10. Suddenness Happens – Top Chinglish Phrase from the Beijing Olympics.

The Top Ten Names for 2008

  1. Barack Obama –. President-elect of the United States.
  2. George W. Bush  Lame Duck, No. 43, The Decider.
  3. Michael Phelps — The top name of the top televison spectacle of all time (the Beijing Olympics)
  4. Hilary Clinton – She said ‘he can’t win;’ now she is his Secretary of State.
  5. Vladimir Putin – The supreme leader of Russia, whatever his title.
  6. Bono — U2′s front man also known for his efforts to raise awareness about AIDS in African, Third World debt and Unfair Trade practices.
  7. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  Iran now claims 5,000 nuclear centrifuges.
  8. Sarah Palin – Governor of Alaska and vice presidential nominee of the Republican party.
  9. John McCain – Soon to be the answer to a trivia question: Mondale, Dole, Dukakis ….
  10. Beyonce – The R&B singer AKA as Sasha Fierce.

The Top Celeb Couple:  Sarkozy and Carla Bruni – Big hit for his policies and her former supermodel status (replacing David Beckham and Posh Spice).

For more information, call 1.512.815.8836, email, or visit

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 ( 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, or visit




For more information, call 1.512.815.8836, email, or visit


Will the Beijing Olympics Finally Eradicate Chinglish?

Is this the End to ‘Deformed-man Toilets’ and ‘Racist Parks’

We think not.

Austin, Texas, USA.   July 30, 2008.   MetaNewswire.  There has been much publicity about Beijing’s vaunted attempt to eradicate Chinglish before the 2008 Games begin.  Menus at the top hotels have been replaced with standardized, albeit less poetic, versions (no more ‘exploding shrimp’.)

And many of the city’s traffic signs have been tamed (no more signposts to the Garden with Curled Poo).  “We have worked out 4,624 pieces of standard English translations to substitute the Chinglish ones on signs around the city,” said Lu Jinlan, head of the organizing committee of the Beijing Speaks Foreign Languages Programme (BSFLP).

Is this really the end of Chinglish, that delightful admixture of Chinese and English?

Studies by the Global Language Monitor suggest that Chinglish will persist – and even thrive – far after the Games have ended.

Chinglish is the outgrowth of several convening forces, including:

·    the widespread acceptance of English as a Global Language

·    the fact that some 250 million Chinese are currently studying English as a second, auxiliary or business language

·    he astonishing complexity and richness of the Mandarin language

·    the English language vocabulary is approaching the million word mark

·    The Chinese people evidently enjoy wearing Chinglish on their clothing

Mandarin has more than 50,000 ideograms each of which can be used to represent any number of words.  In addition, Mandarin is a tonal language meaning that tonal variations in pronunciation can distinguish one word from another.  Therefore attempting to map a precise ideogram to any particular word in the million-word English lexicon is a nearly impossible task.

The difficulty is further evidenced on the official Olympic website of the Beijing Olympic Games,, where it states that “we share the charm and joy of the Olympic Games”.  Hundreds of scholars have proofed the site and decided that the word charm is most appropriate in describing the Games.  In past Olympiads words such as ‘power’, ‘pride,’ ‘heroic,’ ‘majesty,’ ‘triumph,’ and, even, ‘tragedy’ frequently have been used to described the Olympic movement but the word ‘charm’ has largely been ignored.   Charm has a number of meanings including the ‘individuating property of quarks and other elementary particles’.  In this case, we assume the authorities were using the definition of charm as a transitive verb:  to attract or please greatly; enchant; allure; fascinate; or delight.

Finally, there is the on-going cross-pollination between English and Mandarin, with Chinglish at the epicenter of the movement.  Recently, the Ministry of Education (MOE) accepted some 171 neologisms into the Chinese language.   Words were considered only after they passed the scrutiny of a dozen scholars associated with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) Institute of Linguistics.  These included a new ideogram for ‘brokeback,’ a word popularized from the banned movie Brokeback Mountain to indicate ‘gay’.

You will find brokeback in few English-language dictionaries, but it already has been accepted into the Chinese.  Words passed over for formal entry, which despite their frequency of use were deemed inappropriate included:  “cool”, “zip it”, 3Q for “thank you” and “kick your ass”.

Recently, the Global Language Monitor listed its all-time favorite Chinglish words and phrases.  These included:

·         Deformed man toilet (handicapped restroom)

·         Airline Pulp (food served aboard airlines – no explanation necessary

·         The slippery are very crafty (slippery when wet)

·         If you are stolen, call the police

·         Do not climb the rocketry (rock wall)

Chinglish Adds Flavor to Alphabet Soup

2/19/2008 (China Daily)– San Diego-based consultancy group – Global Language Monitor claims Chinglish is adding the most spice to the alphabet soup of today’s English by contributing more words than any other single source to the global language.

And the more Chinese I learn, the more appetizing this seems.

Subscribing to the Elizabethan definition of a word as “a thing spoken and understood”, GLM is using a predictive quantities indicator (PQI) to scan the Web for emergent English words and track their mainstream use over time.

As GLM president Paul JJ Payack says: “Language colors the way you think. Thinking in Chinese is completely different.”

And every day that I learn more Chinese, the more vibrant this coloration becomes in my mind. This is mostly because of the descriptive nature of the language, in which many words are created by mixing and matching diasylobolic words to create new diasylobolic words.

Generally speaking, English is more definitional, so its words are more terminological than descriptive. For example, a “spider” is a spider – the word in itself tells you nothing about what it represents. But the Chinese word for spider (zhizhu) literally translates as “clever insect” – a description it earns in Chinese by spinning intricate webs to ensnare prey.

In Chinese, you don’t ride a bike, bus or train; you instead respectively ride a (zixinche) “self-walk vehicle”, a (gonggongqiche) “public all-together gas vehicle” or a (huoche) “fire vehicle”.

A massage is a (anmo) “press and touch”. A pimple is a (qingdou) “youth bean”. Investing is to (touzi) “throw funds”. And when you don’t make your money back, the disappointment is conveyed directly as (saoxing) “sweep interest”.

While linguists ballyhoo English’s capacity for specificity, this has in some ways become its weakness, as the definitional often trumps the descriptive, with wonderful exceptions, such as “rainbow”. But that’s where the other widely vaunted strength of the language – its capacity to ravenously gobble up other languages’ words – could become a beautiful thing. And I’m glad to know the English language is developing a growing taste for Chinese food.

In the 1960s, there were about 250 million English speakers, mostly from the United States, the United Kingdom and their former colonies.

Today, the same number of Chinese possesses some command of the language, and that number is growing. One possibility is the plethora of localized “lishes”, such as Chinglish, Hinglish (a Hindi-English hybrid) and Spanglish (an English-Spanish hybrid) could branch so far from English, they become mutually unintelligible tongues sharing a common root, much as Latin did in Medieval Europe.

Many linguists agree that if the lishes splinter, Chinglish will likely become the most prominent offshoot by virtue of sheer numbers, giving Chinese primary ownership of the language.

Perhaps then, English could become more beautiful than I could now describe – at least with its currently existing words. (Contributed by China Daily)

The Million Word March. Fueled by Chinglish?

‘No Noising’ and ‘Airline Pulp’ named Top Chinglish Words

San Diego, Calif. November 22, 2006. ‘No Noising’ and ‘Airline Pulp’ have been named the Top Chinglish Words of 2006 in The Global Language Monitor’s annual survey of the Chinese-English hybrid words known more commonly as Chinglish. Though often viewed with amusement by the rest of the English-speaking world, The Chinglish phenomenon is one of the prime drivers of Globalization of the English Language.

The Annual Survey by the Global Language Monitor

“The importance of Chinglish is the fact that some 250,000,000 Chinese are now studying, or have studied, English and their impact (and imprint) upon the language cannot be denied,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and The WordMan of the Global Language Monitor. “Since each Chinese ideogram can have many meanings and interpretations, translating ideas into English is, indeed, difficult. Nevertheless, the abundance of new words and phrases, unlikely as this may seem, can and will impact Global English as it evolves through the twenty-first century”.

With the English Language marching steadily toward the 1,000,000 word mark, there are now some 1.3 billion speakers with English as their native, second, business or technical tongue. In 1960, the number of English Speakers hovered around 250,000,000 mainly located in the UK and its Commonwealth of former colonies, and the US.

Some scholars maintain that you cannot actually count the number of words in the language because it is impossible to say exactly what a word is, talking rather of memes and other linguistic constructs, are afraid that Global English is just another form of cultural Imperialism. GLM take the classic view of the language as understood in Elisabethan England, where a word was ‘a thing spoken’ or an ‘idea spoken’.

Others say that English is undergoing a rebirth unlike any seen since the time of Shakespeare, when English was emerging as the modern tongue known to us today. (Shakespeare, himself, added about 1700 words to the Codex.) English has emerged as the lingua franca of the planet, the primary communications vehicle of the Internet, high technology, international commerce, entertainment, and the like.

Chinglish is just one of a number of the -Lishes, such as Hinglish (Hindu-English hydrid) and Singlish, that found in Singapore. A language can best be view as a living entity, where it grows just like any other living thing and is shaped by the environment in which it lives. With the continuing emergence of China on the world stage — and with the Olympics coming to Beijing in 2008, the state is now attempting to stamp-out some of the more egregious examples of Chinglish.

In its annual survey the Global Language Monitor has selected from hundreds of nominees, the top Chinglish words and Phrases of 2006.

The Top Chinglish Words and Phrases of 2006 follow:

1. “No Noising”. Translated as “quiet please!”

2. “Airline pulp.” Food served aboard an airliner.

3. “Jumping umbrella”. A hang-glider.

4. “Question Authority”. Information Booth.

5. “Burnt meat biscuit.” No it’s not something to enjoy from the North of England but what is claimed to be bread dipped in a savory meat sauce.

Bonus: GLM’s all-time favorite from previous surveys: “The Slippery are very crafty”. Translation: Slippery when wet!

Independent News (London): Chinglish Phrases on the Rise

People’s Daily (China): Global Language Monitor: Many Chinglish into English

The Sunday Times (London): Chinglish: It’s a word in a million

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Chinese Translation Exam Features GLM (Section 7)

Chinglish one of the Top Words of 2005

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Why a Green Word Was Chosen as Word of the Year (WOTY)

google news comment

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

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

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

We, of course, are honored by the competition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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