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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 CNN.com. 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.