Pandora from Avatar Wins Top HollyWord of 2009

Beats out ‘Hurt Locker’ from The Hurt Locker,

‘Barley Pop’ from Crazy Heart, ‘Vampire’ from Twilight and

‘‘Squeakquel’ from Alvin and the Chipmunks.

7th Annual Global Survey by the Global Language Monitor

Austin, TX. March 12, 2010.  ‘Pandora’ from James Cameron’s Avatar tops the 2009 list of words from Hollywood that most influenced the English Language in 2009 released by the Global Language Monitor.  Closely following were ‘Hurt Locker’ from The Hurt Locker, ‘Barley Pop’ from Crazy Heart, ‘Vampire’ from Twilight and ‘‘Squeakquel’ from Chipmunks.  Rounding out the Top Ten were:  ‘December 21st, 2012’ from the film 2012, ‘Vichy’ from Inglorious Basterds, ‘Her’ from Star Trek, ‘Their’s but to do or die’ from The Blind Side, and ‘Prawns’ from District 9.

Each year, GLM announces the Top Hollywords in conjunction with the annual Oscar ceremony.  The 82nd Annual Academy Awards was held last Sunday at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.

“Last year the top word, ‘Jai Ho!’ was from the other side of the planet; this year it’s from across the Galaxy,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor.  “In an especially rich year for language, we are also see a slang term for beer, a calendar date, perhaps, the first politically incorrect word for space aliens, and a neologism created for children.”

The Top Hollywords of the 2009 with the largest impact on the English language with commentary follow.

Rank/Word/Film/Comment

1.       Pandora (Avatar) – There are 1,000 words in Na’vi language specifically constructed for Avatar, but the name of the alien planet is originally from classical Greek meaning ‘all blessings or gifts’.  The Pandora’s Box myth has the first mortal woman opening a box that holds all the ills of the world, which inadvertently escape.  A later version has all the blessings of the world escape except for hope, which remains.

2.       Hurt Locker (The Hurt Locker) – In GI vernacular, explosions send you into the ‘hurt locker’, synonymous with ‘a world of hurt’.

3.       Barley Pop (Crazy Heart) – Bad Blake’s reference to beer; similar to ‘oat soda’ and the like.

4.       Vampire (Twilight) – The living dead are enjoying an unprecedented revival in the 21st Century.  Undoubtedly, PhD fodder for sociologists of the future.

5.       Squeakquel – Any movie that gets millions of kids (and parents) to use a neologism with two qq’s in it, should be noted in an influential word list.

6.       December 21, 2012 (2012) – According to some, the end of the world so marked by the Mayan Calendar; actually it is simply the first day of the 14th b’ak’tun in the Long Count calendar of the Maya.

7.       Vichy (Inglorious Basterds) – Shosanna Dreyfus’ suggestion to Frederick on where to find ‘girlfriends’.  Yet another generation is introduced to the seemier side of the Free France narrative.

8.       Her (Star Trek) – “These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her ongoing mission:  to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life-forms and new civilizations; to boldly go where no one has gone before.”  Several hundred years from now, though ‘man’ is replaced by ‘no one’ in the mission statement, starships apparently proudly maintain their female gender status, ‘Her’.

9.       ‘Their’s but to do or die’  (The Blind Side) – Sean Tuohy teaches Charge of the Light Brigade to Michael.  When was the last time you recall the words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson being recited in a football movie — or anywhere else for that matter?

10.   Prawns (District 9) – Politically incorrect name for Space Aliens in District 9, since they seem to resemble crayfish, crawfish, or crawdads.

Previous Top HollyWord Winners:

2008     “Jai Ho!” Literally ‘Let there be Victory’ in Hindi from “Slumdog Millionaire”

2007     “Call it, Friendo,” from “No Country for Old Men”

2006     “High Five!!! Its sexy time!’ from “Borat!”

2005     ‘Brokeb ack’ from “Brokeback Mountain”

2004     “Pinot” from “Sideways”

2003     “Wardrobe Malfunction” from Super Bowl XXXVIII

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.



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