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World Cup 2010’s Dubious Linguistic Achievement

Vuvuzela accepted into English language lexicon

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.

WHAT A HOOT: Vuvuzela has won global recognition

Read More

EC Multilingualism News — Can you say Eyjafjallajoekull?

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A Texas-based language expert group said Eyjafjallajoekull, the Icelandic volcano paralysing air traffic recently, appears 2 million times on Google but can be pronounced by only 320,000 people.

Eyjafjallajökull

Paul J.J. Payack, president and chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor, said Eyjafjallajoekull is unlikely to appear in English-language dictionaries anytime soon.

Did you know?

There are many examples of proper names becoming common words, including caesarian section, named after Julius Caesar, who was ‘plucked from his mother’s womb’ or saxophone after its Belgian inventor Adolphe Sax. Such words are called ‘eponyms’ and are quite common in all languages. Eyjafjallajoekull, however, is unlikely to make such a career.

The Global Language Monitor in Austin, Texas, documents, analyzes and tracks trends in language the world over, with a particular emphasis upon Global English.

Find out about the correct pronunciation of Eyjafjallajoekull and many other interesting things related to the media, words and the impact of language on various aspects of culture on the website of the Global Language Monitor.

Watch this video to polish your pronunciation of Eyjafjallajoekull.

Iceland’s volcano a mouthful to say

CNN
By Tom Watkins, CNN
April 21, 2010 — Updated 0423 GMT (1223 HKT)
Click to play
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Media outlets differ on pronunciation
  • Google search finds more than 2.5 million citations for the word

(CNN) — An event as big as a volcano that disrupts transportation around the globe might be expected to have its name added to the English lexicon, perhaps meaning “to cause widespread disruption,” an English-language monitor said Tuesday.

“People talk about a ‘Krakatau,’ right?” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor, in a telephone interview. He was referring to the 1883 eruption of a volcano in Indonesia that unleashed a tsunami that killed more than 34,000 people.

Payack’s Austin-Texas-based monitor analyzes and catalogues trends in word usage and word choices and their impact on culture, with an emphasis on English.

“Tsunami” itself has gained in usage since the 2004 South Asia event that left 245,000 people dead or missing across the region, said Payack.

“When prices collapsed economically, the first thing that they called it was an ‘economic tsunami,'” he said.

But what happens when that volcano’s name is Eyjafjallajokull, as in the Icelandic volcano whose ash clouds have grounded thousands of flights worldwide?

Payack was not optimistic. “I’ve never heard anybody pronounce it right yet, and I couldn’t even try,” he said.

“There are very few words that appear millions of times in print yet can be pronounced by so few.”

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–Paul J.J. Payack, president of Global Language Monitor

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Eyjafjallajoekull: What happens if a volcano erupts and no one can pronounce its name?

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Austin, Texas, April 20, 2010 — Eyjafjallajoekull , the Icelandic volcano that has been disrupting airborne transportation systems around the globe, would ordinarily stand an excellent chance of becoming an English language word at some time in the future, perhaps meaning to cause widespread disruption.  A word that evolves from a name is called an eponym.  Eyjafjallajoekull is already cited some two million times on Google. But a larger question arises: can a word enter the English language if only 320,000 can pronounce it (and most of those are citizens of Iceland)?

“A dictionary contains the spoken words in a language and those used in the written form of the spoken language known as exposition,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor.  “However, there are very few words that appear millions of times in print yet can be pronounced by so few.”

Over the course of its 1400-year old history, scores of proper names have moved into the English language.  Examples include caesarian section, named after Julius Caesar, who was ‘plucked from his mother’s womb’; cardigan sweater, worn by the 7th Earl of Cardigan (who also led the Charge of the Light Brigade); and shakespearean, a supreme literary accomplishment named after the Bard, among many others.  There are approximately 1.53 billion English speakers that can readily pronounce each of these.  Eyjafjallajoekull is another matter entirely.

For the record, Eyjafjallajoekull is pronounced ay-yah-FYAH-plah-yer-kuh-duhl.

Snowmageddon & Snowpocalypse accepted into English Lexicon

Recent East Coast storms push words over qualifying criteria

Austin, Texas,  February 10, 2010 – Snowmageddon and Snowpocalypse have been accepted into English language lexicon, after an unusual string of recent East Coast blizzards pushed the words over the qualifying criteria, according to Austin-based Global Language Monitor.

“Though there is no official agency for accepting new words (or neologisms) into the English Lexicon, the Global Language Monitor since 2003 has been recognizing new words once they meet the criteria of a minimum number of citations across the breadth of the English-speaking world, with the requisite depth of usage on the Internet and in the global print and electronic media,”  said Paul J Payack, president and chief word analyst of GLM.  “Snowmageddon and Snowpocalypse both crossed those threshholds earlier today with a reference to the string of East Coast blizzards, and are currently being widely used in the global media in dozen of languages today.”

The word ‘Snowpocalypse’ is a combination of ‘portmanteau’ word linking ‘snow’ with ‘apocalypse’.  Apocalypse, itself, can be traced to the ancient Greek word apokalyptein meaning to ‘uncover, restore, reveal or disclose’ (hence the name of the final book of the New Testament).  ‘Snowpocalypse’  has hundreds of thousands of citation over the last few years, first exemplified use by Playstation gamers in early 2006.  The words apocalypse and apocalyptic are both frequent expressions of the global media especially when used in reference to any cataclysmic event such as the South Asian Tsunami or the inundation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, as GLM then noted.

‘Snowmageddon’ is another portmanteau word that ultimately can be traced to  the same source. The Greek word Harmagedōn and its Hebrew counterpart har məgiddô both refer to the ancient settlement of Megiddo, which stood astride important Middle Eastern trade routes and was subsequently the scene of many important historical battles.  The word ‘Armageddon’ has come to be associated in the popular mind with any end-of-the-world scenario, such as portrayed in the movie of the same name, starring Bruce Willis.  ‘Snowmageddon’ has hundreds of thousands of usages over the last few years, exemplified by its publication in The Oregonian in December 2006 (and recent remarks by President Obama earlier this month).