“Enough grit and arrogance to drive you mad …”

By Barry Ronge, The Times (Jo-burg, ZA).  July 24, 2011 –

We probably have enough words in our dictionaries to say anything that is worth saying, but things change and new words are created and, occasionally, older words slip back into fashion.

“The Global Language Monitor”, run by Paul JJ Payack, tracks the rise and fall of trend-words and phrases. Most of these fade rapidly when the fad that created them loses it’s social currency.

Have you recently heard anyone talking about Generation X? Probably not, because that social group has morphed into the social network, where they can “google” things, find friends on Facebook or start “poking” people on the internet.

These buzz words define the mood and style of the time, just as fashion houses and leisure industries do. Buzz words such as “disco mania”, “big hair”, “glitzy” and “high rollers” defined the excessive 1980s, just as “dropping out” and “peaceniks” are nostalgic souvenirs of the hippies and their flower-power revolution.

Mr Payack’s researchers collect these words and it goes without saying that the movies feature prominently. When a great title or a line of dialogue finds a life of its own, it becomes a pop-culture icon for the era.

For example, it has been 40 years since Clint Eastwood said: “Make my day!” and 39 years since Marlon Brando said: “Make him an offer he can’t refuse” – but both phrases are still current.

Payack’s team also came up with the term “wardrobe malfunction” when Janet Jackson gained unexpected exposure at the 2004 Super Bowl. The phrase was revived when Lady Gaga flashed a nipple in Sydney, Australia. It’s amazing how her elaborate costume seemed to vanish when a little pink nipple popped out and made a far bigger statement than the dress itself.

Now Payack’s team reveal their “8th Annual Global Survey of HollyWords of 2010″, a list of the current words and phrases that resonated through the movie scene.

The most frequently-used “HollyWord” of last year is “grit”, obviously related to the success of the re-make of True Grit. The film picked up a raft of nominations but ended up with just one award. Nonetheless, Payack’s team found “grit” cropping up in many reviews and features.

Webster’s Dictionary defines “grit” as “pluck, courage, perseverance and an indomitable spirit”.

The words “grit” and “gritty” featured prominently in hundreds of reviews and interviews about True Grit, in which Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld displayed enormous toughness and tenacity. They brought “grit” back into currency.

“Grit” also migrated into reviews and discussions of The Fighter, a boxing drama based in a working-class area that was constantly described as “gritty”, as was James Franco’s harrowing mountaineering ordeal in 127 Hours. The Oscar-winner The King’s Speech looked beyond the pomp and circumstance and found remarkable “grit” in a king of England. Even Toy Story 3, a tale of abandoned toys trying to avoid being turned into garbage, were praised for their “grit”, courage and loyalty.   [Read More.]


Do these 15 Wonderful Words Actually Have No English Equivalent?

San Francisco.  July 24, 2011  –  We first saw the story, 15 Wonderful Words With No English Equivalent, on the MentalFloss outlet (a genuinely interesting site for esoterica lovers), compiled by Bill DeMain.  His attribution states that “many of the words above can be found in BBC researcher Adam Jacot de Boinod’s book ‘The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World.”

In the last few days we have tracked it thousands of times around the English speaking world, which now happens to encompass the globe. We are intrigued by the idea that there, indeed, might be no equivalent English words or phrases for these terms.

After all there are as of today, July 24th, 2011 the Global language Monitor calculates  that there are approximately 1,010,649.7 words in the English language.  (The language gains a new word every ninety-eight minutes, hence the, we admit, totally extraneous decimal point.)

So here’s the challenge to lovers of the language.  Do these 15 Wonderful Words Actually Have No English Equivalent?

Send us your suggestions to:  15WonderfulWords@LanguageMonitor.com, and we will publish what our readers come up with.

Here’s the list original story:

15 Wonderful Words With No English Equivalent

by Bill DeMain, July 22, 2011

The Global Language Monitor estimates that there are currently 1,009,753 words in the English language. Despite this large lexicon, many nuances of human experience still leave us tongue-tied. And that’s why sometimes it’s necessary to turn to other languages to find le mot juste. Here are fifteen foreign words with no direct English equivalent.

1. Zhaghzhagh (Persian)
The chattering of teeth from the cold or from rage.

2. Yuputka (Ulwa)
A word made for walking in the woods at night, it’s the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin.

3. Slampadato (Italian)
Addicted to the infra-red glow of tanning salons? This word describes you.

4. Luftmensch (Yiddish)
There are several Yiddish words to describe social misfits. This one is for an impractical dreamer with no business sense. Literally, air person.

5. Iktsuarpok (Inuit)
You know that feeling of anticipation when you’re waiting for someone to show up at your house and you keep going outside to see if they’re there yet? This is the word for it.

6. Cotisuelto (Caribbean Spanish)
A word that would aptly describe the prevailing fashion trend among American men under 40, it means one who wears the shirt tail outside of his trousers.

7. Pana Po’o (Hawaiian)
“Hmm, now where did I leave those keys?” he said, pana po’oing. It means to scratch your head in order to help you remember something you’ve forgotten.

8. Gumusservi (Turkish)
Meteorologists can be poets in Turkey with words like this at their disposal. It means moonlight shining on water.


9. Vybafnout (Czech)
A word tailor-made for annoying older brothers—it means to jump out and say boo.

10. Mencolek (Indonesian)
You know that old trick where you tap someone lightly on the opposite shoulder from behind to fool them? The Indonesians have a word for it.

11. Faamiti (Samoan)
To make a squeaking sound by sucking air past the lips in order to gain the attention of a dog or child.

12. Glas wen (Welsh)
A smile that is insincere or mocking. Literally, a blue smile.

13. Bakku-shan (Japanese)
The experience of seeing a woman who appears pretty from behind but not from the front.

14. Boketto (Japanese)
It’s nice to know that the Japanese think enough of the act of gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking to give it a name.

15. Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, grief bacon.

Remember to send us your suggestions for English-language equivalents to:  15WonderfulWords@LanguageMonitor.com or info@LanguageMonitor.com.

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Number of Words in the English Language: 1,025,109.8

The number of words in the English language is: 1,025,109.8.   This is the estimate by the Global Language Monitor on January 1, 2014.

The English Language passed the Million Word threshold on June 10, 2009 at 10:22 a.m. (GMT).  The Millionth Word was the controversial ‘Web 2.0′. Currently there is a new word created every 98 minutes or about 14.7 words per day.

Google Validates GLM’s No. of Words in English Prediction

GLM/Google vs OED and Webster’s 3rd

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For more detail, go here.

Though GLM’s analysis was the subject of much controversy at the time, the recent Google/Harvard Study of the Current Number of Words in the English Language is 1,022,000.  The above graphic is from the AAAS /Science as reported on NPR.   At the time the  New York Times article on the historic threshold famously quoted several dissenting linguists as claiming  that “even Google could not come up with” such a methodology.  At that time, unbeknownst to them Google was doing precisely that.

The number of words in the English language according to GLM now stands at:  1,025,109.8.   The difference between the two analyses is .0121%, which is widely considered statistically insignificant.

Google’s number, which is based on the counting of  the words in the 15,000,000 English language books it has scanned into the ‘Google Corpus,’ mirrors GLM’s Analysis.  GLM’s number is based upon its algorithmic methodologies, explication of which is available from its site.



Hubbub over ‘Haboob’ in Arizona?

Psst! So are Alcohol, Algebra, Chemistry, Guitars and Zeroes …


.

Hundreds of Words of Arabic Origin are Considered Authentic English language words

San Francisco.  July 22, 2011.  Haboobs, those dust storms invading the Southwestern United States these days, might be called as American as Apple Pie — or at least as English as fish and chips. The word,  according to an analysis by the Global Language Monitor conducted earlier this week, is actually considered an English-language word, found in unabridged dictionaries, hundreds of thousands of times on the Internet, and hundreds of times in the print media and scholarly works as least as far back as the 19th century.

When Arizona-based weather forecasters used ‘haboob’ to describe the fierce wind- and dust-storms their were immediate calls to stop use of that term since it is of Arabic in origin, and might be insulting to American and NATO forces stationed in Arabic-speaking lands.

“If you find that the word ‘haboob’ is inappropriate because of its Arabic origin, then you better start thinking about:

alcohol,

algebra,

chemistry,

guitar,

zero,

and the hundreds of other words of Arabic origin that are members in excellent standing in contemporary English, said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM.

“The English language has thousands upon thousands of words that it has ‘borrowed’  from hundreds of languages over its fourteen hundred year lifespan.  Unfortunately, once English ensnares one these ‘loan’ words, they seldom ever escape”.


Fighting Words: ‘Reliable,’ ‘Talented’ And Other Americanisms

by BILL CHAPPELL

In this free-wheeling era, when the English language is often applied with little supervision, it’s common for purists to complain about the abuse of words.

For instance, I dislike it when things are indicated instead of said. And impact gets rough treatment, as it’s transmogrified into a Franken-adjective (impactful) and is too often made to serve as a substitute for affect — probably by people who are unsure whether to use that word or effect.

And there should be a petition to remove the word literally from use, for at least a lengthy rehabilitation and perhaps a permanent retirement.

But I was surprised to learn that in 19th-century Britain, readers viewed words like lengthy and reliable as signs of the coming apocalypse. It turns out that those words, along with talented andtremendous, were imports from America.

As Matthew Engel writes at the BBC, “The poet Coleridge denounced ‘talented’ as a barbarous word in 1832, though a few years later it was being used by William Gladstone. A letter-writer to the Times, in 1857, described ‘reliable’ as vile.” [Read More]

What Started the “Two Way” discussion (Below)

By Matthew Engel I have had a lengthy career in journalism. I hope that’s because editors have found me reliable. I have worked with many talented colleagues. Sometimes I get invited to parties and meet influential people. Overall, I’ve had a tremendous time.

Lengthy. Reliable. Talented. Influential. Tremendous.

All of these words we use without a second thought were never part of the English language until the establishment of the United States.

The Americans imported English wholesale, forged it to meet their own needs, then exported their own words back across the Atlantic to be incorporated in the way we speak over here. Those seemingly innocuous words caused fury at the time.

The poet Coleridge denounced “talented” as a barbarous word in 1832, though a few years later it was being used by William Gladstone. A letter-writer to the Times, in 1857, described “reliable” as vile.

[Read More on the BBC]


Wednesday’s Words …


Top HollyWORDS: Grit tops Arrogance, Abdicate, Stammer, and Madness

As Summer Blockbuster Season Peaks, a Look Back at the Top Hollywords from 2010

 

8th Annual Global Survey by the Global Language Monitor

Austin, Texas.   July 12, 2011.   As summer blockbuster season peaks, a look back at the top words from the movies that influenced the English language from 2010.

For the first time a single word representative of a number of the year’s blockbusters, Grit, tops the list of Hollywords  as named by the Global Language Monitor.   Grit topped arrogance, abdicate, stammer, and madness.  Dream-stealers, nerds, Borogoves, shard, and 3-D rounded out the top ten.

“For the first time a single word was representative of a number of the year’s Oscar winning films,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst for the Global Language Monitor, “According to Webster’s the term, grit, has the following senses that applied to these films:  firmness, pluck, gritty (as in soot-covered), stubborn, indomitable spirit, courageous, and brave perseverance.”

The Top Hollywords of the 2010 season with the largest impact on the English language with commentary follow.

1.       The word grit has been defined in a number of ways by Webster that reflects many of the virtues of this year’s nominees.

  • Grit is, of course, from the title of Best Picture nominee True Grit, as exemplified by the character’s played by Jeff Bridges (firmness) and Hailee Steinfeld (pluck).
  • The action of The Fighter took place against the backdrop of one of the nation’s fabled gritty cities:  Lowell, Massachusetts into which Mark Wahlberg, Melissa Leo and Christian Bale expertly blended.
  • 127 Hours portrayed the stubborn courage of a man driven to desperate acts to ensure his survival.
  • The accidental and courageous king and his indomitable tutor as portrayed by Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in The King’s Speech.
  • Woody’s brave perseverance to keep his fellow toys together in Toy Story 3.

2.  Arrogance – Deftly depicted in both The Social Network and Inside Job.

3.  Abdicate – Another generation learns of cowardice in high places, again; this time it’s found in the British Royal Family as depicted in The King’s Speech.

4.  Stammer and/or Stutter  –  If you paid close attention you might actually notice the difference between a stammer and a stutter in Colin Firth’s dialogue.

5.  Madness – We are told there is no such thing as ‘madness’ in the 21st century, but whatever we may call it, in the Black Swan Natalie Portman’s creates a dramatic portrait of the descent into it.

6.  Dream-Stealers – (and dream shapers and sowers).  Evidently, new career options for the 21st century endless-recession economy introduced to us by Leonardo DiCaprio and his film Inception.  The timid need not apply.

7.  Nerd – Once more, we are fascinated by the rise of the nerd in The Social Network … though most nerds never overcome their nerdness, and only the most  rare of exceptions is able to cash in on it.

8.  Borogoves – Alice in Wonderland sheds a bit of light on the ‘borogoves’.   As you know, they were all ‘mimsy’ in Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s nonsense poem, Jabberwocky.


9.  Shard – Though widely confused with the word ‘shred’ as in a ‘shred of truth’, Harry Potter  finds  a mirror shard, in which he catches a glimpse of  a blue eye and keeps it for later use.  From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.

10.  3D CGI – (Three-dimensional, Computer-generated imagery) Five of the top ten grossing films of 2010 were CGI-based 3D, accumulating some $1.3B domestically:          Toy Story 3, Despicable Me, Shrek Forever After, How to Train Your Dragon, and Tangled. Whether this is a transformative trend or a passing fad has yet to be determined.

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.

Previous Top HollyWord Winners include:

2009       ‘Pandora’ from Avatar

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     ‘Brokeback’ from Brokeback Mountain

2004     “Pinot” from Sideways

2003       ‘Wardrobe malfunction’ from Super Bowl XXXVIII


All Things Sarah …

NY Times attributes ‘How’s that Working Out for You? to Sarah Palin?

According to Tom Kuntz in the New York Times’ Week in Review (June 18, 2011):

Refudiate this: Sarah Palin’s undeniable impact on the English language. Exhibit A, of course, is the idiom she lent wildfire currency to only last year, by asking at a Tea Party convention on Feb. 6, “How’s that hopey-changey stuff working out for ya?” Witness the meme’s broad cultural reach ever since and — perhaps unfortunate in some cases — its seemingly limitless versatility.

“How’s that working out for ya?” — Herman Cain in the first Republican presidential debate on May 5, belittling rule by Washington politicians.


“Someone really should borrow Sarah Palin’s question and ask [Prime Minister] David Cameron: ‘How’s that hopey-changey thing working out for ya?’ ” — The Observer, London, March 27

“Hey, seniors, how’s that no-tax thing been working out for ya?” — Letter to the editor, The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 10 …

[and it goes on to cite another half dozen instances]

The Global Language Monitor has traced back the meme at least to the 1999 film Fight Club; the phrase, no doubt, can be traced much earlier.


Proof of Literary Greatness?

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).


John McWhorter on Palin’s ‘remarkedly lucid prose’

 

Palin’s Emails: What Her Remarkably Lucid Prose Says About the Art of Teaching Writi

  • John McWhorter
  • June 16, 2011 | 12:00 am

Sarah Palin’s emails are telling us something about remedial writing classes at our universities and colleges, and it’s not what you think. Call her defensive or parochial based on the cache of her spontaneous writings while serving as governor of Alaska, but

something easy to miss is that Palin, in contrast to her meandering, involuted speaking style, is a thoroughly competent writer—more so than a great many people most of us likely know, including college graduates.

Indeed, her facility in writing proves something one might be pardoned for supposing she was exaggerating about in Going Rogue, her autobiography, in which she limns a childhood portrait of herself as a bibliophilic sort of tot:

Reading was a special bond between my mother and me. Mom read aloud to me – poetry by Ogden Nash and the Alaska poet Robert Service, along with snippets of prose …. My siblings were better athletes, cuter and more sociable than I, and the only thing they had to envy about me was the special passion for reading that I shared with our mother.

That’s right, Sarah “you betcha” Palin was, of all things, a bookworm, excited to learn to spell “different” and winning a poetry contest for a poem about Betsy Ross. And as such, it is predictable that her emails would evidence such casually solid command of the language—even if her oral rendition of it is a different matter entirely.

Once we understand that, it leads to some serious questions, as posed by books getting buzz at present such as Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s Academically Adrift and In the Basement of the Ivory Tower by the anonymous “Professor X.” How sensible is our assigning millions of freshmen each year to classes intended to teach them a skill so deeply rooted in unconscious facilitation at an early age?

To get a sense, it helps to see a few of these emails. Because email is written speech, it’s easy to miss artfulness in them. Yet, take this Palin passage: “Even CP has admitted locking up tax rates as Glenn suggests is unacceptable to the legislature, the Alaskan public, this administration, and the Constitution.”

The spelling is flawless—and unlikely to be completely a product of spell-check, which misses errors and often creates others. More to the point, she has an embedded clause (“locking up tax rates”) nested into a main one, with another clause “as Glenn suggests” nested within the embedded one. That’s good old-fashioned grammar school “syntax.” I have known plenty of people with B.A.s who could barely pull it off properly at gunpoint, and several others who would only bother to at gunpoint.

Equally graceful despite its mundane content: “Cowdery telling a kid what’s acceptable and what isn’t inside these four walls??? Puleeeze. A three-pound puppy vs. all the CBC crap that he helped dump around here?” You hear an actual human voice here. We tell some people “I can hear your voice in the way you write”—because it’s unusual for people to be able to “write” themselves. Palin is one of the people who can. [Read More.]


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