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A Short History of Chess: The Tangles of Time


Chess yields us, when we need them most, companions in our loneliness.”

— —Mu’ Tazz

By Paul JJ Payack

As masterful a player as Emmanuel Lasker regarded chess as neither an art nor a science but rather a war in which the pieces served as troops and the players the generals. This stemmed from the notion that chess was invented as a war game and so, that is the manner in which it should executed. Undoubtedly reality is reflected in the idea that chess originated either as an aid or substitute for warfare.

Lasker maintained that to understand its creation all that is needed is an understanding of the method of classical warfare. Lasker explained that opposing armies would take their positions in nearly straight lines separated by a nearly level plain. The generals, in order to make their plans comprehensible to their commanders, would sketch the original position and later movements of their pawns and men. Lasker was fond of using the Battle of Cannae, 216 BC, as an illustration. At Cannae, the Carthaginians under the command of Hannibal defeated a Roman force nearly twice their number with superior strategy.

Lasker thought that it was entirely possible that Hannibal not only drew lines and placed stones on a board to explain his stratagems, but did so on what would one day be called a chequer-board. This was given the now familiar shape of a square divided into sixty-four smaller squares, colored black and white alternately. Though Lasker’s contention that chess was invented as a game of war is undoubtedly true, he seems to have postdated its conception by some eight centuries and misplaced it by several worlds.

After a millennium passed in the Buddhist era, various references occur to a game that seems the direct forbear of present-day chess. According to Sanskrit literature, apart from the central king and counselor, the pieces represented the quadrants of the ancient Indian army: war chariots, cavalry, elephants, and foot soldiers. The Upper Basin of the Ganges, or thereabouts, was the locale where this game first appeared. Since the area was a Buddhist stronghold, it is not unreasonable to assume that their monks had a hand in its inception. Since Buddhists oppose the killing of any form of life, it can be hypothesized that the game was invented as a bloodless substitute for war (by allowing men to engage in a combat of a higher sort).

In this version the infantrymen moved as pawns of all times and places, excepting the modern two-square debut. The cavalrymen were placed and manipulated in the same manner as the knight. The elephants’ movements were diagonal and limited to two squares, therefore they were inherently weaker than the bishops into which they were later transformed. The chariots were equal in every respect to the castles which through some ripple in history came to be called rooks. And the counselor, beside the king, moved diagonally also and only one square per move; as time passed its powers were increased to that of the bishop, thereby considerably enhancing the complexity of the game.

Chess spread rapidly (in historical terms) from the Subcontinent to the curiously diverse cultures further west, each leaving ineradicable traces of their time and culture. Persia bestowed the name to the game. Words, unlike mathematical formulae, both lose and gain in their sojourn through time and place. Aside from the usual etymological eddies, the development of the name flowed as follows. The Persian shah “king” came through the Arabic and the tangles of time to Europe as, among other variations, the Old French (e)sches, plural of (e)schek “check” derived from “shah.” From there it was but a minor simplification to the Saxon and Modern English word “chess.”

The culmination of this bloodless substitute for bloodletting is the murder of the enemy king, although the modern game ends euphemistically with the checkmate. This term, too, can be traced through a millennium to Persia. Shah mat “checkmate” means ‘the king (shah) is dead,’ where “mat” is related to the Latin stem mort- “death” found in “mortuary.”

Within a generation of the Hegira, the Arabs conquered Persia in the sacred name of Mohammed. As is usually the case, the two cultures became inextricably entwined and from that time forward it was the Islamic culture that became the primary vehicle of chess. As the game was carried from land to land it underwent a series of transmutations, some surprising and some not so surprising at all.

The Elephant was reduced to its ears. That is it was simplified (for reasons of convenience and religion) to a lump of wood, with a cut extracted from its center. An item of far more interest concerns the Arab rukh which predates the English rook for crow. It is still a matter of some controversy whether the rook was actually a chariot, a bird, or even a ship. It is highly probable that in differing cultures in differing centuries it was each.

In Arabia there seems little doubt that the chariot was replaced by a moderately prominent member the then-current mythology. In Arabian Nights the rukh was an enormous bird of gigantic girth which was inordinately wide of wing; a vast magnification of the eagle or condor. In most variations, the bird had the ability to carry an elephant, and sometimes several, in its talons. The thread of interest that lies about and through all variations of the rukh myth is that it was, whatever else, a deadly enemy of the elephant. (Later, with the aristocratization of chess, the elephant would be transformed into an ecclesiastic.)

Soon chess was a commonplace throughout the world of Islam, from Andalus in the West to the Indus in the East. The Moors carried chess to the Iberian Peninsula during the eighth century of the Christian era, and the Eastern Empire in Byzantium also learned of the game before the century had waned. From Iberia it spread to the north of Europe, while Russia seems to have acquired the game directly from India. (In Russian chess bears its original name, shakh-maty.)

During the High Middle Ages chess became a leisure time activity of the feudal lords, and the pieces began to resemble the aristocracy. (The rukh became, curiously enough, a castle.) A knowledge of ‘Nights and Days’ was considered a social grace for every genteel and parfait knight. Obviously, one reason for this was the connection between chess and war. Soon the powers of certain pieces were increased,making the game much more lively or, if you prefer, deadly.

That lump of wood with the split was not recognized in Europe as an elephant. This was understandably so, since to the folks of medieval Europe an elephant was just as much a mythological creature as the rukh, and possibly more so. To those who were unaware of its esoteric meaning, the elephant, also suggested a bishop’s mitre, an old man, a count or a fool. To this day in French the man is called Le Fou “the fool” and it is diagramed as a cap and bells.

The English, however, were the first to introduce chess diagrams to printing and since the piece remained a bishop there (and in Iceland) the bishop’s mitre would soon become the worldwide standard. However, Germans use this now universal symbol for their laufer “runner” while Russians use the mitre for their slon “the elephant.”

The evolution of the king’s counselor into the queen has been attributed to the similarity of the Arabic word fere “advisor,” to the French vierge “maiden” but probably can be more simply attributed to the make-up of the feudal court. A parallel between the historical liberation of women and the glorification of Mary by the Church could also have been factors in the metamorphosis.

And finally, a mention should be made of pawns; those so adequately named pieces which are even denied the status of chess ‘men’. They are, without exception in all cultures, represented by conveniently small and humble objects. For these there seems a universal need. History: read it and weep.

There are some 1.7 x 10 to the 29th methods of playing the first ten moves of this ancient and storied game. (The Greeks, clever as they were, didn’t even possess a symbol or number for any number larger than ten to the fourth, a myriad.) This being so, it becomes comprehensible why, while chess has ebbed and flowed through history, it has never been successful as a method of channeling the human mind to that combat of a higher sort.

To be sure, there have been wars of every possible description since its inception some thirteen hundred years ago, and when the number of possible permutations is envisioned even in this relatively simple game, it becomes obvious why there is more than adequate room for that phenomenon, war, in the universal scheme of things.

This nightmare, even when contained by a square of sixty-four smaller squares, has the potential to continue in a million billion varying guises for eons on end (and still there would remain variations untried).



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Dictionaries

Is Merriam-Webster its own worst frenemy?

60% of new words in 2009 Collegiate were born before today’s college students

‘New’ words average age — 29 years

Austin, TX July 16, 2009, (MetaNewswire) – Is Merriam-Webster its own worst frenemy? The answer to that question can perhaps be answered by the upcoming release of its Collegiate DictionaryEleventh Edition with the addition of almost 100 new words and word meanings (or senses).

The ‘new’ words (with their dates of first usage) include:

New Word or TermFirst Usage

Carbon footprint 1999

Flash mob1977

Green-collar1990

Locavore2005

Memory foam1987

Missalette1977

Reggaeton2002

Sock puppet1959

Waterboarding2004

Webisode 1997

These are ‘new’ words only insofar as they were never included in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate, but on average, the words were coined more than 29 years ago (according to M-W’s own definitions).This compares with the average age of today’s college students in the mid-twenties (even with the recent shift to older students).

 

On the web, ‘waterboarding’ has some 2,000,000 references, ‘webisode’ about 5,000,000 and ‘sock puppet‘ some half million (according to Google).Last year ‘dark energy’ was added to the Collegiate Dictionary some ten years after it had become the subject of much scientific, philiosophical and popular debate.(It had about 10,000,000 references at the time.)

 

“This is perhaps why students are evermore turning to online resources to understand current affairs and class materials.The reality of today’s Internet-based communications means that new English-language words are appearing and being adopted at an ever-quickening pace,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor.“It is entirely possible some of these students heard or even used some of these words while they were still in grammar school”.

 

To celebrate the coming of age of English as the first, true, global language, The Global Language Monitor announced the 1,000,000th word to enter the English language on June 10, 2009.GLM estimates that a new word appears every 98 minutes, generated by the 1.5 billion people who now use English as a first, second or business language.

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Why Webster’s inclusion of the phrase ‘dark energy’

demonstrates the obsolescence of old-style dictionaries

Austin, TX July 8, 2008  -Recently, Merriam-Webster announced the new words it was including in its latest edition of its Collegiate Dictionary.  These announcements are often viewed as a subject of amusement, with such additions as “air quotes,” “mental health day,” and “malware” to name but three of the hundred or so words added this year.

What did not amuse us, however, was the addition of the phrase “dark energy”.  You see dark energy is the hypothetical entity that makes up nearly three-quarters of the energy-mass of the Universe.  Moreover, it is the suspected culprit in the speeding up of the expansion of the Universe, which for reasons unknown, began to radically accelerate some five billion years ago.  It is key to the current understanding (and investigation) of the theoretical construct of the Universe, how it began – and how it will end.

Students of physics, philosophy, and cosmography at fine institutions such as Bucknell, the University of Texas, CalTech, and Foothills Community College, among all the others worldwide, have been pondering the phenomenon of dark energy for nearly a dozen years now.  However, they couldn’t look it up in their Funk & Wagnalls (nor their Webster’s) until now – because it was not recognized as a bona fide word.

Clearly, the methodologies of old-style dictionaries, first formulated by  Dr. Johnson in the 18th century and Noah Webster at the dawn of the nineteenth, and carried on to this day by their immediate and legitimate successors, have run their course.

Students on wired campuses can google dark energy and see it come up in nearly 10,000,000 results.  It is clearly a recognized phrase, clearly used by millions across the planet, embedded in learned papers, scientific studies, and contemporary letters.  And yet it was still not considered a legitimate word or phrase of the English Language, until the honor was bestowed upon it by the esteemed editors of Merriam-Webster.

Perhaps, it is time to realize that not only the game but he playing field, itself, has been drastically altered.  The center no longer holds.  This is undoubtedly spured on by the interconnectedness and immediacy of the Internet, and the explosion of the English language which now has some 1.35 billion speakers.  Clearly, new words and phrases are being created at an ever increasing rate.  It is now time to recognize the worthy few in a time-worthy manner: in step with their creation, development, and subsequent dispersal into our ever-expanding tongue.

– Paul JJ Payack

Is Websters its Own Worst Frenemy?

60% of new words in 2009 Collegiate Dictionary update were born before today’s college students

‘New’ words average age — 29 years!?

Austin, TX July 16, 2009, (MetaNewswire) – Is Merriam-Webster its own worst frenemy? The answer to that question can perhaps be answered by the upcoming release of its Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition with the addition of almost 100 new words and word meanings (or senses).

The ‘new’ words (with their dates of first usage) include:

New Word or Term First Usage

Carbon footprint 1999

Flash mob 1977

Green-collar 1990

Locavore 2005

Memory foam 1987

Missalette 1977

Reggaeton 2002

Sock puppet 1959

Waterboarding 2004

Webisode 1997

These are ‘new’ words only insofar as they were never included in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate, but on average, the words were coined more than 29 years ago (according to M-W’s own definitions). This compares with the average age of today’s college students in the mid-twenties (even with the recent shift to older students).

On the web, ‘waterboarding’ has some 2,000,000 references, ‘webisode’ about 5,000,000 and ‘sock puppet‘ some half million (according to Google). Last year ‘dark energy’ was added to the Collegiate Dictionary some ten years after it had become the subject of much scientific, philiosophical and popular debate. (It had about 10,000,000 references at the time.)

“This is perhaps why students are evermore turning to online resources to understand current affairs and class materials.The reality of today’s Internet-based communications means that new English-language words are appearing and being adopted at an ever-quickening pace,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “It is entirely possible some of these students heard or even used some of these words while they were still in grammar school”.



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Is Merriam-Webster its own worst frenemy?

60% of new words in 2009 Collegiate were born before today’s college students

‘New’ words average age — 29 years

Austin, TX July 16, 2009, (MetaNewswire) – Is Merriam-Webster its own worst frenemy? The answer to that question can perhaps be answered by the upcoming release of its Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition with the addition of almost 100 new words and word meanings (or senses).  The average of these “new words” is twenty-nine years, according to Merriam-Webster’s itself.

The ‘new’ words (with their dates of first usage) include:

New Word or Term and First Usage

  • Carbon footprint 1999
  • Flash mob 1977
  • Green-collar 1990
  • Locavore 2005
  • Memory foam 1987
  • Missalette 1977
  • Reggaeton 2002
  • Sock puppet 1959
  • Waterboarding 2004
  • Webisode 1997

These are ‘new’ words only insofar as they were never included in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate, but on average, the words were coined more than 29 years ago (according to M-W’s own definitions). This compares with the average age of today’s college students in the mid-twenties (even with the recent shift to older students).

On the web, ‘waterboarding’ has some 2,000,000 references, ‘webisode’ about 5,000,000 and ‘sock puppet‘ some half million (according to Google). Last year ‘dark energy’ was added to the Collegiate Dictionary some ten years after it had become the subject of much scientific, philiosophical and popular debate. (It had about 10,000,000 references at the time.)

“This is perhaps why students are evermore turning to online resources to understand current affairs and class materials.The reality of today’s Internet-based communications means that new English-language words are appearing and being adopted at an ever-quickening pace,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “It is entirely possible some of these students heard or even used some of these words while they were still in grammar school”.

To celebrate the coming of age of English as the first, true, global language, The Global Language Monitor announced the 1,000,000th word to enter the English language on June 10, 2009. GLM estimates that a new word appears every 98 minutes, generated by the 1.5 billion people who now use English as a first, second or business language.

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Michael Jackson funeral tops John Paul II as No. 1 media funeral

No. 1 Michael Jackson; No. 2 Pope John Paul II; No. 3 Ronald Reagan; No. 4 Mother Teresa, No. 5 Princess Diana

Measured Global Print and Electronic Media from Day of Death to Day after Funeral since 1997

Austin, TX July 8, 2009– In an exclusive analysis performed by the Global Language Monitor, the death of Michael Jackson, the entertainment icon, has been found to be the Top Funeral in the Global Print and Electronic Media over the last dozen years . Jackson moved ahead of Pope John Paul II, whose funeral in 2005 previously set the standard.

The results follow:

  1. Michael Jackson, June 25 – July 8, 2009
  2. Pope John Paul II, April 2 – April 9, 2005
  3. Ronald Reagan, June 5 – June 10, 2004
  4. Mother Teresa, September 5 – September 14, 1997
  5. Princess Diana, August 31 – September 7, 1997

The death, aftermath, and funeral of Michael Jackson had some 18% more stories in the global print and electronic media than that of Pope John Paul II in 2005. The analysis covered the Top 5,000 print and electronic media sites, but excluded blogs and social media since they did not have a significant presence throughout the entire period of measurement.

“The death of Michael Jackson, and the media frenzy surrounding of its aftermath and his funeral, has moved Michael Jackson to the forefront of coverage of similar prominent deaths over the last dozen years,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of GLM.  Other prominent passings include those of Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, Princess Diana and Mother Teresa. “The strength (and depth) of the global media coverage only adds to his already significant legacy and shows no sign of abetting.”

When measured in terms total web presence, Jackson outdistances Ronald Reagan, at No. 2, by more a factor of 10.

The results follow:

  1. Michael Jackson, died in 2009
  2. Ronald Reagan, died in 2004
  3. Pope John Paul II, died in 2005
  4. Princess Diana, died in 1997
  5. Mother Teresa, died in 1997



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One Millionth Word Announced

Web 2.0 beats Jai Ho & N00b as 1,000,000th English Word

English passed the Million Word mark earlier today, June 10 at 10:22 am GMT

Word Number 1,000,001: Financial Tsunami

Austin, Texas June 10, 2009 – The Global Language Monitor today announced that Web 2.0 has bested Jai Ho, N00b and Slumdog as the 1,000,000th English word or phrase. added to the codex of fourteen hundred-year-old language. Web 2.0 is a technical term meaning the next generation of World Wide Web products and services. It has crossed from technical jargon into far wider circulation in the last six months. Two terms from India, Jai Ho! and slumdog finished No. 2 and 4. Jai Ho! Is a Hindi exclamation signifying victory or accomplishment; Slumdog is an impolite term for children living in the slums. Just missing the top spot was n00b, a mixture of letters and numbers that is a derisive term for newcomer. It is also the only mainstream English word that contains within itself two numerals. Just missing the final five cut-off,  was another technical term, cloud computing, meaning services that are delivered via the cloud. At its current rate, English generates about 14.7 words a day or one every 98 minutes.

‘Millionth English word’ declared

A US web monitoring firm has declared the millionth English word to be Web 2.0, a term for the latest generation of web products and services.

Matt Frei reports on English’s unique linguistic evolution and then spoke to Global Language Monitor’s Paul Payack who helped find this millionth English word.

SEE ALSO

BBC NEWS | Programmes | World News America | ‘Millionth English word’ declared

“As expected, English crossed the 1,000,000 word threshold on June 10, 2009 at 10:22 am GMT. However, some 400 years after the death of the Bard, the words and phrases were coined far from Stratford-Upon-Avon, emerging instead from Silicon Valley, India, China, and Poland, as well as Australia, Canada, the US and the UK,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “English has become a universal means of communication; never before have so many people been able to communicate so easily with so many others.”
The English language is now being studies by hundreds of millions around the globe for entertainment, commercial or scientific purposes. In 1960 there were some 250 million English speakers, mostly in former colonies and the Commonwealth countries. The future of English as a major language was very much in doubt. Today, some 1.53 billion people now speak English as a primary, auxiliary, or business language, with some 250 million acquiring the language in China alone.

These are the fifteen finalists for the one millionth English word, all of which have met the criteria of a minimum of 25,000 citations with the necessary breadth of geographic distribution, and depth of citations.
1,000,000: Web 2.0 – The next generation of web products and services, coming soon to a browser near you.
999,999: Jai Ho! – The Hindi phrase signifying the joy of victory, used as an exclamation, sometimes rendered as “It is accomplished”. Achieved English-language popularity through the multiple Academy Award Winning film, “Slumdog Millionaire”.
999,998: N00b — From the Gamer Community, a neophyte in playing a particular game; used as a disparaging term.
999,997: Slumdog – a formerly disparaging, now often endearing, comment upon those residing in the slums of India.
999,996: Cloud Computing – The ‘cloud’ has been technical jargon for the Internet for many years. It is now passing into more general usage.
999,995: Carbon Neutral — One of the many phrases relating to the effort to stem Climate Change.
999,994: Slow Food — Food other than the fast-food variety hopefully produced locally (locavores).
999,993: Octomom – The media phenomenon relating to the travails of the mother of the octuplets.
999,992: Greenwashing – Re-branding an old, often inferior, product as environmentally friendly.
999,991: Sexting – Sending email (or text messages) with sexual content.
999,990: Shovel Ready – Projects are ready to begin immediately upon the release of federal stimulus funds.
999,989: Defriend – Social networking terminology for cutting the connection with a formal friend.
999,988: Chengguan – Urban management officers, a cross between mayors, sheriff, and city managers.
999,987: Recessionista – Fashion conscious who use the global economic restructuring to their financial benefit.
999,986: Zombie Banks – Banks that would be dead if not for government intervention and cash infusion.
———————————————————————————————————
In addition, the 1,000,001st word is Financial Tsunami – The global financial restructuring that seemingly swept out of nowhere, wiping out trillions of dollars of assets, in a matter of months
Each word was analyzed to determine which depth (number of citations) and breadth (geographic extent of word usage), as well as number of appearances in the global print and electronic media, the Internet, the blogosphere, and social media (such as Twitter and YouTube). The Word with the highest PQI score was deemed the 1,000,000th English language word. The Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI) is used to track and analyze word usage.
Global Language Monitor has been tracking English word creation since 2003. Once it identifies new words (or neologisms) it measures their extent and depth of usage with its PQI technology. For more information call 512.815.8336.



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Millionth Word Finalists Announced

English Language Millionth Word Finalists Announced, including:  alcopops, bangster, de-friend, n00b, quendy-trendy, slumdog, and wonderstar

English to Pass Millionth Word June 10 at 10:22 am GMT

Million Word March Now Stands at 999,824

Austin, Texas May 29, 2009 – The Global Language Monitor today announced the finalists for the Million Word March.  The English Language will cross the 1,000,000 word threshold on June 10, 2009 at 10:22 am Stratford-Upon-Avon time.

“The Million Word milestone brings to notice the coming of age of English as the first, truly global Language”, said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor.  “There are three major trends involving the English language today: 1) An explosion in word creation; English words are being added to the language at the rate of some 14.7 words a day; 2) a geographic explosion where some 1.53 billion people now speak English around the globe as a primary, auxiliary, or business language; and 3) English has become, in fact, the first truly global language.”

Due to the global extent of the English language, the Millionth Word is as likely to appear from India, China, or East L.A.as it is to emerge from Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare’s home town). The final words and phrases under consideration are listed below.  These words represent each of the categories of Global English that GLM tracks, Since English appears to be adding a new word every 98 minutes or about 14.7 words a day, the Global Language Monitor is selecting a representative sampling.  You can follow the English Language WordClock counting down to the one millionth word at www.LanguageMonitor.com.

These words that are on the brink of entering the language as the finalists for the One Millionth English Word:

Australia:  Alchopops – Sugary-flavored mixed drinks very much en vogue.

Chinglish:  Chengguan –   Urban management officers, a cross between mayors, sheriff, and city managers.

Economics:  1) Financial Tsunami – The global financial restructuring that seemingly swept out of nowhere, wiping out trillions of dollars of assets, in a matter of months.  2) Zombie Banks – Banks that would be dead if not for government intervention and cash infusion.

Entertainment:  Jai Ho! — From the Hindi, “it is accomplished’ achieved English-language popularity through the multiple Academy Award Winner, “Slumdog Millionaire”.

Fashion: 1) Chiconomics – The ability to maintain one’s fashion sense (chicness) amidst the current financial crisis.  2) Recessionista – Fashion conscious who use the Global economic restructuring to their financial benefit; 3) Mobama – relating to the fashion-sense of the US First Lady, as in ‘that is quite mobamaish’.

Popular Culture:  Octomom (the media phenomenon of the mother of the octuplets).

Green Living:  1) Green washing – Re-branding an old product as environmentally friendly. 2) E-vampire – Appliances and machines on standby-mode, which continually use electrical energy they ‘sleep’. 3) Slow food: — Food other than the fast-food variety hopefully produced locally (locavores).

Hinglish:   Cuddies – Ladies’ underwear or panties.

Internet:  1) De-follow – No longer following the updates of someone on a social networking site.  2) De-friend – No longer following the updates of a friend on a social networking site; much harsher than de-following. 3) Web 2.0 – The next generation of web services.

Language: Toki Pona – The only language (constructed or natural) with a trademark.

Million Word March:   MillionWordWord — Default entry if no other word qualifies.

Music:  Wonderstar – as in Susan Boyle, an overnight sensation, exceeding all realsonable expectations.

Poland:  Bangsters – A description of those responsible for ‘predatory’ lending practices, from a combination of the words banker and gangster.

Politically incorrect:  1) Slumdog – a formerly disparaging comments upon those residing in the slums of India; 2) Seatmates of size – US airline euphemism for passengers who carry enough weight to require two seats.

Politics:  1) Carbon neutral — One of the many phrases relating to the effort to stem Climate Change.  2) Overseas Contingency Operations – The Obama re-branding of the Bush War on Terror.

Sports:  Phelpsian – The singular accomplishments of Michael Phelps at the Beijing Olympics.

Spirituality:  Renewalist – Movements that encompass renewal of the spirit; also call ‘Spirit-filled’ movements.

Technology:  1) Cloud Computing – The ‘cloud’ has been technical jargon for the Internet for many years.  It is now passing into more general usage. 2) N00b — From the Gamer Community; a neophyte in playing a particular game; used as a disparaging term.  3) Sexting – Sending email (or text messages) with sexual content.

YouthSpeak:  Quendy-Trendy — British youth speak for hip or up-to-date.

Extra Credit:

French word with least chance of entering English Language:  le courriel – E-Mail.

Most recognized English-language word on the planet:  O.K.

Each word is being analyzed to determine which is attaining the greatest depth (number of citations) and breadth (geographic extent of word usage), as well as number appearances in the global print and electronic media, the Internet, the blogosphere, and social media (such as Twitter and YouTube).  The Word with the highest PQI score will be deemed the 1,000,000th English language word.  The Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI) is used to track and analyze word usage.

Global Language Monitor has been tracking English word creation since 2003.  Once it identifies new words (or neologisms) it measures their extent and depth of usage with its PQI technology.

In Shakespeare’s day, there were only 2,000,000 speakers of English and fewer than 100,000 words.  Shakespeare himself coined about 1,700 words.  Thomas Jefferson invented about 200 words, and George W. Bush created a handful, the most prominent of which is, misunderestimate.  US President Barack Obama’s surname passed into wordhood last year with the rise of obamamania.

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, email info@ GlobalLanguageMonitor.com, visit www.LanguageMonitor.com, or call +1.925.367.7557.

A Million Words and Counting

If you are interested in learning more about the Million Word March, you can read about it in “A Million Words and Counting” by Paul JJ Payack.  This book from Kensington’s Citadel imprint takes you on a whirlwind tour of the English language and it dramatic impact on the various aspects of culture, including politics, the economy, entertainment, commerce and technology.  Now available as a quality paperback.

 

For more information, please call 512.815.8836 or email info@languagemonitor.com
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Seemingly chaotic events reflect normalcy of new reality

 

An Historical Inflection Point:

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The US Presidential Election and the Fianancial Tsunami

 

Austin, Texas, USA.   October 13, 2008. The worldwide financial tsunami that has captured the attention of the worldwide media (as well as governments, corporations and ordinary citizens), has come to dominate one of the great quadrennial media events of the post-Modern era.  No, we are not referring to the Olympics, most recently held in Beijing, or even football’s World Cup but, rather, the US Presidential elections.

The immediate effect of this unprecedented upheaval of global markets is the obfuscation of the clear lines of division offered by the opposing parties in the US Presidential Elections.

There is the sense that we are witnessing an unprecedented historical event; historical in the sense that we now appear to be standing astride (or atop) a cusp in history, a delta, a decision point, what is now called a point of inflection or inflection point.

Watching the nightly news and reading the traditional (for the last two centuries, that is) media, one has the distinct sense that what they perceive as unprecedented almost chaotic circumstances is actually that of the normalcy of the new reality, that of communications at the speed of light that the internet has foisted upon us. 

We keep hearing about this most unusual of election cycles, but this is only true when looking through the prism (and historical construct) of the traditional news gathering operations. What is called the 24-hour News Cycle is actually just the tip of the Tsunami washing over the planet at a steady speed and ever-quicker pace.  Indeed, the nature of the beast hasn’t change at all.  It is our outdated techniques, that haven’t kept up with the new reality:  News now emanates at the speed of thought, from tens of thousands or, even, millions of sources.

The nature of a Tsunami is little understood other than the tremendous damage it unleashes when it washes ashore.  What we do know, however, is that a tsunami travels in exceedingly long waves (tens of kilometers in length) racing through the oceanic depths at hundreds of kilometers per hour.  Only upon reaching the shore is its true destructive power unleashed for all to see (if they survive to witness it at all). 

In the same manner, the traditional media become transfixed with the roiling surface seas but fail to acknowledge the more sustained and significant, movements occurring just beneath the surface.

The surface swirls about in fascinating eddies, but the true transformation is occurring as the nearly undetectable waves rush through the open sea only occasionally, though dramatically, making their way onto shore. 

In the same manner, the traditional media focuses on the Twenty-four-hour News Cycle but seem to miss the strong and prevalent currents immediately beneath the surface.  They vainly attempt to tie global, transformative, and unprecedented events to relatively parochial events and forces (the Reagan Years, the Clinton administration, Bush 41 and 43, the de-regulation initiatives of Alan Greenspan of  ‘99) that are being all but over-shadowed (and –whelmed) by unyielding and all-but irresistible forces.

There is an almost palpable sense and correct sense that things are 1) changing forever, 2) out of our control (or even influence), and 3) will have a direct impact upon the planet for generations to follow.

What we can control, and make sense of, however, is a candidate’s wink, smirk or disdainful reference.  We can emphatically pin down our opponents into convenient sound bites, hopefully contradicting earlier sound bites.  Do you personally take responsibility for Climate Change?  (Does the fact that New York City was beneath 5,000 feet of Ice a few dozen centuries ago influence your vote today? A yes or no will suffice!)  Is your personal philosophy, whatever it might be, grounded in a belief system that I can systematically debunk and demean.  (Yes or no.)  Are you for or against atom smashers creating miniscule black holes that may or may not swallow up the Earth?   (Answer yes and you are a barbarian; answer no and you have absolutely no respects of the future prospects of the human race.)  Did you ever consider yourself a loser (at any point in your life)?  Did you ever make the acquaintance of fellow losers? 

Nevertheless, the US Presidential Election will proceed to its own conclusion on the first Tuesday of November in the year two thousand and eight.

For the preceding five years, The Global Language Monitor has attempted to clarify the course (and future course) of human events as documented in the English language.

The tools at our disposal have sometimes allowed us to peer into events and trends that become, otherwise, obscured, by the ‘noise’ of the Twenty-four Hour News Cycle.

Our goal was, and continues to be, to extricate (and explicate upon) the true currents underpinning the events we call news, and to better understand what they mean and how they are perceived with the new media reality in mind.

For example, back in the days preceding the 2004 Presidential election cycle, GLM discovered the fact that once ideas, words and phrases were launched into the vast, uncharted, oceanic Internet, they do not, indeed, die out after twenty-four hours but, rather, travel in deep, powerful currents and waves (not unlike those of a tsunami) that only grow stronger as they make their ways to distant shores.

In this new reality, tsunami-like ideas pass through vast seas of information of the Internet, nearly undetected and often unmeasured, until they crash upon our shorelines, where their full power (and possibly fury) is unleashed.

The fact that we only entertain them for 24 hours before they are dispatched into the archives of what is considered ‘past’ or ‘passed’ and readily discarded, is beyond the point.

We often hear that ‘we’ve never seen anything like this’ before.  Of course not.  Think back a few hundred years to other information revolutions, such as that introduced along with mechanical type.  What do you think the fortunate few thought when they first laid their eyes upon the works of Aristotle, the Bible, or the Arabic translations of Euclid?  No one had ever seen anything like that before!  Indeed.

And astonishment will only become more so as the future unfolds.

 

– Paul JJ Payack, President & Chief Word Analyst, The Global Language Monitor

For mor information, call +1.512.815.8836 or email info@languagemonitor.com.



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Spread the word: English is unstoppable by Neil Reynolds


Spread the word: English is unstoppable

By NEIL REYNOLDS, The Globe and Mail

OTTAWA — California-based [Word Analyst] Paul Payack expects the English language to gain its one-millionth word this autumn. The language has come a long way indeed, as the English would say, in 400 years. In 1582, the English grammarian Richard Mulcaster could say that the language was “of small reach, stretching no further than this island of ours, nay not there over all.” In 1582, though, William Shakespeare married Ann Hathaway — and the language itself has since flourished as magnificently as the playwright himself. More than one billion people now speak it. Another billion people are learning it. Not bad, indeed.

The British Council, an independent charitable organization, says the English language now has special status of one kind or another in 75 countries. That one-third of the world’s books are published in English. That two-thirds of all scientists read English. That three-quarters of the world’s mail is written in English. That four-fifths of all electronic communications are in English. That people who spend time in Britain simply to learn English spend $2-billion a year doing it.

Language is a fascinating thing, the most complex of human achievements, spontaneously evolved, one unique word or expression at a time, without government control — for that matter, without government interest (aside from official language status). It is true that more than 40 countries have established academic police forces to protect their languages. But these are, for the most part, reactionary institutions that seek to reverse the past rather than invent the future. Cardinal Richelieu was the first of the language cops, founding the illustrious L’Académie française in 1634 with a mandate “to give rules to our language, and to render it pure and elegant.” Time travel would have been a simpler assignment. Once the great language of diplomacy, the French language has been going through rough times. Indeed, France deemed it necessary a few years ago to amend its constitution, specifying French as the official language of the republic. By its nature, language is decentralized, independent and anarchic. Only in exceptional circumstances, is it pure and elegant. It is almost always out of control.

In the 18th century, the English language almost became the American language, escaping by the very skin of its teeth — itself one of those inspired English-only phrases devised by the translators of the King James version of the Bible. (In contrast, the Douay Bible expresses Job’s lament for his wasted body with the literal assertion that “nothing but lips are left about my teeth.”) In the century between the Revolutionary and Civil wars, American references to “the American language” abounded. In 1780, American envoy John Adams could write from France to lobby Congress for an American language academy, directed by learned Americans and empowered to “correct and improve” the young country’s rude misuse of the language. “English is destined to be more generally the language of the world,” he wrote, “than Latin in a previous age and French in the present age.”

North America gave English room to roam. In Mr. Mulcaster’s 1582, English was spoken by perhaps four million people. In Mr. Adams’s 1780, by perhaps 12 million. In Noah Webster’s 1828, on publication of The American Dictionary of the English Language, by perhaps 50 million. A century later, in H.L. Mencken’s rambunctious 1920s, on his publication of The American Language, by perhaps 200 million. With two billion now speaking it or learning to speak it, we can credibly imagine a genuine global language.

Some linguists say that three or four dominant “language brands” will emerge — Chinese and Spanish are most frequently suggested as rival global languages. (In any case, Canada will be competitive. Of the 100 languages used in Canada, Chinese is already No. 3, spoken by one million people.) Language has always been closely connected to patriotism, and almost always to a particular country. The English have always regarded “the American language” as essentially barbaric. Inevitably, in the 19th century, Americans came to regard their distinctive English as a unique language. In 1838, Indiana instructed its state university “to instruct the youth of the Commonwealth in the American language.” In 1854, secretary of state William Marcy ordered U.S. diplomatic missions to use only “the American language.”

Fifteen years ago, Robert MacNeil, the Canadian who for many years co-anchored The MacNeil/Lehrer Report on PBS, wrote his evocative memoir Wordstruck as a love story with the English language. In the end, looking retrospectively from his mother’s home in Halifax to the Atlantic, he says simply: “This is where I was first struck by words. This is where they made me more than a Canadian, an Englishman, or an American; or Scottish, or Irish, or German — all things my forebears were. This is where I became what [dissident Russian poet] Joseph Brodsky calls ‘a citizen of the great English language.’ ” It is this sense of the language that most fully expresses its dynamic.

English is to language as capitalism is to economics. It is the language
of laissez-faire, of enterprise — and, beyond all argument, of hope.



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Words of the H1N1Epidemic

Words of the Pandemic (Upated May 2, 2009)

This explainer will be expanded continuously as information on the Type A H1N1 Flu Pandemic becomes avaiable.

 

Media Alert:  If you need a customized version of this explainer, please call +1.512.815.8836

 

These are the technical definitions of the phases and the Planned US Federal Government response.

 

Term                                            Definition

20th Century Pandemics

1917 Pandemic — La Gripe Espanola or the “Spanish Flu”.   50 million or more died in the 1918 pandemic, up to 200,000 in the US.  Some 30% of the world’s population of 1.5 billion were infected.

1957 Pandemic — The “Asian Flu”  originated in China.  It had two major waves killing some 2 million people.

1968 Pandemic — The “Hong Kong Flu” spread globally for two years resulting in about  1 million deaths.

1976 faux Pandemic — First identified at Ft. Dix, NJ in a new recruit, the pandemic never unfolded.  The massive US immunization program resulted in about 500 cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological condition that can be fatal.  About fifty deaths were reported. 

CDC — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Located in Atlanta, Georgia, the CDC is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Close Contact – One meter (about three feet) is often cited by infection control professionals to define close contact (based on studies of respiratory infections); for practical purposes, this distance may range up to 2 meters (six feet).  The World Health Organization says approximately one meter; the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidlelines state within 6 feet”. 

Epidemic — A disease occurring suddenly in humans in a community, region or country in numbers clearly in excess of normal. 

Facemask — A disposable mask cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as a medical device.   Facemasks have several designs.  Held in place two ties, conforms to the face with the aid of a flexible adjustment for the nose bridge, and may be flat/pleated or duck-billed in shape; pre-molded, attached a single elastic band, and has a flexible adjustment for the nose bridge; and flat/pleated and attached  with ear loops. Facemasks cleared by the FDA for use as medical devices have been determined to have specific levels of protection from penetration of blood and body fluids.

Ground Zero — The location where the first case occurred.  The earliest confirmed case of the influenz A H1N1 has been traced to the village of La Gloria in Veracruz, Mexico located south east of Mexico City.

H1N1 — See Influenza A H1N1.

Influenza — A serious disease caused by viruses that infects the upper respiratory tract.

 (Electron Microscope image of Influenza A H1N1 virus.)

Influenza A (H1N1) — The official name of what is commonly but inaccurately called ‘swine flu”.  The strain consists of four elements, one human, one avian, and two swine.  The World Health Organization began using this nomenclature on April 30, 2009.

Influenza Pandemic — A global outbreak of a new influenza ‘A’ virus that is easily transmitted from person-to-person worldwide.

Mutating Virus — In general, any flu virus mutates and evolves mechanisms that enable it to escape the immune defence systems of its victims.

Pandemic — The global outbreak of a disease in humans in numbers clearly in excess of normal. 

Pandemic Phases — WHO has divided pandemics into six phases.  (See Figure above.)

Pandemic Phase 1 — Low risk of human cases.  No viruses circulating among animals have been reported to cause infections in humans.

Pandemic Phase 2 — Higher risk of human cases.  An animal influenza virus circulating among domesticated or wild animals is known to have caused infection in humans, and is therefore considered a potential pandemic threat.

Pandemic Phase 3 — No or very limited human-to-human transmission.  An animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus has caused sporadic cases or small clusters of disease in people, but has not resulted in human-to-human transmission sufficient to sustain community-level outbreaks. Limited human-to-human transmission may occur under some circumstances, for example, when there is close contact between an infected person and an unprotected caregiver. However, limited transmission under such restricted circumstances does not indicate that the virus has gained the level of transmissibility among humans necessary to cause a pandemic.

Pandemic Phase 4 — Evidence of increased human-to-human transmission.  Human-to-human transmission of an animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus able to cause “community-level outbreaks.” The ability to cause sustained disease outbreaks in a community marks a significant upwards shift in the risk for a pandemic. Any country that suspects or has verified such an event should urgently consult with WHO so that the situation can be jointly assessed and a decision made by the affected country if implementation of a rapid pandemic containment operation is warranted. Phase 4 indicates a significant increase in risk of a pandemic.

Pandemic Phase 5 — Evidence of significant human-to-human transmission.  Human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region (Figure 4). While most countries will not be affected at this stage, the declaration of Phase 5 is a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short.

Pandemic Phase 6   Efficient and sustained human-to-human transmission. The pandemic phase  is characterized by community level outbreaks in at least one other country in a different WHO region in addition to the criteria defined in Phase 5. Designation of this phase will indicate that a global pandemic is under way.  [Editor’s Note:  According to these stated criteria, the pandemic phase has already reached pandemic phase 6 on April 30, 2009.]

Respirator — Refers to an N95 or higher filtering facepiece respirator certified by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 

rRT-PCR Swine Flu Panel diagnostic  test – A tool used to diagnose swine flu cases locally, thus speeding up the confirmation process.

Spanish Flu     Another name for the 1918 flu pandemic or La Gripe Espanola.

Swine Flu      Commonly used shorthand name for influenza A (H1N1) Symptoms — Body aches, fever, headaches, sore throat, body pain, chills and fatigue, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting.        

Tamiflu and Relenza    In response to the request from CDC, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration , in has issued Emergency Use Authorizations  for the use of Relenza and Tamiflu antiviral products.   Tamiflu has been stockpiled by Homeland Security in the US.  For optimum efficacy, infected individuals should take it as early as possible.  It lessens the symptoms but is not a cure for Swine Flu.

WHO — Located in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Health Organization, is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system.

   



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