Top Politically Correct Buzzwords of 2012

His and Her, Peanut Butter Sandwich, Columbus, Normal and Pet Owner Top List

The Seventh Global Survey

Words and Phrases from the US, UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, India, Sweden and Australia

Austin, Texas, December 7-9 – ‘His and Her’, Peanut Butter Sandwich, Columbus, Normal and Pet Owner have been named the top politically correct words and phrases of the past year according to The Global Language Monitor in its seventh survey of the global media. Rounding out the top ten were Skin Lightening, Black Peter, Holding Down the Fort, Rule of Thumb, and White Males of European Descent.  The survey found words and phrases originating from the US, UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, India, Sweden and Australia.

“This year’s survey once again illustrates the difficulty in engaging in public dialogue without offending those on the right, left, center, or various combinations thereof,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of The Global Language Monitor. “We are seeing that continued attempts to remove all bias from language is itself creating an entirely new set of biases. 

To see the Top Words of 2012, go here.

The Top Politically Correct Words and Phrases for 2012 include:

  1. ‘His and Her’  (Sweden) – The Swedes once again promoting gender-neutrality, this time its with personal pronouns:  him [han in Swedish], her [hon] and he/she [hen].
  2. Peanut Butter Sandwich — Deemed by a Portland grade-school principal to be culturally insensitive to children of other cultures.
  3. Columbus –  Explorer’s Day, please.  Offensive to those who believe Columbus was the beginning of a 16th c. ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ of American Indians, Native Americans, or First Peoples.
  4. Normal (Australia) — According to new guidelines, normal persons in the presence of people with disabilities should not be referred to as ‘normal’ but rather  non-disabled persons.
  5. Pet Owner — It is becoming less acceptable to ‘own’ animals, pet owners have been transformed into ‘pet guardians’.
  6. Skin Lightening (India)– A new phenomenon where Indian women lighten their skin to achieve a ‘fair total-body complexion’.
  7. Black Peter (Zwarte Piet) (Netherlands and Belgium) — The companion of Sinterklaas (Santa Clause), most frequently portrayed by whites in blackface.  First introduced in the mid-nineteenth century, Black Peter is now considered by many, a racist stereotype.
  8. Holding Down the Fort — Possibly offensive to Native Americans, since we all know who the forts was being held down against.
  9. Rule of Thumb  (UK) — Originates from the old English dictum that a husband could not beat his wife or children with any stick wider than his thumb.
  10. White Males of European Descent –From press accounts, you would think this population segment should soon be placed on the EPA’s endangered species list.
  11. Handicap (UK) — Aside from the ‘disabled’ reference, ‘handicap can be offensive to beggars, with ‘cap in hand’.
  12. Christmas — Considered by many under siege until supporters realized that the  ‘holidays’ in ‘happy holidays’ originated from ‘holy days’ and the ‘X’ in Xmas is the Greek letter ‘chi,’ representing the first two letters of Christ.
  13. Prayer — In public the favored word substitute for ‘prayer’  is now ‘thoughts,’ as in ‘keep hen in your thoughts and wishes’.
  14. Global English – The dominance of the English language worldwide is opposed by those who think it the result of  linguistic imperialism or Western Hegemony.  Either way, not good.
  15. Politically Correct – The term politically correct is still politically incorrect (or is it incorrect?).
  16. Phobes — The Loyal Opposition? How 19th century, of you; opponents are now cast as afraid and fearful, a ‘-phobe’.
  17. Speech Codes — Limiting free-speech by declaring what is considered offensive off-limits. A hot topic on campus.
  18. Settled Science — In 1925 it was settled science that rockets would not fly in Outer Space.  Beware of Settled Science.
  19. Dutch Treat — Possibly offensive to the Dutch, since it portrays them as either (take your choice) thrifty (good) or stingy (bad).
  20. Global Warming/Climate Change — As the temperature continues to rise, the debate continues as to its primary cause.  Either phrase is a potential minefield.

The Top Politically Incorrect Terms and Phrases in previous surveys include:

  • 2009:  Swine Flu – Various governments and agencies for political motives ranging from protecting pork producers to religious sensitivity insist on calling it by its formal name: influenza A(H1N1).
  • 2008:  “He Can’t Win” – Hillary Clinton’s coded reference to Barack Obama’s ethnic background as an insurmountable impediment to him winning the US Presidency.
  • 2007:  Nappy-headed Ho — Radio personality Don Imus’ reference to the women on the Rutgers University championship basketball team.
  • 2006:  Global Warming Denier – Scientists not denying climate change, but the role of humans in the millennia-old process.
  • 2005:  Misguided Criminals – A BBC commentator attempts to strip away all emotion from the word ‘terrorist’ by using ‘neutral’ descriptions for those who carried out the 7/7 tube bombings.
  • 2004:  Master/Slave computer jargon – LA County re-labels computer documentation to remove this alleged slur that has been used for decades describing computer hierarchies.
For a complete list of Politically Correct language and controversies since 2003, click here.

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. Since 2003, GLM has launched a number of innovative products and services monitoring the Internet, the blogosphere, social media as well as the top print and electronic media sites.

For more information, call 1.512.815.8836, email editor@GlobalLanguageMonitor.com, or visit www.LanguageMonitor.com.

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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.]


Palinpalooza: GLM analysis for Huffington Post

Sarah Palin’s Emails Written At 8th Grade Level — Better Than Some CEOs

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The huge cache of Sarah Palin’s emails released Friday offered not only a chance to see what she was writing about during her uncompleted term as Alaska’s governor, but also an opportunity to see how well she writes.

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 eighth-grade level, an excellent score for a chief executive, they said.

“I’m a centrist Democrat, and would have loved to support my hunch that Ms. Palin is illiterate,” said2tor Chief Executive Officer John Katzman.

“However, the emails say something else. Ms. Palin writes emails on her Blackberry at a grade level of 8.5.

“If she were a student and showing me her work, I’d say ‘It’s fine, clear writing,’” he said, admitting that emails he wrote scored lower than Palin’s on the widely used Flesch-Kincaid readability test.

“She came in as a solid communicator,” said Paul J.J. Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor. The emails registered as an 8.2 on his version of the test. “That’s typical for a corporate executive.”

An example of Palin’s strongest writing came on Jul. 17, 2007 in an email to Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell about the controversial Gravina Island Bridge, infamously called the “Bridge to Nowhere.”

“We cant afford it, the Feds won’t pay for it, the general populace isn’t placing it as a high priority … can you diplomatically express that?! Of course we want infrastructure — and this is NOT a “bridge to nowhere” (that is so offensive), but as it stands today with the highest-cost bridge design selected by the Ketchikan community, we need to find a lower-cost alternative [if] a bridge will be built.”

“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.” [Read More.]



Make No Mistake: Obama’s Favorite Buzzwords

You Don’t Say

This article has been shared from The Daily iPad app

 

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‘Make no mistake,’ Obama is a big fan of his own catchphrases

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BY ANTHONY DECEGLIE AND JENNY MERKINMONDAY, MARCH 28, 2011

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Statistics gathered by the Global Language Monitor reveal that Obama has said it 2,924 times since he was sworn into office more than two years ago.

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Other signature Obama sayings include “Here’s the deal” (1,450 times) and “Let me be clear,” (1,066 times). In a nod to the tough financial times he has faced, the president’s fifth most popular motto is “It will not be easy.”

Obama’s reheated rhetoric has recently come under fresh scrutiny. Parts of his speech warning Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi to honor the United Nations’ cease-fire pact were strikingly similar to the words spoken by President George W. Bush when he launched military strikes in Afghanistan.

“Our goal is focused. Our cause is just. And our coalition is strong,” Obama said. Bush, nearly a decade earlier: “Your mission is defined. Your objectives are clear. Your goal is just.”

Make no mistake, The Daily is hoping Obama lifts his creative game and “wins the future” (another rhetorical crutch) when it comes to this public speaking deal. Although we understand it will not be easy.

Scale of Top Sayings (Source: The Global Language Monitor, as of March 25)

#1 “Make no mistake” — 2,924 times

#2 “Win the future” — 1,861 times; 9 times in his 2011 State of the Union address

#3 “Here’s the deal” — 1,450 times

$4 “Let me be clear” — 1,066 times

#5 “It will not be easy” — 1,059 times

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Top Politically Incorrect Words of 2009

Swine Flu, Flush Toilet, Green Revolution, Minority, and Saint named top politically (in)Correct  words and phrases of 2009

The Sixth Annual Global Survey

Austin, Texas October 2, 2009 – Swine Flu, Flush Toilet, Green Revolution, Minority, and Saint have been named the top politically (in)Correct  words and phrases of the past year according to The Global Language Monitor in its sixth annual survey of the English Language. Rounding out the top ten were the term Politically Correct, Oriental, Founding Fathers, Black Sheep, and Senior Citizen.

“Once again, we are seeing that the attempt to remove all bias from language is itself creating biases of their own,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of The Global Language Monitor. “At this point it is becoming increasingly difficult to engage in any form of public dialogue without offending someone’s sensitivities, whether right, left or center.” .

The Top Politically Correct Words and Phrases for 2009 include:

1. Swine Flu – Though hundreds of millions know of the current pandemic as Swine Flu, various governments and agencies for political motives ranging from protecting pork producers to religious sensitivity have chosen to address the virus by its formal name, influenza A(H1N1).

2. Flush Toilet – Flush toilets, toilet paper and toilet use in general are now coming under the watchful eyes of the green movement.

3. Green Revolution – In the 1960s the scientific consensus was the world was on the brink of a ‘Malthusian’ collapse. The Green Revolution changed all that, but now there are those who believe that the world has paid a “stiff price in environmental degradation”.

4. Minority – Talking about minorities is considered insensitive to minorities since this can make them feel, well, like minorities.

5. Saint – In addition to the word ‘saint,’ Oxford University Press has removed words such as ‘bishop,’ ‘chapel,’ and ‘Pentecost’ from the Junior Dictionary.

6. Politically Correct – The term politically correct has, itself, is now politically correct, Be careful how you use it.

7. Oriental – In the US considered offensive to Asians because the term is based on the geographic relationship of Asia from a Western perspective. In Europe (and in most Asian nations), however, Oriental is acceptable.

8. Founding Fathers – Though all the Signers of the American Declaration of Independence were men, this is considered sexists in some quarters. Founders, please.

9. Black Sheep – Though originally referring to the rare birth of a lamb with black fur, now considered ethnically insensitive; the same is true for Black Day, Conversely, terms like White Collar and Whiter than White all can be used to encourage a hierarchical value of skin tone.

10. Senior Citizen – In the name of ‘inclusiveness,’ the UK’s Loughborough University’s suggests replacing senior citizen with ‘older person’.

The Top Politically Incorrect Terms and Phrases for previous years include:

  • 2008: “He Can’t Win” – Hillary Clinton’s coded reference to Barack Obama’s ethnic background as an insurmountable impediment to him winning the US Presidency
  • 2007: Nappy-headed Ho — Radio personality Don Imus’ reference to the women on the Rutgers University championship basketball team.
  • 2006: Global Warming Denier – Scientists not denying climate change, but the role of humans in the millennia-old process.
  • 2005: Misguided Criminals – A BBC commentator attempts to strip away all emotion from the word ‘terrorist’ by using ‘neutral’ descriptions for those who carried out the 7/7 tube bombings.
  • 2004: Master/Slave computer jargon – LA County re-labels computer documentation to remove this alleged slur that has been used for decades describing computer hierarchies.

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.

 

ObamaVision Tops Financial Meltdown as Top TV Word of 2009

The Death of Michael Jackson, the emergence of Susan Boyle and the rise of Hulu.com follow.

The Sixth Annual Analysis by the Global Language Monitor

Austin, Texas, USA. September 24, 2009. The Global Language Monitor today announced that ObamaVision topped the global Financial Meltdown as the most profound influences on the English Language from Television in 2009. These were followed by the death of Michael Jackson, the emergence of Susan Boyle and the rise of Hulu.com. Rounding out the Top Ten were Vampires, Dar Dour, the Wizards of Waverly Place, the phrase, ‘And that’s the way it is,’ and Jiggle. This was the Sixth Annual Analysis by the Global Language Monitor.

“The three screens in the post-Modern home became even more apparent during this television season, with viewers moving seamlessly among their flat screen TV, their laptop, and their 3G phone,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM. “This year was dominated by the advent of ObamaVision, to the newest reality show: the Global Financial Meltdown. And then Michael Jackson’s death commandeers the worldwide airways for weeks on end.”

The Top Telewords of the 2009 season with commentary follow:

  1. ObamaVision — From the primaries to the election to the Inauguration to the middle school classroom: all Obama, all the time, everywhere.
  2. Financial Meltdown – The most authentic of all reality shows. National economies on the brink! The Bailout! The Bonuses! What surprises can we expect from Season II?
  3. Michael Jackson – The biggest TV funeral in history. What’s the King of Pop’s next act?
  4. Susan Boyle – Britain’s surprise spinster singing sensation demonstrated the power of the ‘third screen’.
  5. Hulu.com – For the first time, GLM is recognizing a website (the much hailed second screen) for broadcasting made-for-television shows over the internet.
  6. Vampires – All over the tube: ever chaste (with human girls); ever so exotic and popular.
  7. Dar Dour — The Iraqi TV show that spoofs the futility (and humor) found in the pitfalls (and pratfalls) in the attempt to lead an ordinary life.
  8. Wizards (from the Wizards of Waverly Place) – Wizards that need a bit of science to maintain their powers.
  9. “And that’s the way it is” – Walter Cronkite’s shadow over television news spans the decades.
  10. Jiggle – Before HBO, ABC introduced ‘jiggle’ with Farah Fawcett as one of the main contributors to the concept.

The Top Telewords of previous years were:

2008: Beijing (from the Olympics), ObamaSpeak, followed by ‘facts are stubborn things’, ‘it is what it is,’ and Phelpsian.

2007: “Surge” from the Iraq War political and military strategy, “That’s Hot®” Paris Hilton’s popular expression that is now a registered trademark, and “D’oh!” from The Simpsons and The Simpsons Movie.

2006: ‘Truthiness’ and ‘Wikiality’ from the Colbert Show followed by ‘Katrina’, ‘Katie,’ and ‘Dr. McDreamy’.

2005: ‘Refugee’ from the coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, followed by ‘Desperation’ from Desperate Housewives and ‘Camp Cupcake’ from the on-going Martha Stewart follies.

2004: “You’re Fired!” edged “Mess O’ Potamia” followed by “Girlie Men,” “God,” and “Wardrobe Malfunction”.


Word Christmas Stronger than Ever in Global Media

Contrary to assumption that “Holiday season” pushing Christmas aside

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Austin, TX December 23, 2008 (Update) – The Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com) has found that contrary to the assumption that the word Christmas is being pushed aside by more secular or politically neutral terms, ‘Christmas’ is used over 600% more than ‘Holiday Season’ in the global media.  GLM compared the use of Christmas along with that of ‘Holiday Season,’ ‘Xmas,’ Hanukah’ in a variety of spellings, and ‘Kwanzaa’.  [Read More.]

Since the 2005 season, Christmas has been used in about 85% of all global print and electronic media citations [2008, 84.6%; 2007, 85.5%; 2006, 84.1%; 2005, 84.1%].

In the global media, Christmas accounted for about 84.6% of all citations with Holiday Season following at 12.6%, followed by Xmas (1.5%), Hanukah (0.9%) and Kwanzaa (0.3%).

On the Internet, Christmas led with 80.8% followed by Xmas (10.6%), Holiday Season (5.1%), Hanukah (2.5%), and Kwanzaa (0.7%).

Notes:  The X in the word Xmas actually represents the Greek letter CHI, the first two Letters in the name Christ.

Festivus, the fictional holiday created during the hit Seinfeld television series, and Wintervale, sometimes used as a politically neutral substitute for the Christmas season were also measured with negligible results.

GLM tracked the words and phrases in the print and electronic media, on the Internet and throughout the blogosphere.  The analysis also measured the global print and electronic media on its own. The results follow:

 

obal Media Percentage Internet Percentage
Christmas 84.6% Christmas 80.8%
Xmas 1.5% Xmas 10.6%
Holiday Season 12.6% Holiday Season 5.1%
Hannukah 0.9% Hannukah 2.5%
Kwanzaa 0.3% Kwanzaa 0.7%
Festivus 0.03% Festivus 0.1%
Wintervale 0.00% Wintervale 0.001%
Total 100.0% Total 100.0%

“We thought it would prove interesting to see how the holidays are actually represented in the global media,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of GLM.  “We were a bit surprised to see that the much discussed secularization of Christmas in the media was nowhere as widespread as speculated.”

Word ‘Christmas’ Stronger than ever in Global Media

Contrary to assumption that “Holiday season” pushing Christmas aside

Austin, TX December 23, 2008 (Update) – The Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com) has found that contrary to the assumption that the word Christmas is being pushed aside by more secular or politically neutral terms, ‘Christmas’ is used over 600% more than ‘Holiday Season’ in the global media. GLM compared the use of Christmas along with that of ‘Holiday Season,’ ‘Xmas,’ Chanukah’ in a variety of spellings, and ‘Kwanzaa’ (see below for the various spellings of Chanukah).

Since the 2005 season, Christmas has been used in about 85% of all global print and electronic media citations [2008, 84.6%; 2007, 85.5%; 2006, 84.1%; 2005, 84.1%].

In the global media, Christmas accounted for about 84.6% of all citations with Holiday Season following at 12.6%, followed by Xmas (1.5%), Hanukah (0.9%) and Kwanzaa (0.3%). On the Internet, Christmas led with 80.8% followed by Xmas (10.6%), Holiday Season (5.1%), Hanukah (2.5%), and Kwanzaa (0.7%). Note: The X in the word Xmas actually represents the Greek letter CHI, the first two Letters in the name Christ.

Festivus, the fictional holiday created during the hit Seinfeld television series, and Wintervale, sometimes used as a politically neutral substitute for the Christmas season were also measured with negligible results.

GLM tracked the words and phrases in the print and electronic media, on the Internet and throughout the blogosphere. The analysis also measured the global print and electronic media on its own. The results follow

Global Media Percentage Internet Percentage
Christmas 84.6% Christmas 80.8%
Xmas 1.5% Xmas 10.6%
Holiday Season 12.6% Holiday Season 5.1%
Hannukah 0.9% Hannukah 2.5%
Kwanzaa 0.3% Kwanzaa 0.7%
Festivus 0.03% Festivus 0.1%
Wintervale 0.00% Wintervale 0.001%
Total 100.0% Total 100.0%

“We thought it would prove interesting to see how the holidays are actually represented in the global media,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of GLM. “We were a bit surprised to see that the much discussed secularization of Christmas in the media was nowhere as widespread as speculated.”

Various Spellings of Chanukah

  • Chanuka
  • Chanukah (Most common in US)
  • Chanukkah
  • Channukah
  • Hanukah
  • Hannukah
  • Hanukkah
  • Hanuka
  • Hanukka
  • Hanaka
  • Haneka
  • Hanika
  • Khanukkah
Added 12/23/09 (thanks to Steven Teitel)

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


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