Reprinted from The Hill, May 31, 2009
We have been analyzing the narrative of Barack Obama for some years now. In fact, we’ve tracked three differing narratives in the course of his campaign and the first term of his presidency. We’ve tracked the president’s highs (the “Yes we can!” Grant Park Speech, and others of soaring rhetoric), and his lows (the much more pedestrian Gulf Oil Spill effort).
We’ve been praised for our astute analysis, and condemned for announcing his premature political death. At the time, the Global Language Monitor’s analysis of the BP Oil Spill speech was actually pulled off CNN and replaced by a far milder critique. In retrospect, that speech was a harbinger of what was to come — Barack Obama bereft of Hope and Change.
Not that we didn’t have hints about of what was about to transpire. Consider the disposition of these “hope-and-change type” promises: (1) the immediate shutdown of Guantanamo, (2) the end of the K Street revolving door and (3) holding the bankers accountable for their part in the financial meltdown. How exactly do you make sense of these countervailing (or even contradictory) positions?
Obama and the null set narrative.
Now consider the president’s recent speech on U.S. defense policy: after ramping up the use of drones against “enemy combatants,” with hundreds of civilians deaths by the administration’s own estimate, he stands firmly against gratuitous drone strikes. After keeping Gitmo open for going on five years now, he will now do everything in his power to close it. How to make sense of these seemingly oppositional positions?
The null set narrative.
In the run-up to the 2010 midterms, we began to formally track the president’s narrative. We were curious to better understand how the word ‘narrative’ rose to be the No. 1 political buzzword at that time and what it meant to this presidency. Other terms frequently used to describe Obama at the time, included: detached, aloof, hands-off or professorial. Some took these words to be demeaning and/or insulting.
Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune wrote, “The danger comes when politicians and their operatives essentially use ‘narrative’ … the version of the truth that they want us to believe even when they don’t believe it.”
Since his reelection last November, we have remained silent on the subject — awaiting the second term narrative to emerge. With the recent series of crises, scandals and/or events, we now are, indeed, witnessing this new narrative: the null set narrative.
Consider, if you will, the current plight of one Jay Carney.
It is always interesting how one’s attributes can be used to praise or condemn depending on the narrative in which they are described.
However, this is a narrative that can fit around any news, story or scandal; more to the point, it is completely irrelevant to the words ensconced within it. Any words, anytime, anywhere. This is the narrative of choice for the administration at this point in time.
And now detached, aloof, and hands-off are the favored phrases in this administration’s null set narrative.
La couverture de l’élection de Barack Obama a été sans commune mesure avec les élections présidentielles de 2000 et 2004. Jacques Portes explique pourquoi le président des Etats-Unis n’a pas réussi à transformer ce succès planétaire en atout au cours de son mandat. Extraits de “Obama, vers un deuxième mandat ?” (1/2).
Austin, Texas. October 23 — The President chose to go on the attack in the Third Presidential Debate last night; in a sort of reverse ‘rope-a-Hope’ strategy the challenger attempted to defuse the pummeling by not quite praising the President’s efforts but, rather, agreeing with him whenever it was even remotely possible. This was the Obama of 2008, though the pounding spoke less of hope and change & more of a desperate attempt to please his base.
For all the chest-pounding on the President’s side of the aisle, er, Spin Room, the fact remained that Obama was back in familiar territory of long sentences, a relatively high usage of the passive voice, with a lower reading ease, and attendant higher grade level scores. Once again, the higher use of the passive voice often is interpreted as attempting to evade ownership or shift responsibility. Obama’s use of passive was more than double his use in the Second Debate. Typically, a bellicose style does not win over the undecided, who seek to be more reassured than shouted at.
Romney’s numbers were remarkably similar during all three debates, which apparently reflects his steady, controlled, ‘gee willikers’-type personality, with a direct, if quaint, speaking style. This is a style of moderate-length, declarative sentences, with little use of the passive voice, and short, direct, and easy to understand words.
Both candidates were attempting to sound (and look) presidential and it was apparent that the second task was quite wearying. Holding back on Biden-esque smirks and Al Gore-ish disdain, feigning interest while keeping their talking points in mind, looked to take a singular toll.
Now the question remains if the Third Debate, along with a narrow win in the Second, is enough to unwind the havoc wrought by Debate No. 1, which introduced Mitt 2.0 (or even 3.0) upon an unsuspecting American electorate. Indeed, who knew that Mr. Romney could even affect let alone reverse his apparent off-course trajectory in a 90-minute span? Seldom has the course of a major American campaign change in a shorter amount of time. And seldom has a foregone conclusion, Obama winning an electoral landslide, collapsed as suddenly.
Austin, TEXAS. October 17, 2012. The President Obama of yore (2008, that is) showed up at the debate last night and so was hailed the victor. In fact, the numbers show that it was not that Romney faltered. He did not. Rather it was the President who recovered from his first debate ‘debacle’ (as viewed by his strongest supporters).
The numbers reveal the story. First, keep this number in mind: 7.4. This is the grade level of Obama’s most widely hailed speech, the “Yes, We Can!” Grant Park victory speech. ’Yes, We Can!” is widely perceived as a classic to be enshrined in the American Oratory Hall of Fame along side Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream,” Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address,’ and Ronald Reagan’s “City on a Hill” speeches.
In the first Presidential debate, Obama’s grade level came in at 9.2. For a debate, with all its give-and-take, interruptions, pauses and the like, that was a rather high number. A Town Hall meeting is definitely not the place for the grandiloquent turn of phrase, especially when you are trying to woo the undecided citizens of the land with plain speakin’ — no matter how uncomfortable that might be.
We all told in sixth grade that a newspaper should be written at the sixth-grade level, which from the sixth-grade perspective can be quite a challenge. What this really translates to is short sentences, concise paragraphs, fewer polysyllabic words, and all written in active voice.
As an example, Joe Biden spoke at a sixth grade level (6.1) in the vice presidential debate and there were few who claimed the inability to understand Ol’ Joe. (Unfortunately, these tests do not evaluate facial expressions.) In last night’s debate , Obama scored 7.2 in the grade-level score, about 28% lower (and in this case better) than his first debate — and nearly identical to his Grant Park discourse.
Both Romney and Obama cut their used of passive voice nearly in half from 6% to 4% and 3%, respectively. Active voice, where the subject is the doer of the action, is always preferred over passive voice in political discourse since it can be used to avoid responsibility. (‘Taxes were raised’ rather than ‘I raise raised the taxes.)
Finally, Obama’s reading ease score improved over 8% from 63.1 to 70.1; Romney’s remained a bit higher at 71.0.
In champion fights, the unwritten rule is that you never take the current champ’s crown away on — points unless the victory is overwhelming. Last night the President showed up to fight, and thus is awarded the victory on points. So the Presidential Debate series now stands even at 0ne all, with the rubber (and deciding) match to take place next week.
October 16, Austin, Texas — (Opinion) We have seen this all before in politics, in the board room, on the ball fields, and in life. The person at the top of the pecking order makes a misstep, seemingly minor, and then cascades into something major, and then cascades further still until it become calamitous — unless it can be stopped in time. Time is of the essence here. It must be squelched immediately, or sooner. And hopefully sooner still.
Perhaps it is ironic that one of the best examples was that of Mitt Romney’s Dad, George, in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination back in the late ’60s. George Romney claimed that he had been ‘brainwashed’ by the U.S. military and diplomatic personnel on a visit to Vietnnam. “Romney brainwashed’ screamed the headlines. And that was all it took for his campaign to unravel.
Even a youthful observer could understand that Romney was using what in literature is known as synecdoche, where a part is used to represent something far larger. I have since seen this repeated scores of times in political confrontations of all types most recently in the Arab Spring. Today, we label this kind of support ‘shallow’ where a significant number of supporters are ready to abandon their candidate at the first instance that a viable alternative arises.
Could this explain what we saw in the aftermath of the first debate? It seems unlikely, but nevertheless could explain the remarkable transformation of the presidential contest we are now witnessing. I should note that it also doesn’t mean the the president will lose on November 6th. His lead is structural, both in terms of constituents as well as geography. There are many paths available for Obama to construct a electoral majority. For Romney the options are far fewer. Even if Romney’s momentum continues to build, there is a possibility of Romney eking out a slim victory in the popular vote, while losing by a far larger margin in the Electoral College.
The stakes in Tuesday’s debate could not be higher. For Romney the task is to build upon his momentum, for Obama it is to halt Romney in his tracks before he loses complete control of the race.
Paul JJ Payack, president, Global Language Monitor
A slightly different version of this article appeared on TheHill.com on October 15, 2012.
Two words can be used to distill the essence of Thursday Night’s Vice Presidential Debate: Malarkey Vs. Adorkable.
On the one hand you have Joe Biden in familiar territory talking, interrupting, spinning, smiling feverishly to help the Democrats regain control of the political narrative after the widely perceived misteps of the president in the first Presidential Debate; on the other you have Paul Ryan, the wunder wonk, attempting to demonstrate 1) that he is NOT Sarah Palin, and 2) that he is more than simply a policy wonk and has the attendant seriousness, intelligence and skill set necessary to sit a heartbeat away from the presidency. Both succeeded in their appointed tasks.
Though Biden used the term ‘malarkey’ to describe Ryan’s debate performance, it was Biden who more closely typified the concept of ’malarkey’ (bluster). Ryan did not stray too far from his policy wonk persona, but was fortunate that dorks, nerds and wonks are now in fashion. Hence the term ‘adorkable’ for ‘adorable dork’. In fact, The Global Language Monitor had named ‘adorkable’ as the Top Television Word of the Year just a month or so ago.
In terms of language usage, Biden used about 30% more passive voice than Ryan. Many believe that the passive voice is used to shade the truth, opposed to simple declarative sentences. Ryan and Biden both were relatively easy to understand according to the standardized algorithms coming in at 69.4 and 72.6 on the Reading Ease Scale. As for Grade Level, Ryan came in at 6.6, while Biden scored a 6.1. For comparison, Obama scored a 9.2 and Romney a 6.8 in their first debate.
(As a side note, Biden’s score (6.1) was the lowest ever recorded in a debate, surpassing Ross Perot’s previous low of 6.3).
Austin, Texas. October 9, 2012 — The controversy swirling around Obama’s debate performance completely misses the point. For better or worse, this is it. Stripped of all pretension. Devoid of the catch phrases and the swoons. Minus the Hollywood glam. This is he. Barack Obama. The man, unadorned. No longer do we see Obama through a glass dimly. Now we see him for who he is. This is neither to embellish nor dis-embellish the man. This is to see things for what they are and not what they ought — or ought not — to be.
At the Global Language Monitor we understand that life is not an exit poll; we cannot shape the reality of how we just voted. It is a zero-sum thing, a binary action, a one or a zero, a yes or a no. In the same manner we have tracked the narrative of Barack Obama the preceding five years, stripped of all adornment, searching for the reality that was all too frequently, standing right before us, actually in our midst, if only we had the will to open our eyes to see.
Of course we have unabashedly published our findings along the way but at that time our findings seemed a bit out-of-step, as indeed they were. Out-of-step with the perceived reality, but in step with reality as it was. Unlike most of life, a new president is graced with a honeymoon period, when missteps are overlooked, forgotten, or forgiven. This is not the ‘suspension of disbelief’ that allows us to enjoy a fantastical story in the cinema but rather a ‘suspension of self-interest,’ where we put aside our partisan differences and wait. We wait for the cues and signals, both small and large, that will reveal the intentions, proclivities, and (dare I say it?) the character of the incumbent.
For some presidents this grace period is over nearly before it starts (Gerald Ford and George W. Bush come to mind). For others, it lasts a bit longer (George H.W. Bush), and for others longer still (Ronald Reagan). In the case of Barack Obama, the situation was markedly different. Being a black man, most Americans wanted him to succeed precisely because he was a black man. As a relative outsider, he was a welcome break from the recent past (and impending future) — Bush 41, Clinton 42, Bush 43, Clinton 44?
Being a newcomer, he was the classic tabula rasa, a blank slate upon which we could pour upon all our hopes and dreams. And change? Who on this planet did not want change from the preceding eight years: a divisive and disputed election, global terrorism and 9/11, two wars in the Middle East, a devastating tsunami, the inundation of one of America’s great cities, and to top it off, the global financial meltdown. All this being so, Barack Obama began his presidency with an extraordinarily large reservoir of good will. Let’s call this reservoir the Hope and Change Quotient (HCQ).
During Obama’s first days in office, the nation was engulfed in ’anger and rage’? GLM analyzed the situation back in February 2009 and found that what was being reported as ‘anger’ was actually ‘frustration,’ while what was being reported as ‘rage’ was actually ‘despair’, a sense of foreboding or impending doom. GLM followed this rather odd undercurrent during the earliest, most hopeful, days of the Obama administration. The results were striking, especially, in contrast to the immense outpouring of global goodwill in response to the inauguration of Barack Obama, since the survey included the ten days immediately following Obama’s swearing in. Some of the keywords showing heightened awareness were Abandoned, Despair, Desperation, and Fear — all appearing in the media with double digit increases over the pre-election period. This was perhaps an abberation we thought, but as we moved forward, the pattern continued unabated.
We saw a turning point with the Gulf Oil Spill speech. This was the opportunity to show the world how a US President would properly respond to a major crisis threatening the Gulf Coast, the ecosystem, and the forces of nature and the evil of Man (an arrogant CEO from Central casting, BP, Halliburton, and a 24×7 ‘Spill Cam’ spewing forth colorful filth, worthy of a Dreamworks 3-D treatment. And what did we get? We got what we had been measuring for the preceding two years: Obama 2.0, with an academic-sounding speech detailing a broad plan for an alternative-energy future and few specifics, and little of the hell-and-brimstone his followers had hope for.
By now it was becoming apparent for all to see. This was a changed and changing man, at least how he revealed himself publicly through speech. By time the 2010 Mid-Terms delivered their ‘shellacking’ the transformation was nearly complete. With a few noteworthy exceptions, such as his Tuscon eulogy,which ranked among his best, the President has appeared less-and-less engaged, more-and-more distant.
In July we noted that the top political buzzwords were telling a far different story than either campaign was presenting to the American people. Our analysis found that Bush was clearly assigned responsibility for the so-called Great Recession, while Obama was responsibility for the economy’s current condition, just as concern over Bain Capital and the ‘war against women’ were of less and little concern respectively. In other words, the American people saw the issues as if the virulent political ads of both parties did not exist. In contrast ‘Still believe the American Dream’ was No. 5 and ‘Disappointment in Obama Administration’ was No. 6.
At the same time, the Hope and Change Quotient has nearly been depleted, this being the normal course near the end of every president’s first term in recent memory. The President has finally been vetted. We now know the man, his strengths, weaknesses, and his proclivities. This is not to say that he will not win in his bid for re-election. But this is to say, that for better or worse, this is it.
This is the final narrative of Barack Obama.
GLM used NarrativeTracker Technology in this study. NarrativeTracker is based on the global discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture of what any audience is saying about any topic, at any point in time. NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, the top global print and electronic media, as well as new media sources as they emerge.
Paul JJ Payack is the president and Chief Word Analysts of Austin-based Global Language Monitor.
Austin Texas — October 4, 2012. In the first debate of the quadrennial Presidential Debate Season, it was like the 2010 Mid-terms all over again. Not that there were presidential debates in 2010. It’s just that President Obama seemed to revert to his ‘pre-shellacking’ public speaking form: a bit disengaged, a tad too dismissive and, dare we say it ‘professorial’?
Indeed, what seemed to surprise if not shock the 40,000,000 or so in last night’s viewing audience, was not the effective performance of Mitt Romney but rather the lackluster performance of the incumbent president. Many pundits had predicted the president would trounce his opponent in the debate, possibly creating an insurmountable gulf between them with some 30 days remaining before the election.
In mid-summer we published our Top Political Buzzwords of the Presidential Campaign and found profound differences between the actual concerns of the public and the political narratives of both parties. Last night’s debate was consistent with our findings; there was no talk of the politics of fear the ‘war against women’ of even mention of ‘the 47%’. However, the debate did point to profound difference in the belief systems of both parties, yet found enough common ground to produce distinct yet constructive and viable alternatives from which to choose.
One of the benefits of analyzing presidential debates, speeches and inaugural addresses for more than a decade, is the ability to make data-driven historical comparisons. These are especially effective when spotting trends and changes in direction. In 2007, spotted a man with a a truly captivating facility to turn an eloquent phrase. This man warranted comparisons with Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream’ and Reagan’s ‘Tear Down This Wall’ speeches with his own ‘Yes, We Can!’ victory speech in Chicago’s Grant Park.
However, it also tracked Obama’s sojourn to a more ‘inaccessible,’ sometimes even pedestrian speaking style. There were a number of turning points, a number of these occurring in 2010.
The numbers from last might’s debate bear this changing dynamic this out. For the President, the numbers tracked with his BP Gulf Oil Speech: long sentences, more passive voice, and a ninth-grade reading level (all of which can be signatures of considerable erudition). However, the numbers can also signify a less direct, less immediate communications style that differs considerably from the Obama to whom we were first introduced.
For Romney, his numbers were the reverse of the President (at least for the night): shorter sentences, easier to understand, his seventh-grade reading level closer to the of Obama of Grant Park.
- The top priority is the Current US Economy (1)
- Responsibility for the Current US Economy is assigned to Obama (1)
- Responsibility for Great Recession is assigned to Bush (7)
- The name Obamacare is favored over the Affordable Healthcare Act by a 25:1 margin (3, 42)
- The hot button top Illegal Aliens is relegated to the No. 21 position
- The Affordable Healthcare Act [is recognized] as a Middle-class tax (25)
- Bain Capital is pushed into the background at No. 27
- The recent Supreme Court Affordable Healthcare Act ruling and Chief Justice John Roberts appears at a modest No. 32 just below Hydraulic Fracturing (31).
- The issues of the The 1% registers at No. 36, Super Pacs at No.37, and Teachers Unions at No.38.
- Current US Economy (with Obama Ownership)
- Toxic Politics
- Out-of-control Spending
- The American Dream Still alive
- Disappointment in Obama Administration
- Bush Responsible for Great Recession
- The Iraq War
- Stimulus Package
- Wall Street Bailout
- Mormonism in Politics
- Rise of China
- US Debt Crisis
- Middle Class Whites
- Identifying opponents as Haters (or -phobic)
- Transparency in Government
- Excited about Presidential Election
- Not Excited about Presidential Election
- The Euro Crisis affecting US
- Hilary Clinton
- Illegal Aliens
- Climate Change
- Politics of Fear
- Afghanistan War
- Middle-class tax (Affordable Care Act)
- Wall Street Occupy Movement
- Bain Capital
- Pregnancy Reduction and sex selective abortion
- Drone Strikes
- Hydraulic Fracturing
- John Roberts Healthcare
- George Bush Responsible for US Economy
- Keystone Pipeline
- Obama responsible for Great Recession
- Deficit Spending
- The 1%
- Super Pacs
- Teachers Unions
- Global Terrorism
- Nuclear Iran
- Affordabe Healthcare Act
- Long-term Unemployment
- Bush Tax Cuts Affecting Middle Class
- Progressive politics
- Decline US Manufacturing
- Political Stalement
- Angry White Males
- Obstructionist Congress
- War Against Women
- Romney Wealth
Obesogenic, Derecho (and gender-neutral ‘hen’) take on Apocalypse, Kate and Debt
Number of Words in the English Language: 1,016,672 (July 6 estimate)
AUSTIN, Texas July 10 – Trending 2012 Update: Obesogenic, Derecho (and the gender neutral ‘hen’) are taking on the Mayan Apocalypse, Kate, and Debt as candidates for the Top Word of the Year according to a mid-year update by the Global Language Monitor. Each year, GLM produces the top trending words for the following year just before the new year begins. In 2011, it announced 12 possible candidates; mid-way through the year the three new terms have been added to the list.
- Obesogenic — An environment that tends to encourage obesity. Lately it has been used to describe television advertisement that promote sugary and high-calorie snacks to kids.
- Derecho — A ‘land hurricane,’ a sudden storm with extremely strong one-directional winds, such as occurred in the Eastern states earlier this month.
- Hen — The Swedish attempt to create a gender-neutral pronoun to replace him or her or combinations therefore: hen.
“The new words are taken from an intensifying debate on obesity as a major societal health crisis, a ‘land Hurricane’ that some link to global warming. and a move sometimes viewed as political correctness to end gender distinction among pronouns,” said Paul JJ Payack, the president and chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor. ”At 2012′s mid-point, there has been considerable movement among the top trending words, and that trend will no doubt continue as it has during the entire life of our 1400-year old language.”
The words are culled from throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.83 billion speakers (January 2012 estimate).
The Trending Top Words of 2012 in revised order:
Rank/ Previous Rank/ Word / Comments
1. China (3) — Middle Kingdom – There is little indication that China’s continuing economic surge will fade from the global media spotlight –or abate.
2. Europe (12) — United, breaking apart, saving the Euro, abandoning the Euro, with the UK again as an ‘interested onlooker’. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
3. The Election (6) — No Obama-mania this time around, more of an Obama-ennui for the November 6 elections.
4. Kate (2) — There are seven billion humans on the planet but sometimes it seems that it’s all about Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton in terms of fashion, celebrity, and the royal line. (And most definitely not Katie, the future ex-Mrs. Tom Cruise.)
5. Deficit (7) — Looks like deficit-spending will plague Western democracies for at least the next decade.
6. Global Warming (10)— The earth has been warming since New York was covered under a mountain of ice; what makes 2012 any different?
7. Derecho (New) — A ‘land hurricane,’ a sudden storm with extremely strong one-directional winds, such as occurred in the Eastern states earlier this month.
8. Olympiad (2) — The Greeks measured time by the four-year interval between the Games. Moderns measure it by medal counts, rights fees and billions of eyeballs.
9. CERN (9) — Neutrons traveling faster than light? The ‘God Particle’? The world ending in a mini-black hole? All these somehow revolve around CERN (The European Center for Nuclear Research). One CERN scientist calculated that the chance of a mini-Black Hole swallowing the Earth is less than 1 in 50,000,000. Somewhat comforting until you realize this is about ten times more likely than winning a national lottery.)
10. Rogue nukes (8)— Iran and North Korea will be the focus of attention here.
11. Near-Earth Asteroid (11) — Yet another year, another asteroid, another near-miss. (However, one does strike the Earth every one hundred million years or so.)
12. Arab Spring (13) — the successor term for ‘Arab Spring’, whatever that might be.
13. Bak’tun (4) — A cycle of 144,000 days in the Maya ‘Long Count’ Calendar. This bak’tun ends on December 21, 2012, also being called the Mayan Apocalypse. (Actually Maya ‘long-count’ calendars stretch hundreds of millions of years into the future, December 21st merely marks the beginning of a new cycle.)
14. Solar max (5)— The peak of the 11-year sunspot cycle; in 1854 solar storms melted telegraph wires; what’s in store for our all-pervasive electronic infrastructure?
15. Hen (New) — The Swedish attempt to create a gender-neutral pronoun to replace him or her or combinations thereof: hen.
16. Obesogenic (New) — An environment that tends to encourage obesity. Lately it has been used to describe television advertisement that promote sugary and high-calorie snacks to kids.
The Top Words for 2011: ‘Occupy’ was the Top Word, ‘Arab Spring’ the Top Phrase and ‘Steve Jobs’ the Top Name of 2011 in its twelfth annual global survey of the English language.
GLM employs its NarrativeTracker technologies for global Internet and social media analysis. NarrativeTracker is based on global discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture about any topic, at any point in time.
NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the top 250,000 print and electronic global media, as well as new social media sources as they emerge.
Obama’s ”Private Sector doing just fine” now an Internet Meme
Comparisons to Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” Proliferate
Measures Level II the five level-Internet-Meme Intensity Index (IMII)
Austin, Texas, June 9-11, 2012. The Internet Meme that ignited when President Obama pronounced ”The private sector is doing just fine,” at his Friday news conference is now at Level II on the Global Language Monitor’s five-level InternetMeme Intensity Index (IMII). One proliferating image conflates George W. Bush’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ photo with Obama’s face intruding onto the scene. Though this montage has been in circulation for some time, it was given new life from the president’s remarks in his June 8 news conference.
Bush’s ’Mission Accomplished’ I-meme is one of the earliest political memes ever recorded, though the president, himself, never actually uttered those words on May 1, 2003. GLM receives frequent queries, even from the news media, asking when and where those words were recorded.
Bush delivered his prepared text focusing on ‘end of major combat operations’ from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln some thirty miles off the coast of San Diego. In the background, was the typical banner that is arrayed on ships returning from combat operations: Mission Accomplished.
In the analysis, GLM found that Obama cross-referenced with “mission accomplished” citations, surpass those related to Bush by a 9:7 margin.
“Internet Memes can spread quickly or build slowly. The ‘Doing Just Fine’ meme is in a position to build through the November elections, depending, of course, on the ability of the Obama team to deflate it, and the Romney’s team to encourage its propagation,” said Paul JJ Payack, GLM’s president and chief word analyst.
“However, one thing is certain, once a meme ‘ignites,’ it follows its own rules and it future path is not always easy to predict.”
The life cycle of an I-Meme typically follows four stages: 1) Ignition, 2) Verification, 3) Launch, and 4) Propagation.
The last I-Meme crossing the threshold for measurement was the ‘Jolie Leg’ meme ignited during the Academy Award ceremonies last Spring.
Since its ignition, the ‘Doing Just Fine’ meme climbed to Level 2 (out of 5) on the GLM Internet Meme Intensity Index (IMII). GLM will continue to monitor the I-meme as it propagates and evolves.
GLM used NarrativeTracker 2.0 for this analysis. NT2.0 is based on global discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture of what the public is saying about any topic, at any point in time. NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the top 200,000 print and electronic global media, as well as new media sources, as they emerge.
About Global Language Monitor
Austin-based Global Language Monitor is the pioneer in web-based media analytics. Founded in Silicon Valley, GLM collectively documents, analyzes and tracks trends in language usage worldwide, with a particular emphasis upon the English language.
For information on GLM’s Internet Meme Tracking Services and the Internet Meme Intensity Index, call 1.512.815.8836, go to www.LanguageMonitor.com , call 1.512.815.8836 or email email@example.com.
Three Distinct Narratives during Presidency
President Obama’s State of the Union Address earlier this week provided the Global Language Monitor the opportunity to analyze the changing Obama Narrative since he rose to the national prominence some five years ago. GLM found three distinct narratives with the communication styles supporting each narrative forming arcs of their own, characterized by their specific word choices, styles of delivery, rhetoric, and diction.
Obama 1.0 Narrative
We had Obama 1.0 whose narrative was that of soaring rhetoric, of hope and inclusiveness, and meeting ourselves in the future.
This was the “Yes, We Can!” presidential hopeful who would lead us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, harness Iran, close down Git-mo, bring peace to the Holy Land and then get elected to the presidency. This was the time of short declarative sentences or finely honed sentences that would never end, but who cared? This was the un-Bush and proud to say it. This was yet another ‘New Order for the Ages’”.
Obama 1.0 Frequent Word Choices: Americans, Change, Hope, Dreams, Unity
Then the Bush Iraq war policies were kept in place (or even expanded), Guantanamo remained (and still remains) open. This transformation occurred as the hopes and dreams that Obama represented collided with a very real political reality, of war and terrorism, of K-Street operatives, and healthcare plans that had to be passed it in order to know what was in them.
This was the era when the top political buzzwords included ‘anger and rage’, the residue remaining from the (still-ongoing both then and now) global economic restructuring. GLM tested out the new meme and found that what had been characterized as ‘anger and rage’ was actually better represented as ‘frustration and disappointment’.
Obama 2.0 Narrative
The Obama 2.0 Narrative that emerged from the bitter and prolonged healthcare battle, where the behind the scenes wheeling-and-dealing seemed to equal (or even surpass) the worst in memory. Obama 2.0 was now viewed as an ‘aloof’ president who presided over the decision to ‘surge’ in Afghanistan, expanded Bush’s drone warfare, culminating in the president’s handling of the Gulf oil spill and the nationwide speech he then delivered.
Obama’s speech was considered a turning point by many supporters who longed for a leader who would demonstrate how an engaged president would quickly and effectively reach out to those in dire need during such an event (the direct opposite of the Bush response to Katrina). This was to prove not be the case – and the ‘Spill-Cam’ made it all the worse as the oil spouted forth, 24 x 7, for weeks on end.
The voters delivered their verdict on Obama 2.0 in early November 2010, where Obama’s party was pommelled by historic proportions.
Obama 2.0 frequent word choices: surge, Tea Party, deficit, oil spill, healthcare.
The Obama 3.0 Narrative
When President Obama delivered his third and possibly final State of the Union address, he used language that seemed to introduce yet another public persona. This would be his third since his emergence into the spotlight in 2007.
Judging from the language used during his recent State of the Union address, the Obama 3.0 Narrative will be very much like those of George W. Bush, with equal portions of the second term Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and even a sprinkling of JFK. The Obama 3.0 Narrative’s word choices are only remotely attached to those of Ted Kennedy (and even Al Gore). Those of Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter were definitely eschewed.
Obama 3.0’s Narrative, according to his word choices and focus was on “American Values,” even citing “America as the indispensable nation” (Madeline Albright’s phrasing) apparently an updated reference to ‘American exceptionalism’, a phrase normally verboten to the American Left, since it can represent cultural imperialism and American political hegemony.
The president also emphasized phrases and buzzwords that are generally considered to skew right:
- Mentioned America and Americans nearly fifty times (vs. 11 times in his Inaugural Address)
- Defining issue was reclaiming American values.
- Offered unvarnished praise for the military
- Praised increased oil and oil production.
- Preaching fiscal and individual responsibility
- Highlighted “More feet on the border than ever before”
Finally, the use of negative words and phrases nearly surpassing that of positive words phrases in the State of the Union address.
Obama Narrative 3.0 is strikingly different than that of his campaign and early administration.
In some ways this could be the Left’s worst nightmare: a potentially transformative president, now turning into a Bill Clinton/Ronald Reagan hybrid.
In other ways this could be the Right’s worst nightmare: Obama as the 1996 Bill Clinton, adjusting to his Mid-term ‘thumpin’ and rushing to the center to win a second term.
GLM used NarrativeTracker Technology in this study. NarrativeTracker is based on the global discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture of what any audience is saying about any topic, at any point in time. NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, the top global print and electronic media, as well as new media sources as they emerge.
Paul JJ Payack is the president of Global Language Monitor.
Top “Ambush Marketers” For London Olympics: KFC, IBM Global Services, Dell, and Nike among Leaders
Non-sponsors Continue to Rank High on Brand Affiliation Index (BAI)
Austin, Texas, January 12, 2012. KFC, IBM Global Services, Dell, and Nike were among the Top “Ambush Marketers” for the London 2012 Olympics as ranked by The Global Language Monitor (GLM), the Internet and Media Trend Tracking Company. In the rankings, encompassing Q3 and Q4 of 2011, GLM measured the strength of the brand affiliation for each official Olympic sponsor as well as those of their primary competitors.
“Though ‘ambush marketing’ is well understood to mean an organization knowingly exploiting a brand affiliation with the Games — without the benefit of official sponsorship. However, all perceived Olympic sponsors according to their presence in the global media, and statistically linked to the London Games, qualify for GLM’s Ambush Marketing Index, said Paul JJ Payack; president of the Austin, Texas based Global Language Monitor. “There is more than pride at stake, since the official sponsors generate some 30% of the revenue needed to stage the Games.”
There are twenty-five top official Olympic sponsors divided into three tiers: Worldwide Partners, Official Partners, and Official Supporters. GLM tracks over fifty non-affiliated companies that are direct competitors with the Official Olympic sponsors.
Measuring each tier against their ambushers, GLM has found that for the second half of 2011, each tier of Ambushers beats their legitimate competitors according to the Tier’s Q4 Brand Affiliation Index.
Wiorldwide Partner-A 30.09
Among Worldwide Partners, Coca-Cola, DOW, and P&G scored the highest on GLM’s Brand Affiliation Index (BAI) for Q4 2011. In terms of movement, Omega and Coca-Cola both improved their BAIs by some 350%, over the last half of 2011. Among Worldwide Partner Ambushers, IBM Global Services, Royal Phillips, HP, Barclaycard, and Dell all scored significantly higher on GLM’s BAI for Q4 2011 than their Worldwide Partner competitors. In terms of movement, IBM Global Services, Dell, and KFC all improved their BAI’s by 250% or more through the end of 2011.
Among Official Partners, EDF Energy, Lloyds TSB, and the BT Group scored the highest on GLM’s Brand Affiliation Index (BAI) for Q4 2011. In terms of movement, Lloyds TSB, the BT Group, and BP, all improved their BAI more than 100% over the last half of 2011. Among Official Partner Ambushers, UnitedContinental (BA), the 3i Group (Lloyds TSB), and all scored significantly higher on GLM’s BAI for Q4 2011 than their Worldwide Partner competitors. In terms of movement, the 3i Group (Lloyds TSB), UnitedContinental (BA), and Nike (Adidas) all improved their BAI’s by 250% or more through the end of 2011.
Among Official Supporters, Arcelor Mittal, UPS, and Cadbury scored the highest on GLM’s Brand Affiliation Index (BAI) for Q4 2011. In terms of movement, Arcelor Mittal, Cadbury, Cisco Systems, and Adecco all improved their BAI more than 200% over the last half of 2011. Among Official Supporter Ambushers, Hebie Steel (Arcelor Mittal), Kraft (Cadbury), and PricewaterhouseCoopers (Delloite) all scored significantly higher on GLM’s BAI for Q4 2011 than their Official Supporter competitors. In terms of movement, Hebie Steel (Arcelor Mittal), DHL (UPS), and Ericsson (Cisco) improved their BAI’s by 250% or more through the end of 2011.
Customized GLM Ambush Marketing Rankings are released monthly up to and following London 2012. They can also be individualized for any organization. The Ambush Marketing London 2012 report features dozens of charts representing the interrelationship of each company to the Olympic Brand, their competitors and their partners. In addition, the reports contain exclusive and individualized Narrative Tracker analyses, the most advanced trend tracking analytics available. For more information, individualized reports, or a monthly subscription, call +1.512.551.3627 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Global Language Monitor’s Top Words of 2012 projections from current word trends
AUSTIN, Texas December 26, 2011 – Trending 2012: Multiple End-of-World scenarios, Kate, China, CERN, the Olympics, The US Elections will dominate word creation and usage in the English language in 2012.
This is according to current word trends in global English being tracked by the Global Language Monitor. Last month, Austin, Texas-based Global Language Monitor had announced that ‘Occupy’ was the Top Word, ‘Arab Spring’ the Top Phrase and ‘Steve Jobs’ the Top Name of 2011 in its twelfth annual global survey of the English language.
The words are culled from throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.83 billion speakers (January 2012 estimate).
The Projected Top Words of 2012
1. Kate — There are seven billion humans on the planet but sometimes it seems that it’s all about Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton in terms of fashion, celebrity, and the royal line.
2. Olympiad — The Greeks measured time by the four-year interval between the Games. Moderns measure it by medal counts, rights fees and billions of eyeballs.
3. Middle Kingdom – There is little indication that China’s continuing economic surge will fade from the global media spotlight –or abate.
4. Bak’tun — A cycle of 144,000 days in the Maya ‘Long Count’ Calendar. This bak’tun ends on December 21, 2012, also being called the Mayan Apocalypse. (Actually Maya ‘long-count’ calendars stretch hundreds of millions of years into the future, December 21st merely marks the beginning of a new cycle.)
5. Solar max — The peak of the 11-year sunspot cycle; in 1854 solar storms melted telegraph wires; what’s in store for our all-pervasive electronic infrastructure?
6. The Election — No Obama-mania this time around, more of an Obama-ennui for the November 6 elections.
8. Rogue nukes — Iran and North Korea will be the focus of attention here.
9. CERN — Neutrons traveling faster than light? The ‘God Particle’? The world ending in a mini-black hole? All these somehow revolve around CERN (The European Center for Nuclear Research). One CERN scientist calculated that the chance of a mini-Black Hole swallowing the Earth is less than 1 in 50,000,000. Somewhat comforting until you realize this is about ten times more likely than winning a national lottery.)
10. Global Warming — The earth has been warming since New York was covered under a mountain of ice; what makes 2012 any different?
11. Near-Earth Asteroid — Yet another year, another asteroid, another near-miss. (However, one does strike the Earth every one hundred million years or so.)
GLM employs its NarrativeTracker technologies for global Internet and social media analysis. NarrativeTracker is based on global discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture about any topic, at any point in time.
NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the top 75,000 print and electronic global media, as well as new social media sources as they emerge.
“The year 2012 looks to be a vibrant year for the English language with word creation again driven by events both scheduled and unanticipated. Typically there is an ‘end-of-the-world’ scenario every few years that impacts the English language. This year we will see no fewer than three, including the Maya Apocalypse and the Solar Max,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM.
”Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, will compete with the London Olympics, the economic surge of China, various activities involving the CERN atom smasher, and the US presidential election for Top Word honors, though we always allow for word creation generated from unexpected events such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or the Japanese ‘triple disaster’ of 2011.”
Rank / Word / Comments
7. Deficit — Looks like deficit-spending will plague Western democracies for at least the next decade.
12. Europe — United, breaking apart, saving the Euro, abandoning the Euro, with the UK again as an ‘interested onlooker’. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
Bonus Phrase: The successor term for ‘Arab Spring’, whatever that might be.
Occupy is the Top Word of the Year,
Arab Spring is the Top Phrase of the Year and
Steve Jobs is the Top Name of the Year
Global Language Monitor’s 12th Annual Survey of Global English
AUSTIN, Texas December 6, 2011 (Updated from November 10) — The Global Language Monitor has announced that ‘Occupy’ is the Top Word, ‘Arab Spring’ the Top Phrase and ‘Steve Jobs’ the Top Name of 2011 in its annual global survey of the English language. Occupy was followed by deficit, fracking, drone, and non-veg. Kummerspeck, haboob, 3Q, Trustafarians, and (the other) 99 rounded out the Top 10.
“Our selections this year, to a large extent, reflect the ongoing political and economic uncertainty that seems to be affecting much of the developed world – with notable exceptions such as the Royal wedding and the continuing rise of China ,” said Paul JJ Payack, President of the Global Language Monitor.
“Our top words, phrases and names this year come from five continents… confirmation of the ever-expanding influence of the English language.
“The words are culled from throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.58 billion speakers. The Global Language Monitor’s Word of the Year rankings are based upon actual word usage in the English speaking world.
“In global English, words are not bestowed upon, agreed upon, or voted upon by cultural or academic elites but, rather, words are defined from the bottom up, that is, by the people themselves — and this is true whether in the East End of London, or south-central LA, the projects in Brooklyn, the slums of Kingston, the call centers of Mumbai, the streets of Singapore, the text messages out of Shanghai, or the fashion districts of Sydney.”
GLM employs its NarrativeTracker technologies for global Internet and social media analysis. NarrativeTracker is based on global discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture about any topic, at any point in time. NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the top 75,000 print and electronic global media, as well as new social media sources.
BBC Magazine: The rich: Exactly what does that mean?
.2011, l’année Steve Jobs?
(Time Person of the Year?)
Nunberg also selects ‘occupy’ as the 2011 Word of the Year
The Top Words of 2011
Rank / Word / Comments
2. Deficit – Growing and possibly intractable problem for the economies of the developed world.
3. Fracking – Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial method for extracting fossil fuels from hitherto unreachable deposits.
4. Drone – The ever increasing number of remotely piloted aircraft used for reconnaissance and attack purposes.
5. Non-veg – A meal served with meat, originally from India, now catching on worldwide.
6. Kummerspeck – From the German seeing wider acceptance in the English, excess weight gained from emotional overeating (grief bacon).
7. Haboob – A name imported from the Arabic for massive sandstorms in the American Southwest.
8. 3Q – Near universal term for ‘thank you’ now earning additional status after being banned from official Chinese dictionaries. Another example of the ever- increasing mixing of numbers and letters to form words.
9. Trustafarians – Well-to-do youth (trust-funders) living a faux-Bohemian life style, now associated with the London Riots.
The Top Phrases of 2011
Rank / Phrase / Comment
1. Arab Spring – The series of uprisings, social protests, and rebellions occurring among many nations of the Arab World beginning this spring.
2. Royal Wedding – The wedding of the former Kate Middleton and heir-to-the-British-Throne, Prince William that captivated millions around the world.
3. Anger and Rage – Characterizations of the global electorate by the pundits, though closer analyses has revealed more frustration than anger and more disappointment than rage.
4. Climate Change – No. 1 phrase for the first decade of the 21st century; still resonates into its second decade.
5. The Great Recession – Though officially over, the media term most frequently used to describe the on-going global economic restructuring.
6. Tahrir Square – The scene of the ‘25th of January’ demonstrations in Cairo against Hosni Mubarak.
7. Linear No Threshold (LNT) – The methodology to calculate risk from exposure to radioactive elements from the Fukushima Daiiachi disaster.
9. ‘How’s that working out for you?’ – The New York Times credits Sarah Palin, but it predates her use of the phrase by several decades.
10. “Make no mistake about it!” – President Obama has repeated the phrase thousands of times since his 2008 election.
The Top Names of 2011
Rank / Name / Comments
2. Osama bin-Laden & Seal Team 6 – Who changed the world more? Al-Qaeda or Steve Jobs?
3. Fukushima – The epicenter of the Japanese Triple Disaster (earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown).
4. Mohamed Bouazizi – the Tunisian fruit vendor who set himself afire and became the symbol of Tunisian resistance – and the Arab Spring.
5. Chinese Paramount Leader Hu Jintao – The Rise of the Tiger being a primary cause of the Global Economic Restructuring.
6. Kate Middleton – She captivated the world with her elegance and style and continues to do so as the Duchess of Cambridge.
7. Muammar Gaddafi – Libyan strongman toppled in the recent insurrection.
8. President Obama – Hope and Change retreat further into the history books; the game plan is now for survival.
9. PIIGS – The nations of Portugal, Ireland, Italy Greece and Spain taken together for their untenable deficits possibly affecting the economic health of the Eurozone.
10. Yaroslavl Lokomotiv – The ill-fated elite Russian hockey team that was virtually wiped out in the crash of a three-engine Yak-42.
Top Words of the Decade
The Top Words of the Decade Global Warming, 9/11, and Obama outdistanced Bailout, Evacuee, and Derivative; Google, Surge, Chinglish, and Tsunami followed. Climate Change was top phrase; Heroes was the top name.
Previous Words of the Year include:
Top Words: No. 1 Spillcam, No. 2 Vuvuzela, No. 3 The Narrative
Top Phrases: No. 1 Anger and Rage, No. 2 Climate Change, No. 3 The Great Recession
Top Names: No. 1 Hu Jintao, paramount leader of China, No. 2 iPad, No. 3 Barack Obama
Top Words: No. 1 Twitter, No. 2 Obama-, No. 3 H1N1
Top Phrases: No. 1 King of Pop, No. 2 Obama-mania, No. 3 Climate Change
Top Names: No. 1 Obama, No. 2 Michael Jackson, No. 3 Mobama
Top Words: No. 1 Change, No. 2 Bailout, No. 3 Obama-mania
Top Phrases: No. 1 Financial Tsunami, No. 2 Global Warming, No. 3 “Yes, We Can!”
Top Names: No. 1 Barack Obama, No. 2 George W. Bush, No.3 Michael Phelps
Top Words: No. 1 Hybrid (representing all things green), No. 2: Surge
Top Phrase: Climate Change
Top Name: Al Gore
Top Word: Sustainable
Top Phrase: Stay the Course
Top Name: Dafur
Top Words: No. 1, Refugee No. 2: Tsunami No. 3: Katrina
Top Phrase: Outside the Mainstream
Top Name: (acts of ) God
Top Word: Incivility (for inCivil War)
Top Phrase: Red States/Blue States No. 2: Rush to War
Top Name: Dubya/Rove
Top Word: Embedded
Top Phrase: Shock and Awe, No. 2: Rush to War
Top Name: Saddam Hussein, No. 2 Dubya
Top Word: Misunderestimate
Top Phrase: Threat Fatigue
Top Name: W (Dubya)
Top Word: Ground Zero
Top Phrase: ‘Lets Roll’
Top Name: The Heros
Top Word: Chad
Top Phrase: Dot.com
Top Name: W (Dubya)
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, call 1.512.815.8836, email info@LanguageMonitor.com, or visit www.LanguageMonitor.com.
Egad! What’s the ‘chad’ blocking the path to the White House?
November 13, 2000
Web posted at: 11:19 a.m. EST (1619 GMT)
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) — The final answer to who’s going to be the next U.S. president may be determined by “chad.”
So who, or what, is chad?
A) A country in Africa?
B) The name of a saint?
C) Rob Lowe’s brother?
D) A lowly scrap of paper that may decide who will be the next leader of the free world?
All four answers are correct. Chad is also the name of a couple of major league baseball players and one half of a British pop-singing duo from the ’60s.
But if you guessed “D,” you are informed enough to understand the vote counting process in Florida.
Politicians are tossing the term “chad” around as if everyone were familiar with the word. Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore’s campaign adviser, George Mitchell, is among them.
“You can run those machine ballots through five times and you’ll get five different totals because the chads fall off with each count,” he said, explaining on “Fox News Sunday” the reason he believes ballots in Florida should be recounted by hand.
But Mitchell’s use of “chads” betrayed his own lack of familiarity with the word. “Chad is its own plural,” said Paul J.J. Payack, president and CEO of yourdictionary.com, which is based in California.
The Web site www.yourdictionary.com defines the word as follows:
|1. The confetti-like scrap punched out of cards or paper tape (also “chaff,” “computer confetti” or “keypunch droppings”).|
|2. The perforated strips on the edge of paper for sprocket feed printers after they have been separated from the printed portion (also “perf,” “perfory,” or “snaf”).|
|Etymology: Possibly from the last name of the inventor of the Chadless cardpunch, which cut U-shapes in punch cards, rather than open circles or rectangles. (The U’s formed holes when folded back.)|
“Chad” would then be a back-formation from “Chadless” misunderstood: If the Chadless keypunches don’t produce it, other keypunches must produce “chad.”
The word appears to have entered the national lexicon in the late 1940s, around the time people began to refer to “bug” as a computer glitch after a researcher blamed a moth among a group of vacuum tubes for affecting ENIAC, the primitive computer powered by thousands of such tubes, said Payack. That was also about the time when IBM began using punch cards that warned users not to fold, spindle or mutilate.
In Florida, vote-counters may have wished for a “chadometer” to measure whether a bit of chad is sufficiently dislodged to qualify it as “dangling.”
When the hand recount began in Palm Beach County, the canvassing board there said it would count a vote if any of the corners of the chad were punched.
The board then decided that they would instead use the “sunlight test” — if they could see sun through an indentation, it would count.
About a quarter of the way through the counting, however, a board member determined that the light test was flawed and told the other members to go back to the first test.
According to county spokesman Bob Nichols, there are five types of chad.
Ones that count:
• Hanging door — one corner hanging off
• Swinging door — two corners hanging off
• Tri-chad — three corners hanging off
Chads that don’t count:
• Pregnant — bulges, but not punched through
• Dimple — simple indentation
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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.
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).
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.]
Sarah Palin’s Emails Written At 8th Grade Level — Better Than Some CEOs
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.]
Rise of China Still Tops all Stories
Royal Wedding breaks in at No. 5; Obama top mover (+4)
AUSTIN, Texas May 6, 2011 – The Top News Stories of the 21st century have been shuffled by the historic events of the still young 2011, according to the Austin-based Global Language Monitor. The death of Osama bin-Laden, the Royal Wedding, between Prince William and the former Kate Middleton, the unprecedented series of Japanese disasters, and the series of uprisings now known as the the Arab Spring have all broken into the Top Ten.
The on-going rise of China to first-tier nation status continues as No. 1. The election of Barack Obama to the US presidency moved up to the second spot, followed by the death of bin-Laden, and the springing of the Wikileaks followed. The Royal Wedding pushed ahead of the death of Michael Jackson and also replaced Jackson as top celebrity-driven event of the century thus far. The 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Japanese Disasters, the Arab Spring and the Global Economic Restructuring rounded out the Top Ten.
The acceleration of the news cycle has been a long-observed fact, however the acceleration of the news itself can also be viewed as unprecedented,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and the Chief Word Analyst of Austin-based Global Language Monitor.“
The full list of the Top 20 News Stories of the 21st century thus far follows. The includes the story and its rank, the year the story first broke, its ranking in 1999 and its movement (if any).
Rank of Story, Year the Story Began, Last Ranking in 2009 and Movement
1. Rise of China 2000 1 (Same)
2. Election of Barack Obama 2008 6 (+4)
3. Bin-laden Killed 2011 New —
4. Wikileaks Published 2010 New —
5. Royal Wedding British 2011 New —
6. Death of Michael Jackson 2009 5 (-1)
7. 9/11 Terrorist Attacks 2001 3 (-4)
8. Japanese Disasters 2011 2011 New —
9. Arab Spring 2011 New —
10. Global Economic Restructuring 2008 7 (-3)
11. War on Terror 2001 4 (-7)
12. Iraq War 2003 2 (-10)
13. Hurricane Katrina 2005 8 (-5)
14. Social Media as Strategic Weapon 2011 New —
15. South Asian Tsunami 2004 12 (-3)
16. Osama bin-Laden Search 2001 15 (-1)
17. iPad Launch 2010 New —
18. Death of Pope John Paul II 2005 14 (-4)
19. War against Taliban 2002 13 (-6)
20. War in Afghanistan 2002 9 (-11)
GLM employed it NarrativeTracker Technology in analyzing the data. NarrativeTracker first focused on the number of citations found the Internet, blogosphere, and social media sites. The second focused on the top 75,000 print and electronic media sites. Finally, the two analyses were normalized.
You Don’t Say
‘Make no mistake,’ Obama is a big fan of his own catchphrases
BY ANTHONY DECEGLIE AND JENNY MERKINMONDAY, MARCH 28, 2011
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.
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
Prevailing view ‘harmless,’ Opposing views called ‘laced with hysteria’
AUSTIN, Texas. March 23, 2011. With radioactive elements from Japan’s Fukushima Daiiachi disaster finally reaching the continental US this week, the Global Language Monitor’s NarrativeTracker has found that the possible long-term dangers of Fukushima Daiiachi’s radioactive fallout has been little discussed in the media. In fact, there has been little or no discussion of the ongoing debate about assessing the long-term risks associated with Cesium-137 and Iodine-131, etc.
The prevailing view of the global print and electronic media is to pronounce the radioactive elements ‘harmless,’ which is in direct contract to the accepted view of the National Academy of Sciences, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and many others. In fact, the discussion that does appear, labels opposing views as ‘irrational’ or ‘laced with hysteria’, as in a recent article in the New York Times.
According the the Global Language Monitor’s NarrativeTracker there have been only two references to the controversy in the past week in the major global media, or even to the fact that the analysis of the heath impact of the escaped radiation could be far off base. An article in the Malaysian Star was the most insightful. Even on the web news side, NarrativeTracker picked up fewer that half a dozen references to the controversy in the last week.
On the Internet and in Social Media, there were some 10,000 references to the controversy, which pales in comparison to news about, say Charlie Sheen (who has hundreds of million citations). In addition, there were about three million references to the ‘harmless’ effects of the Fukushima fallout, with about 7,000,000 references to its ‘dangers’.
Therefore, the prevailing and accepted view of the National Academy of Sciences, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and, for that matter, the US Congress has been overlooked in the global media discussion. This is the view that holds sway in legislation ranging from the regulation of cigarettes, CT scans and the Hanford Reservation cleanup. In addition to the risk to human life, billions of dollars in government are at stake.
The controversy concerns Linear No Threshold (LNT) methodology to calculate risk from exposure to radioactive elements. The LNT dose-response relationship is used to describe the relationship between radiation dose and the occurrence of cancer. This dose-response model suggests that any increase in dose, no matter how small, results in an incremental increase in risk. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) accepts the LNT hypothesis as a conservative model for estimating radiation risk.
There are two competing theories here.
1. There is no lower-level threshold to the threat from radioactive exposure. Basically this means that even a small exposure to radioactivity will increase the chance of cancer occurring in a corresponding small percentage of the population. The smaller the exposure, the smaller the risk, but the risk never falls to zero.
2. There is a lower-level threshold to the threat from radioactive exposure. This is model that the media has adopted in claims that the fallout is ‘harmless’ while still recognizing that it is harmful in large doses. Some scientists adhere to the radiation hormesis model that radiation might even be beneficial in very low doses
The LNT model is generally accepted by most governments and scientific agencies and predicts higher risks than the threshold model. Because the current data is inconclusive, scientists disagree on which methodology should be used.
However, the fact that there has been little or no discussion of the topic in the media is cause for concern.
Added: Chest x rays, Black swans, Dinosaur extinction event, Two packs-a-day
AUSTIN, Texas, March 21, 2011 — (Updated Daily) The Global Language Monitor has assembled the Japanese Disasters Need-to-Know Glossary to help understand the sometimes obtuse and ofter obscure terminology used in describing the concurrent Japanese Disasters that we are now witnessing.
We will add to the document as events continue to unfold.
“This is a tragedy of unprecedented proportions. We believe it is our responsibility to help people around the globe more fully understand the depth of the destruction and the nature of the circumstances that have already have and continue to unfold,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor.
|1.6 microseconds||Number of microseconds the Earth’s spin was increased by the Sendai earthquake|
|9.0 magnitude||The Japanese quake was 9.0 on the Richter Scale. This makes it about 700,000 times more powerful than last year’s Haitian earthquake. (See Richter Scale.)|
|12.5 magnitude||Theoretical magnitude of the Chicxulub asteroid impact 65,000,000,000 years ago that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. (However, mammals live through it.)|
|900 kph||The waves of the tsunami traveled traveled about as fast as of typical passenger jetliner (About 560 mph/900 kph)|
|Black Swan||Black Swan: rare but Nation-destroying disasters: an asteroid hitting the earth; a super volcano (Yellowstone Caldera) rending half a continent lifeless; a solar flare that destroys all modern communication systems. The Japanese Tri-Crisis qualifies as a Black Swab.|
|Cesium-137||Metal of the Alkali group that can signal the presence of a nuclear reaction. The half-life of Cesium 137 is 30 years. This means it would take about 200 years for something contaminated with it to lose all signs of radioactivity. Its name is derived from the Latin for a bluish-gray color|
|Chernobyl||The Chernobyl incident in Ukraine in 1986 was considered the world’s worst nuclear accident until now. A carbon-fed fire sent the radioactive elements high into the atmosphere affecting every country in Europe.|
|Chest X Ray||Each chest x ray exposes you to about .04 mSv. A major surgery might require 1,000 x rays, which would result in 40 mSv. A single CT heart scan results in a 12 mSv exposure.|
|China Syndrome||Theory that a molten nuclear core breeches its containment vessel (in the US) and proceeds through the Earth’s core all the way to China. This is not actually possible. (See Tierra del Fuego syndrome.)|
|Containment Building||(or vessel) Reinforced concrete structure made to serve as final barrier to entrap radioactive gases|
|Earthquake||Shaking of Earth’s crust due to underlying tectonic forces|
|Epicenter||The center of the earthquake, ofter miles underground.|
|Fuel Rods||The affected Japanese reactors have thousands of 12-foot long, zirconium-alloy fuel rods. Each contain thousands of uranium-oxide ceramic pellets. The fuel rods are densely packed into the reactor.|
|Fukushima 50||The fifty workers serving as the final defense against a catastrophic meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi.|
|Fukushima Daiichi||The nuclear reactors site with six boiling water reactors. 1, 2 and 6 were built by General Electric. 3, 4 and 5 were built by Toshiba. Fukushima Daiichi is 241 km (150 miles) from Tokyo.|
|Half-Life||The time it takes radioactive material to expend one half of its radioactivity. The longer the half-life, the more dangerous the material.|
|Hiroshima Bomb||The Hiroshima atomic bomb was detonated on August 6, 1945. It’s yield was estimated between 13 and 18 kilotons of TNT. It was set equivalent to a 6.2 magnitude quake.|
|IAEA||International Atomic Energy Agency is headquartered in Vienna.|
|Indian Ocean Tsunami||The Indian Ocean Tsunami on Boxing Day in 2004 resulted in waves over 18 meters (50 feet) high. Over 250,000 people were killed, some 5,000 km (3000 m) away.|
|International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES)||The INES, introduced in1990 by the IAEA, has seven levels, with 1-3 considered incidents and 4-7, accidents. The Fukushima incident was recently moved from Level 4 to 5 (equivalent to Three Mile Island). Chernobyl is the only Level 7 accident on record.). The French Nuclear Agency suggests Fukushima to be a Level 6.|
|Iodine-131||Iodine-131 is a highly radioactive element that signifies at least a partial meltdown. The half-life of Iodine-131 is about 8 days, which means that it decays far faster than Cesium-137. The radioactive iodine is concentrated in the thyroid, however taking iodine potassium tablets fill the thyroid to capacity so the radioactive Iodine -131 is more likely to be excreted.|
|Krakatoa||Indonesian Volcano that exploded in 1883 with a force equivalent to 8.5 magnitude (and some 200 megatons). Purported to be the loudest sound ever heard up to 5,000 km (or about 3,000 miles). The sound waves were measured to circle the earth seven times.|
|Linear No Threshold Model||LNT basically it means that even a small exposure to radioactivity will increase the chance of cancer occurring in a corresponding small percentage of the population. The smaller the exposure, the smaller the risk, but the risk never falls to zero. The LNT model is generally accepted by most governments and scientific agencies, but is considered controversial in some scientific circles. This is why you hear conflicting views from experts on the cancer risk.|
|Meltdown||When a core meltdown catastrophic melting of the core of a nuclear reactor due to a loss of cooling|
|No. 5||The earthquake was the fifth strongest since 1900.|
|Nuclear reactor||Devices that use chain reactions of fissionable materials to boil water to create steam. The steam runs through turbines to create power.|
|Plate tectonics||Theory that the continents rest on plates that drift into each other, causing earthquakes and mountain building|
|Prefecture||States or Provinces of Japan. There are 47 prefectures.|
|Richter scale||The logarithmic scale that measures the strength of an earthquake named after Charles Richter. It is a base-10 logarithmic scale. This means that an earthquake that measures 3.0 is 10 times more powerful that one measuring 2.0. The scale is open-ended, though the 1960 Chile quake measured at 9.6.|
|Sendai Earthquake||At 9.0 the Sendai earthquake was the fifth largest since 1900. The Sendai quake was equivalent to about 100,000 Hiroshima-class bombs.|
|Sievert and millisievert||(and millisievert) A unit of measurement for radiation dosage. According to the World Health Organization, the average person is exposed to about 3 millisieverts a year from natural sources and 3 mSv from human-made sources.|
|Three Mile Island||In 1979 Unit No. 2 of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania experienced a partial meltdown. Later it was found that the molten radioactive material penetrated within 1 centimeter of breaking through the containment barrier. Because of its location and the prevailing wind patterns, the fallout could have traveled over the heavily populated Eastern Seaboard, passing over Philadelphia, New York and possibly Boston with a population of more than 30,000,000.|
|Tierra del Fuego Syndrome||The China Syndrome when applied to the Far East (See China Syndrome.)|
|Tokyo||Capital of Japan with more than 30,000,000 people in its metropolitan area.|
|Tsar Bomba||The largest hydrogen bomb ever detonated, by the Soviet Union in 1961. It was about equal to a 7.8 magnitude quake in the general range of the San Francisco earthquake 0f 1908 and the Mount Saint Helen’s volcanic explosion in 1981.|
|Tsunami||From the Japanese tsu (harbor) and nami (wave); waves caused by undersea land movement; usually caused by earthquakes. A tsunami gathers destructive force as it nears land. Depending on the configuration of the shoreline, wave rise over ten-times in height.|
|Two Packs a Day||Smoking two packs of cigarettes a day exposes you to about 17 mSv per year. Smoke for a lifetime that’s 850 mSv.|