Words of the Year 2012

Apocalypse is the Top Word

Gangnam Style is the Top Phrase

Newtown AND Malala Yousafzai are the Top Names of the Year

Global Language Monitor’s 13th Annual Survey of Global English

Number of Words in the English Language:  1,019,729.6 (January 1, 2013 estimate)

AUSTIN, Texas  December 27, 2012  – The Global Language Monitor has announced that ‘Apocalypse’ is the Top Word, ‘Gangnam Style’ is the Top Phrase  and Newtown AND Malala Yousafzai are the Top Names of 2012 in its 13th annual global survey of the English language. 

Apocalypse was followed by deficit, Olympiad, Bak’tun, and meme.  Rounding out the top ten were MOOC, the Cloud, Omnishambles, Frankenstorm, and obesogenic.

“Apocalypse  (Armageddon, and similar terms) reflects a growing fascination with various ‘end-of-the-world’ scenarios, or at least the end of life as we know it.  This year the Mayan Apocalypse was well noted, but some eight of the top words and phrases were directly related to a sense of impending doom.” said Paul JJ Payack, President of the Global Language Monitor.

“These included:  Apocalypse, Bak’tun, Frankenstorm, Global Warming/Climate Change, God Particle, Rogue Nukes, Solar Max, Near-Earth Asteroid.  Media examples include the Mayan apocalypse frenzy in Russia, the US Presidential elections  (Obamageddon, Romneygeddon),  the threatened dissolution of the common currency in Europe (Eurogeddon), to the call for the United Nations to implement an ‘Armageddon-type’ policy to address previously undetected space rocks hurtling toward Earth.

“Our top words, phrases and names this year represent some five continents, which continues to confirm the ever-expanding nature of the English language.”

 

(See more on Apocalypse and Armageddon after the Top Words List.)

The Top Words of 2012 follow Rank/ Word / Comments

  1. Apocalypse / Armageddon, and variations thereof  – The word Apocalypse has been in ascendance in the English for more than 500 years.  However,recent years has witnessed an unprecedented resurgence of the word.
  2. Deficit — Looks like deficit-spending will plague Western democracies for at least the next decade. Note to economists of stripes:  reducing the rate of increase of deficit spending actually increases the deficit.
  3. 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.
  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. Meme – Internet Memes can best be conceived as thoughts or ideas rather than words, since they can and often do encompass sounds, photos, and text.  Memes are propagated through every imaginable form of electronic communications, eventually surfacing in the traditional print and electronic media.
  6. MOOC – Massive Open Online Course; the nature of higher education is changing and MOOC is the phenomenon to watch.
  7. The Cloud — Neither the play by Aristophanes nor a forgotten title by Hitchcock, but rather where your data heads after you press <enter>.
  8. Omnishambles — From the UK and the top word of the Oxford American Dictionary team, where everything, everywhere  seems to be in a state of disarray.
  9. Frankenstorm — Superstorm’s Sandy’s colloquial name. From a meteorologist’s lips to a globally recognized neologism within a few hours.
  10. 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.
  11. Hen — The Swedish attempt to create a gender-neutral pronoun to replace him or her or combinations thereof:  hen.
  12. Derecho — A ‘land hurricane,’ a sudden storm with extremely strong, one-directional winds, such as the storm that swept from the Midwest into the Washington, D.C. area earlier this year.
  13. Hashtag — The ‘pound sign’ reborn as the all-powerful Twitter hash tag; what next a re-branding of the period as a ‘full stop’.
  14. Drones — Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) that are piloted remotely or by on-board computers; mostly used for military applications.
  15. Fracking — The extraction of fossil fuels by hydraulic fracturing in rock formations, and injecting fluids to force the release of hitherto inaccessible hydrocarbons.
  16. Phobes — The Loyal Opposition? How 19th c. of you.  Opponents (of either side) are now cast as fear-filled and hateful phobes or haters.
  17. Superfood — An non-scientific term used to describe foods that are calorie sparse and nutrient dense.
  18. The 47 — Presidential candidate Mitt Romney characterization of the percentage of Americans who pay no Federal taxes.
  19. YOLO — You Only Live Once meant to convey derision or astonishment.
  20. Adorkable — The rise of the Nerds!  A portmanteau word from dork and adorable.

 

 

Listen to Last Year’s (2011) Top Words of the Year

 

 

The words Apocalypse and Armageddon are intermixed in the current English language media.  New words or neologisms are created with both stems  all referring to some type of  ’end-of-the-world-type’ phenomena.  Both words stem from the final book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation in which the final battle between good and evil (Armageddon) is revealed (apokalyptein).

Apocalyptic terms are combination or ‘portmanteau’ words linking a root word with ‘apocalypse’ such as the Snowpocalypse in the Washington, D.C. area several years ago mentioned by President Obama.  Apocalypse, itself, can be traced to the ancient Greek word apokalyptein meaning to ‘uncover, restore, reveal or disclose’ (hence the name of the final book of the New Testament. The Book of Revelation).  The words apocalypse and apocalyptic are both frequent expressions of the global media especially when used in reference to any cataclysmic event such as the South Asian Tsunami or the inundation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, as GLM then noted.

Terms related to Armageddon are also  portmanteau words that ultimately can be traced to the same source.  The Greek word Harmagedōn and its Hebrew counterpart har məgiddô both refer to the ancient settlement of Megiddo.  Megiddo stood astride important Middle Eastern trade routes and was subsequently the scene of many battles in Biblical times. The word ‘Armageddon’ has come to be associated in the popular mind with any end-of-the-world scenario, such as portrayed in the movie of the same name, starring Bruce Willis, or the ‘Carmageddon’ event in Los Angeles, where one of the main freeways was shut down for a number of hours.

Methodology:  GLM’s Word of the Year rankings are based upon actual word usage throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.83 billion people.  To qualify for these lists, the words, names, and phrases must be found globally, have a minimum of 25,000 citations. and the requisite ‘depth’ and ‘breadth’ of usage.  Depth is here defined as appearing in various forms of media; breadth that they must appear world-over, not limited to a particular profession or social group or geography.

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 275,000 print and electronic global media, as well as new social media sources as they emerge.

 

The Top Phrases of 2012

Rank / Phrase / Comment

  1. Gangnam Style:  A South Korean YouTube video watched 1,000,000,000 times around the world cannot be ignored because it might be considered frivolous.
  2. Global Warming/Climate Change – No. 1 phrases for the first decade of the 21st century; still resonate well into its second decade.
  3. Fiscal Cliff –  Sharp automatic tax increases and spending cuts to U.S. Federal programs that go into effect with the new year — if the Budget Control Act of 2011 is not addressed.
  4. The deficit—the difference between what the government takes in and what it spends—is projected to be reduced by roughly half in 2013
  5. God Particle — The ever-elusive Higgs Boson, the search for which, according to CERN, carries a 1 in 50,000,000 of creating a mini Black Hole that just might swallow the Earth.  Oops.
  6. Rogue nukes —  Iran and North Korea are the focus of attention again.
  7. Near-Earth Asteroid —  Yet another year, another asteroid, another near-miss; this one slipping between the orbits of the Earth and the Moon.
  8. Binders Full of Women — Any unfortunate misstatement or turn of phrase, especially when viewed by some 50 million in a US Presidential Debate becomes immediately meme-worthy.
  9. Arab Spring — Still no Successor term as the Arab Spring morphs into something far more ominous.
  10. 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?
  11. Big Data  – No 1 on the 2012′s  Tech List, ushering in a global transformation in how data is processed, analyzed, and turned into solutions.
  12. Ethical/Sustainable Fashion– A global movement that includes designs from indigenous communities and emerging peoples.
  13. Toxic Politics — See 2012 US Presidential Campaign.
  14. Citius, Altius, Fortius — (Faster, Higher, Stronger) The Olympic Motto, in Latin not Greek, of course.
  15. War Against Women — In the US an economic and social issue; in much of the world an issue of sexual slavery, honor killings, and lack of  basic human rights.

 

The Top Names of 2012

Rank /Name / Comments

  1. Newtown and Malala Yousafzai (tie) — The Connecticut site of a horrific massacre of innocents; and the Pakistani girl shot by terrorists for promoting the right to education for  girls. 
  2. Xi Jinping — Replaces Hu Jintao, under whose administration China has seen a decade of extraordinary growth.
  3. Kate Middleton — With a baby on the way (and the publishing of photos of a most private nature), the Duchess of Cambridge maintains a high profile.
  4. President Obama – Hope and Change retreat further into the history books as Obama survives a brutal campaign.
  5. Mitt Romney — Soon to depart into the wormhole that most losing US Presidential candidates invariably find themselves.  Dukakis? Mondale? Etc.
  6. London Olympics — A triumphal return to the Olympic stage that would have astounded those present at the first Post-War Games in 1948.
  7. Higgs Boson — The long-sought particle theorized to have been present at the creation, is confirmed in CERN experiments.  (And, yes, Dr. Higgs,  has lived to see confirmation of his conjecture.)
  8. Europe (E.U. / Eurogeddon) — United, breaking apart, saving the Euro, abandoning the Euro, with the UK again as an ‘interested onlooker’.  How do you say ‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’ in German.
  9. Felix Baumgartner –  Austrian Felix Baumgartner becomes the first skydiver to break the speed of sound, reaching a maximum …
  10. Senkaku Islands — No one actually cares about these rocky, inhospitable outcroppings; it’s the mineral rights under surround seas of concern here.
  11. John Roberts — Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court at the center of the upholding of the Affordable Healthcare Act (or Obamacare).
  12. Bibi (Benjamin Netanyahu) – The current Prime Minister of Israel.
  13. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — The current president of Iran, a largely ceremonial post.
  14. Christopher Stevens  – Ambassador to Libya, gunned down at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.
  15. Angela Merkel — The chancellor of Germany attempting to hold together the currency union and avoid the Eurogeddon.

 

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:

2011:

Top Words: No. 1 Occupy, No.2 Fracking, No.3 Drone

Top Phrases:  No. 1 Arab Spring, No. 2 Royal Wedding, No.3 Anger and Rage

Top Names:  No. 1 Steve Jobs, No. 2 Osama bin-laden and Seal Team Six, No.3 Fukushima

2010:
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

2009:
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

2008:
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

2007:

Top Words: No. 1 Hybrid (representing all things green), No. 2: Surge
Top Phrase: Climate Change
Top Name: Al Gore

2006:
Top Word: Sustainable
Top Phrase: Stay the Course
Top Name: Dafur

2005:
Top Words: No. 1, Refugee No. 2: Tsunami No. 3: Katrina
Top Phrase: Outside the Mainstream
Top Name: (acts of ) God

2004:
Top Word: Incivility (for inCivil War)
Top Phrase: Red States/Blue States No. 2: Rush to War
Top Name: Dubya/Rove

2003:
Top Word: Embedded
Top Phrase: Shock and Awe, No. 2: Rush to War
Top Name: Saddam Hussein, No. 2 Dubya

2002:

Top Word: Misunderestimate

Top Phrase: Threat Fatigue
Top Name: W (Dubya)

2001:
Top Word: Ground Zero
Top Phrase: ‘Lets Roll’
Top Name: The Heros

2000:
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.

Top Words of 2011, ‘Occupy’ is 2011 Word of the Year

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

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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.

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See the Photo Essay from the Toronto Star

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BBC Magazine: The rich: Exactly what does that mean?

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.2011, l’année Steve Jobs?

(Time Person of the Year?)



Nunberg also selects ‘occupy’ as the 2011 Word of the Year

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The Top Words of 2011

Rank / Word / Comments

1. Occupy – ‘Occupy’ has risen to pre-eminence through Occupy Movement, the occupation of Iraq, and the so-called ‘Occupied Territories’.   (Also named by NPR and Time.)

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).

See the Photo Essay from The Stylist (UK)

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.

10. (The Other) 99 – Referring to the majority of those living in Western Democracies who are left out of the dramatic rise in earnings associated with “the Top 1%”.

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.

8. Bunga Bunga – Re-emerged in the language through ‘bunga-bunga’ parties hosted by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

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

1. Steve Jobs – The citations for Steve Jobs topped those for No. 2 (Osama bin-Laden and Seal Team 6) by more than 30%.

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:

2010:
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

2009:
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

2008:
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

2007:

Top Words: No. 1 Hybrid (representing all things green), No. 2: Surge
Top Phrase: Climate Change
Top Name: Al Gore

2006:
Top Word: Sustainable
Top Phrase: Stay the Course
Top Name: Dafur

2005:
Top Words: No. 1, Refugee No. 2: Tsunami No. 3: Katrina
Top Phrase: Outside the Mainstream
Top Name: (acts of ) God

2004:
Top Word: Incivility (for inCivil War)
Top Phrase: Red States/Blue States No. 2: Rush to War
Top Name: Dubya/Rove

2003:
Top Word: Embedded
Top Phrase: Shock and Awe, No. 2: Rush to War
Top Name: Saddam Hussein, No. 2 Dubya

2002:

Top Word: Misunderestimate

Top Phrase: Threat Fatigue
Top Name: W (Dubya)

2001:
Top Word: Ground Zero
Top Phrase: ‘Lets Roll’
Top Name: The Heros

2000:
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.

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