The Financial Tsunami: An Historical Inflection Point


The US Presidential Election and the Financial Tsunami

 

Seemingly chaotic events reflect normalcy of new reality

 

 

 

Austin, Texas, USA.   October 20, 2008. The worldwide financial tsunami that has captured the attention of the worldwide media (as well as governments, corporations and ordinary citizens), has come to dominate one of the great quadrennial media events of the post-Modern era.  No, we are not referring to the Olympics, most recently held in Beijing, or even football’s World Cup but, rather, the US Presidential elections.

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

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

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

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  It is our outdated techniques, that haven’t kept up with the new reality:  News now emanates at the speed of thought, from tens of thousands or, even, millions of sources.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Top Buzzwords of Presidential Campaign 3 Weeks Out

 

 

Key Findings:

 

 

1.  ’Gender’ trumps ‘Race’

2.  Experience is issue with Obama

3.  Obama Muslim rumors persist

 

Austin, TX, USA October 13, 2008 – In an analysis completed just weeks before the US Presidential Elections, the Global Language Monitor has announced that Change, Climate Change & Bailout stood atop the Top Political Buzzwords List released earlier today.  

It also found that ‘Gender’ now trumps ‘Race’, while questions about ‘experience’ remain an issue for both parties with Obama receiving 2.4 times more citations than Palin.  The analysis also determined that frequently discounted Obama Muslim-related rumors continue to persist, actually moving up on the chart. 

As this election cycle swings into its final phase, once again we are the seeing that the latest headlines are not always indicative of what is actually happening in the global print and electronic media, on the Internet and throughout the Blogosphere.  As in 2004, those paying too much attention to the ’24 Hour News Cycle’ are apt to miss the larger trends that will play a decisive role in the outcome of this election”, said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. 

The complete list of Top Political Buzzwords, with ranking and commentary follow.

  PQI Oct 7, 2008 Comment
Rank    
1 Change  No 1 for the entire election Cycle; good bet for Word of the Year
2 Climate Change Bigger than ‘Bailout’ bigger than ‘Recession’
3 Bailout  Not even on the radar 90 days ago
4 Recession World economy imploding but still not officially a ‘recession’
5 Experience  Obama’s experience questioned 2.4 X more than that of Palin
6 Gasoline Though prices are dropping, still No. 5
7 Subprime How we got into this mess in the first place
8 Obama Muslim Connection A persistent topic in Cyberspace; up 7 spots
9 Gender Up 12 spots; more of an issue than ‘race’
10 Surge One of the Top Words from ‘07 moving up ’ 08 chart
11 Obama smoking Surpirse here; more recognition than one might anticipate
12 “That one” Has spurred the Obama base with ‘I’m for That One’ slogans
13 Lipstick Any talk of Lipstick seems to spur McCain-Palin base
14 Al Qaeda Always lurking beneath the surface
15 Price of oil A weaker issue as price declines
16 Race Falls from No. 4 in earlier survey as gender gains
17 Internet fundraising Loses some luster as it becomes normal (down 8 spots)
18 Raise taxes Causes more concern than ‘Cut taxes’ at No. 24
19 Jeremiah Wright  Dr. Wright remains on the radar though falling from No. 2
20 “Just Words”  Hillary’s comment on Obama still echos through the media
21 Washington Talking Heads Still in the Top Twenty, falling from No. 16.
22 Hockey Mom Causes headlines but not a top issue
23 Nuclear Iran Jumps into the Top 25 as issue persists
24 Palin Swimsuit Thankfully falls behind ‘Nuclear Iran’ as issue
25 Rezko Obama’s relationship with Tony Rezko breaks into Top 25
25 Cut taxes Not so much of a hot button as ‘Raise Taxes’ at No. 17

 

  

   For more on the Myth of the Twenty-four Hours News Cycle

 

 

   The Top Political Buzzwords for the 2006 Midterm Elections included:  Throes, Quagmire,

   Credibility, Global Warming, and Insurgency.  

 

   The Top Political Buzzwords from the 2004 Presidential Campaign included:  Swift Boats,

   Flip Flop, Quagmire, Fahrenheit 911, Misleader, and Liar!

 

 

Change, Climate Change & Bailout Top Political Buzzwords News0024

 

Change, Climate Change & Bailout Top Political Buzzwords with 3 Weeks Remaining

 

 

Key Findings:

 

1.  ’Gender’ trumps ‘Race’

2.  Experience is issue with Obama

3.  Obama Muslim rumors persist

 

Austin, TX, USA October 13, 2008 – In an analysis completed just weeks before the US Presidential Elections, the Global Language Monitor has announced that Change, Climate Change & Bailout stood atop the Top Political Buzzwords List released earlier today.  

It also found that ‘Gender’ now trumps ‘Race’, while questions about ‘experience’ remain an issue for both parties with Obama receiving 2.4 times more citations than Palin.  The analysis also determined that frequently discounted Obama Muslim-related rumors continue to persist, actually moving up on the chart. 

As this election cycle swings into its final phase, once again we are the seeing that the latest headlines are not always indicative of what is actually happening in the global print and electronic media, on the Internet and throughout the Blogosphere.  As in 2004, those paying too much attention to the ’24 Hour News Cycle’ are apt to miss the larger trends that will play a decisive role in the outcome of this election”, said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. 

The complete list of Top Political Buzzwords, with ranking and commentary follow.

  PQI Oct 7, 2008 Comment
Rank    
1 Change  No 1 for the entire election Cycle; good bet for Word of the Year
2 Climate Change Bigger than ‘Bailout’ bigger than ‘Recession’
3 Bailout  Not even on the radar 90 days ago
4 Recession World economy imploding but still not officially a ‘recession’
5 Experience  Obama’s experience questioned 2.4 X more than that of Palin
6 Gasoline Though prices are dropping, still No. 5
7 Subprime How we got into this mess in the first place
8 Obama Muslim Connection A persistent topic in Cyberspace; up 7 spots
9 Gender Up 12 spots; more of an issue than ‘race’
10 Surge One of the Top Words from ‘07 moving up ‘ 08 chart
11 Obama smoking Surpirse here; more recognition than one might anticipate
12 “That one” Has spurred the Obama base with ‘I’m for That One’ slogans
13 Lipstick Any talk of Lipstick seems to spur McCain-Palin base
14 Al Qaeda Always lurking beneath the surface
15 Price of oil A weaker issue as price declines
16 Race Falls from No. 4 in earlier survey as gender gains
17 Internet fundraising Loses some luster as it becomes normal (down 8 spots)
18 Raise taxes Causes more concern than ‘Cut taxes’ at No. 24
19 Jeremiah Wright  Dr. Wright remains on the radar though falling from No. 2
20 “Just Words”  Hillary’s comment on Obama still echos through the media
21 Washington Talking Heads Still in the Top Twenty, falling from No. 16.
22 Hockey Mom Causes headlines but not a top issue
23 Nuclear Iran Jumps into the Top 25 as issue persists
24 Palin Swimsuit Thankfully falls behind ‘Nuclear Iran’ as issue
25 Rezko Obama’s relationship with Tony Rezko breaks into Top 25
25 Cut taxes Not so much of a hot button as ‘Raise Taxes’ at No. 17

 

  

   For more on the Myth of the Twenty-four Hours News Cycle

 

 

   The Top Political Buzzwords for the 2006 Midterm Elections included:  Throes, Quagmire,

   Credibility, Global Warming, and Insurgency.  

 

   The Top Political Buzzwords from the 2004 Presidential Campaign included:  Swift Boats,

   Flip Flop, Quagmire, Fahrenheit 911, Misleader, and Liar!

 

 

Final Debate Analysis: Sharp Contrast to Earlier Debates Analysis

 

 

 

       Listen to the Interview on WNYC/PRI

 

 

 

 

 

The Final Debate: 

Obama & McCain Differ Sharply

 

Obama Doubles Use of Passive Voice Over McCain

Memorable quotes: ‘Joe the Plumber’; ‘I am not President Bush’

Austin, Texas, USA.   October 16, 2008.  In a linguistic analysis of the final Presidential Debate between Barack Obama and John McCain, the Global Language Monitor has found that in sharp contrast to prior debates, Obama’s use of the passive voice doubled that of McCain (and was significantly higher than he typically uses).  The use of the passive voice is considered significant in political speech because audiences generally respond better to active voice, which they tend to view asmore direct.  On a grade-level basis, Obama came in at 9.3 with McCain scoring grade level, while McCain came in at 7.4, a difference of nearly two grade levels.  The debate took place at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York.  

 

The statistical breakdown follows.  

 

  Obama McCain Difference
       
Words 7,146 6,562 584
Words/Sentence 19.4 15.2 4.2
Sentences/Paragraph 2.0 2.1 5%
Characters/Word
4.4
4.4
0%
Passive Voice (%)
6%
3%
100%
Reading Ease
62.6
68.6
6
Grade level
9.3
7.4
1.9

 

 

 

Using industry-standard tools and techniques, GLM ranks the candidates’ speech on a number of levels from grade-reading level, the use of the passive voice, a reading ease score (the higher, the easiest to understand), the number of words per sentence, the number of characters per word, among others.   

“Again, word choice and usage speaks volumes,” said Paul JJ Payack, GLM’s President & Chief Word Analyst. “Obama came in at a higher grade level than his previous efforts, but McCain was somewhat easier to understand.  Obama’s significantly higher use of the passive voice combined with his frequent use of the word ‘I’ perhaps indicated an impatience with his opponent  last witnessed in his debates with Hillary Clinton.” 

 

Read:   L’Histoire’s    La Langue des Campagnes

 

Obama used the personal pronoun, ‘I’ about 158 times in the debate, while McCain used the word some 119 times.   Memorable phrases include more than a dozen references to ‘Joe the Plumber,’ one Joe Wurzelbacher of Holland, Ohio, and John McCain’s ‘I am not President Bush’ retort to Sen. Obama’s attempt to link his policies to those of the current president. 

 

 

  Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times

 

 

For comparison purposes, here are the results last week’s Town-hall style debate. That debate was notable in the fact that the questions asked by the audience outdistanced both Obama and McCain in the grade-level ranking category.  Perhaps, the most memorable phrase from that debate is perhaps ‘’That one!” the term McCain used to refer to Obama.  “That One” has already joined GLM’s analysis of the Top Political Buzzwords of the 2008 Campaign.   

 

  Obama McCain Difference
       
Words 7,146 6,562 584
Words/Sentence 19.4 15.2 4.2
Sentences/Paragraph 2.0 2.1 5%
Characters/Word 4.4 4.4 0%
Passive Voice (%) 6% 3% 100%
Reading Ease 62.6 68.6 6
Grade level 9.3 7.4 1.9

 

  

See also:  Obama as a Top Word of 2008

See also:  ObamaSpeak

See also:  Obama Victory Speach Ranked

See also:  Obama Acceptance at 9th Grade Level

 

 

A Historical Inflection Point


The US Presidential Election and the Financial Tsunami

Seemingly chaotic events reflect normalcy of new reality

A Historical Inflection Point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dictionaries

Is Merriam-Webster its own worst frenemy?

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

‘New’ words average age — 29 years

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

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

New Word or Term First Usage

Carbon footprint 1999

Flash mob 1977

Green-collar 1990

Locavore 2005

Memory foam 1987

Missalette 1977

Reggaeton 2002

Sock puppet 1959

Waterboarding 2004

Webisode 1997

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

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

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

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

.

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

demonstrates the obsolescence of old-style dictionaries

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Paul JJ Payack

2008 Presidential Election, Real-time Analysis

Real-time (Historical) Analysis

Complete Coverage of the 2008 Elections

 

Nicholas D. Kristof: Obama and the war on brains

 

Obama “Yes, We Can” Speech Ranked With “I have a Dream,” “Tear Down this Wall,” and JFK Inaugural

AUSTIN, TX,  November 7, 2008 – In an analysis completed earlier today, the Global Language Monitor has found that Barak Obama’s “Yes, We Can” speech delivered Tuesday night in Chicago’s Grant Park ranked favorably in tone, tenor and rhetorical flourishes with memorable political addresses of the recent past including Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech, “Tear Down his Wall,” by Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address. GLM has been tracking the language used in the debates and speeches of the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates throughout the bruising 2008 campaign. In nearly every category, from grade level to the use of passive voice, even the average numbers of letters in the words he chose, Obama’s Victory Speech was very similar in construction to the speeches of King, Reagan, and Kennedy.

Obama Speech a Winner

“As is appropriate for a forward-looking message of hope and reconciliation, words of change and hope, as well as future-related constructions dominated the address,” said Paul JJ Payack President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “Evidently, Obama is at his best at connecting with people at the 7th to 8th grade range, communicating directly to his audience using simple yet powerful rhetorical devices, such as the repetition of the cadenced phrase ‘Yes, we can’, which built to a powerful conclusion.”

Obama’s Victory Speech also was similar in construction to his 2004 Democratic Convention address, which first brought him to widespread national attention.

The statistical breakdown follows.

Obama Victory Speech Obama 2004 Convention
Words 2049 2238
Sentences/Paragraph 1.8 2
Words/Sentence 18.9 20.0
Characters/Word 4.2 4.3
Reading Ease 72.4 67.5
Passive 11% 8%
Grade Level 7.4 8.3

For a future-oriented message of hope and vision, the passive voice was used frequently but effectively. Examples include: “There will be setbacks and false starts. It was also noted that Obama spoke in the authoritative voice of the future Commander-in-Chief with such phrasings as “To those who would tear the world down – We will defeat you. Some commentators noticed the absence of the collapse of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in the 2001 terrorist attacks from Obama’s catalog of significant events of last 106 years. Historical comparisons follow.

Kennedy Inaugural Address 10.8
Reagan ‘Tear Down This Wall” 9.8
Lincoln “Gettysburg Address” 9.1
Martin Luther King: ”I have a dream” 8.8
Obama 2004 Democrat Convention 8.3
Obama Victory Speech “Yes, we can” 7.4

Change’, ‘Cataclysmic Events,’ and ‘Global Financial Tsunami’ Dominate Concerns of the American Electorate on Nov. 4

AUSTIN, TX, November 4, 2008 – In an analysis completed just hours before voting began for the 2008 the USPresidential Elections, Austin, Texas-based Global Language Monitor has found that ‘Change’, ‘‘Cataclysmic Events,’ and ‘Global Financial Tsunami’ related words and phrases dominate the Top Ten Concerns of the American Electorate on Nov. 4, 2008.

The results are based on an on-going 18-month analysis of the political language and buzzwords used throughout the presidential since before the primaries began.  GLM’s uses its PQI Index, a proprietary algorithm that scours the global print and electronic media, the Internet, and blogosphere for ‘hot’ political buzzwords and then ranks them according to year-over-year change, acceleration, and directional momentum. Political buzzwords are terms or phrases that become loaded with emotional freight beyond the normal meaning of the word.

Top Ten Concerns of the American Electorate on November 4, 2008.

  1. Change is key. Change favors Obama over McCain 3:2.
  2. Cataclysmic events, global warming and climate change rank higher than all other issues except change.
  3. The Global Financial Tsunami and related terms permeate the Election and are that persistent low-humming heard in the background.
  4. Experience counts. Experience favors McCain over Obama 4:3.
  5. Concerns persist about Obama’s experience, background, and the past and current associations.
  6. Gender is an ongoing issue: it began with Hillary and continues with Palin though it is disguised in all sorts of well-meaning platitudes.
  7. For many in this campaign, gender actually trumps race.
  8. For all the concern about race, it actually seems to be having a positive effect on the Obama campaign, in its an ongoing, just beneath the surface dialogue, with millions (both black and white) voting for Obama precisely BECAUSE he is a black man. This is viewed as separating us (and in some sense liberating us) from a long, painful history.
  9. Working Class Whites are used as a code word for whites who are working class. No other moniker, such as Reagan Democrats or Soccer Moms has caught on in this election cycle.
  10. Obama, to his great credit, is no longer perceived as ‘aloof’.

What’s the advantage of the PQI over the Polls?

According to Paul JJ Payack, president and chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor:

The PQI is, perhaps, the ultimate ‘It is what it is’ measurement of consumer (and in this case Political) sentiment. The PQI simply measures the occurrence of certain words or phrases in the print and electronic media (traditional or otherwise), on the Internet, and across the Blogosphere. It is by its very nature non-biased. When we take a statistical snapshot for the PQI there is no adjustment for ‘underrepresented’ groups, there are no assumptions about probability of turnout, the proportions of newly registered voters, traditional models, or expanded modularities. Rather we take our measurements, check for the rate of positive or negative change in the appearance of a searched word or phrase (what we call velocity and) and publish our results. In other words, it is what it is. Using this methodology, GLM was the only media analytics organization that foresaw the ’04 electorate voting with their moral compasses rather than their pocketbooks.”

The Top Political Buzzwords for the 2006 Midterm Elections included:  Throes, Quagmire, Credibility, Global Warming, and Insurgency; the Top Political Buzzwords from the 2004 Campaign included:  Swift Boats, Flip Flop, Quagmire, Fahrenheit 911, Misleader, and Liar!

Top 10 Things Political Buzzwords Tell Us About the Vote

AUSTIN, TX, November 3, 2008 – In an analysis completed just 48 hours before the US Presidential Elections theGlobal Language Monitor has announced the final installment of the Top Political Buzzwords of the 2008 Presidential Campaign. GLM, has been tracking the buzzwords in this election cycle for some eighteen months. Political buzzwords are terms or phrases that become loaded with emotional freight beyond the normal meaning of the word. For example, the word surge has been in the English-language vocabulary since time immemorial.  However, in its new context as an Iraq War strategy, it inspires a set of emotions in many people far beyond the norm.

According to Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of Global Language Monitor:

  1. The electorate appears to be more advanced in its thinking than either party (or platform). Taken as a whole their concerns center upon uncontrollable, cataclysmic events such as the global financial meltdown and climate change (Nos. 1 and 2), while raising taxes (No. 22) or cutting taxes (No. 27) are lesser (though still important) concerns.
  2. The phrase ‘Financial Meltdown’ has broken into the Top 20, jumping some 2600% in usage over the last month.
  3. Change is the topmost concern. Though change from what to what remains a good question. ‘Change’ is,without question the top word of this campaign. Both candidates are benefitting from the mantra; however Obama holds a 3:2 edge over McCain in this regard.
  4. The second-most discussed term of the campaign barely surfaces in most media reports, and this is the combination of ‘Climate Change’ and/or ‘Global Warming’.
  5. Experience (No. 5) counts. A lot. Especially, if that experience can serve as a guide through the current series of cataclysmic events. McCain edges Obama 4:3 in the experience category. But Obama is given significant credit as a quick (and judicious) study.
  6. Everyone is talking about race (No. 16) except, apparently, the electorate. It is a Top Twenty issue, but it’s nestled between Joe the Plumber and Obama’s smoking.
  7. Iraq is now a non-issue. No. 8, Surge,and its apparent success has settled the argument, so it is no longer a question of victory or defeat. Even Al Qaeda has lost its grip on the electorate, falling some 11 spots in two weeks.
  8. Palin (Nos 14 and 21) is a ‘go-to’ subject for the media and campaigns alike, with both sides thinking they gain tremendous leverage in her disparagement or apotheosis.
  9. Tony Rezko (No. 23), Acorn (No. 24) and Jeremiah Wright (No. 26) are indeed issues, but are viewed as minor, settled or both for the Obama campaign.
  10. The word, aloof, as related to Obama is no longer on the list.  At the end of the Primary season in June, it was No 14 and a major concern of the Obama campaign.  Obama has apparently overcome this sense of aloofness.

The ranking of Top Election Buzzwords of the 2008 Presidential Campaign and commentary follow.

Presidential Campaign PQI 11.2.08 Comment
Rank
1 Change Obama has a 3:2 Edge over McCain with Change
2 Climate Change Global warming within 1/2 of 1% for the overall lead
3 Gasoline Up 2 this week as prices fall
4 Recession Does a global financial meltdown count as a recession?
5 Experience Down 2; McCain has 4:3 Edge Here
6 Obama Muslim A continued presence in Cyberspace
7 Subprime How we got into this mess in the first place
8 Surge One of the Top Words from ’07 now taking a victory lap
9 “That one” Has spurred the Obama base with ‘I’m for That One’ slogans
10 “Just Words” Oh Hillary, what hath thou wrought?
11 Gender Up dramatically since fall campaign though down for week
12 Working Class Whites Still the object of much affection AND derision
13 Price of oil More discussion as price declines; up 5
14 Palin Swimsuit On SNL Alec Baldwin claimed Balin’s ‘way hotter in person’
15 Joe the Plumber Now making appearances with McCain; up 5
16 Racism (election) Belies all the media buzz; now in top 20
17 Obama smoking Down 5 but still in Top Twenty
18 Financial meltdown Now buzzworthy, indeed.
19 Wall Street Bailout As reality of global financial meltdown sets in, down 6
20 Internet fundraising Hangs in there as a hot buzzword at 20
21 Lipstick Drops dramatically over the last survey; down 10
22 Raise taxes Raise Taxes No 22; cut taxes No. 27.  Ho Hum.
23 Rezko Obama’s relationship with Tony Rezko gains one
24 Acorn Voter Reg Loses a couple as interest apparently wanes
25 Al Qaeda election Lurking beneath the surface but falls out of Top Twenty
26 Jeremiah Wright Dr. Wright remains on the radar though falling five more spots
27 Cut taxes Raise Taxes No 22; cut taxes No. 27.  Ho Hum.
28 Hockey Mom Causes headlines but not a top issue
29 Nuclear Iran Drops one more spot since last survey
30 Wash Talking Heads Not a good week for the Cognoscenti; down 15

The ranking is determined by GLM’s PQI Index, a proprietary algorithm that scours the global print and electronic media, the Internet, and blogosphere for ‘hot’ political buzzwords and then ranks them according to year-over-year change, acceleration and directional momentum.  Using this methodology, GLM was the only media analytics organization that foresaw the ’04 electorate voting with their moral compasses rather than their pocketbooks.

The Top Political Buzzwords for the 2006 Midterm Elections included:  Throes, Quagmire, Credibility, Global Warming, and Insurgency; the Top Political Buzzwords from the 2004 Campaign included:  Swift Boats, Flip Flop, Quagmire, Fahrenheit 911, Misleader, and Liar!

Listen to the Interview on WNYC/PRI

 

The Final Debate:  Obama & McCain Differ Sharply

Obama Doubles Use of Passive Voice Over McCain

Memorable quotes: ‘Joe the Plumber’; ‘I am not President Bush’

AUSTIN, TX,  October 16, 2008.  In a linguistic analysis of the final Presidential Debate between Barack Obama and John McCain, the Global Language Monitor has found that in sharp contrast to prior debates, Obama’s use of the passive voice doubled that of McCain (and was significantly higher than he typically uses).  The use of the passive voice is considered significant in political speech because audiences generally respond better to active voice, which they tend to view asmore direct.  On a grade-level basis, Obama came in at 9.3 with McCain scoring grade level, while McCain came in at 7.4, a difference of nearly two grade levels.  The debate took place at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York.   The statistical breakdown follows.

Obama McCain Difference
Words 7,146 6,562 584
Words/Sentence 19.4 15.2 4.2
Sentences/Paragraph 2.0 2.1 5%
Characters/Word 4.4 4.4 0%
Passive Voice (%) 6% 3% 100%
Reading Ease 62.6 68.6 6
Grade level 9.3 7.4 1.9

Using industry-standard tools and techniques, GLM ranks the candidates’ speech on a number of levels from grade-reading level, the use of the passive voice, a reading ease score (the higher, the easiest to understand), the number of words per sentence, the number of characters per word, among others.

“Again, word choice and usage speaks volumes,” said Paul JJ Payack, GLM’s President & Chief Word Analyst. “Obama came in at a higher grade level than his previous efforts, but McCain was somewhat easier to understand.  Obama’s significantly higher use of the passive voice combined with his frequent use of the word ‘I’ perhaps indicated an impatience with his opponent  last witnessed in his debates with Hillary Clinton.”

Read:   L’Histoire’s    La Langue des Campagnes

Obama used the personal pronoun, ‘I’ about 158 times in the debate, while McCain used the word some 119 times.

Memorable phrases include more than a dozen references to ‘Joe the Plumber,’ one Joe Wurzelbacher of Holland, Ohio, and John McCain’s ‘I am not President Bush’ retort to Sen. Obama’s attempt to link his policies to those of the current president.

Obama the Intellectual
Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times

 

For comparison purposes, here is the results last week’s Town-hall style debate. That debate was notable in the fact that the questions asked by the audience outdistanced both Obama and McCain in the grade-level ranking category.  Perhaps, the most memorable phrase from that debate is perhaps ‘’That one!” the term McCain used to refer to Obama.  “That One” has already joined GLM’s analysis of the Top Political Buzzwords of the 2008 Campaign.

Obama McCain Difference
Words 7,146 6,562 584
Words/Sentence 19.4 15.2 4.2
Sentences/Paragraph 2.0 2.1 5%
Characters/Word 4.4 4.4 0%
Passive Voice (%) 6% 3% 100%
Reading Ease 62.6 68.6 6
Grade level 9.3 7.4 1.9

Top Buzzwords of Presidential Campaign: Two Weeks Out

Bailout falls dramatically; Experience and Gender Rise
‘Change’ and ’Global Warming/Climate Change’ in statistical tie for top

.

AUSTIN, TX, October 21, 2008 – In an analysis completed just two weeks before the US Presidential Elections the Global Language Monitor has announced that Change and Climate Change remain in a statistical tie for top spot in its list of Political Buzzwords of the 2008 Presidential Campaign, with Bailout falling dramatically to No. 13.

“In the Change ranking, Obama outdistanced McCain by a 3:2 ratio, while in the No. 2 Experience ranking, McCain held a 3:2 edge over Obama,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “Joe the Plumber and ACORN voter registration references broke into the Top 25, at No. 19 and No. 22, respectively. In a related finding, Gender (No. 10) continued to rise as Race (No. 20) continued to fall, raising the question if gender is the new race?”

Political buzzwords are terms or phrases that become loaded with emotional freight beyond the normal meaning of the word.  For example, the word surge has been in the English-language vocabulary since time immemorial.  However, in its new context as an Iraq War strategy, it inspires a set of emotions in many people far beyond the norm. The rank of Top Election Buzzwords, past rank, and commentary follow.

  1. Change (1) — Obama has a 3:2 edge over McCain with Change
  2. Climate Change (2) — Global warming within 1/2 of 1% for the overall lead
  3. Experience (5) — McCain has 3:2 edge over Obama with Experience
  4. Recession (4) — World economy imploding but still not officially a ‘recession’
  5. Gasoline (6) — Up one as the price dropsa1
  6. Obama Muslim Connection (8) — A persistent topic in Cyberspace; up 2
  7. Subprime (7) — How we got into this mess in the first place
  8. Surge (10) — One of the Top Words from ‘07 moving up ‘ 08 chart
  9. “That one” (12) – The remark has spurred the Obama base: ‘I’m for That One’
  10. Gender (9) – Is ‘gender’ the new ‘race’?
  11. Lipstick (13) — Any talk of Lipstick seems to spur McCain-Palin base
  12. Obama smoking (11) – Surprise here; continues to draw interest
  13. Bailout (3) – Bailout, as a word, dramatically slipping as reality of the entire debacle sets in
  14. “Just Words” (20) — Hillary’s comment on Obama still echoes through the media
  15. Washington Talking Heads (21) – Up six this past week alone
  16. Palin Swimsuit (24) – Fueled by Alec Baldwin on SNL: Balin’s ‘way hotter in person’
  17. Al Qaeda (14) — Always lurking beneath the surface
  18. Price of oil (15) – Weakens as price declines
  19. Joe the Plumber (NR) – Breaks into Top 25 in debut
  20. Race (16) – Continues to drop in media buzz
  21. Jeremiah Wright (19) — Dr. Wright remains on the radar, down from No.2 at start
  22. Acorn Voter Registration (NR) – Debuts in Top 25; dramatic move over last week
  23. Internet fundraising (17) — Loses luster as story; down 6 more spots
  24. Rezko (25) — Obama’s relationship with Tony Rezko breaks into Top 25
  25. Raise taxes (18) Raise Taxes No 25; cut taxes No. 27: Are you Listening

Others

  1. Hockey Mom (22) – Loses a bit of steam
  2. Cut taxes (26) Both ‘cut’ and ‘raise’ down this week, again
  3. Nuclear Iran (23) Peaked out at No. 18

The ranking is determined by GLM’s PQI Index, a proprietary algorithm that scours the global print and electronic media, the Internet, and blogosphere for ‘hot’ political buzzwords and then ranks them according to year-over-year change, acceleration and directional momentum.  Using this methodology, GLM was the only media analytics organization that foresaw the ’04 electorate voting with their moral compasses rather than their pocketbooks.

The Top Political Buzzwords for the 2006 Midterm Elections included:  Throes, Quagmire, Credibility, Global Warming, and Insurgency; the Top Political Buzzwords from the 2004 Campaign included:  Swift Boats, Flip Flop, Quagmire, Fahrenheit 911, Misleader, and Liar!

The US Presidential Election and the Financial Tsunami

Seemingly chaotic events reflect normalcy of new reality

A Historical Inflection Point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the preceding five years, The Global Language Monitor has attempted to clarify the course (and future course) of human events as documented in the English language. The tools at our disposal have sometimes allowed us to peer into events and trends that become, otherwise, obscured, by the ‘noise’ of the Twenty-four Hour News Cycle. Our goal was, and continues to be, to extricate (and explicate upon) the true currents underpinning the events we call news, and to better understand what they mean and how they are perceived with the new media reality in mind. For example, back in the days preceding the 2004 Presidential election cycle, GLM discovered the fact that once ideas, words and phrases were launched into the vast, uncharted, oceanic Internet, they do not, indeed, die out after twenty-four hours but, rather, travel in deep, powerful currents and waves (not unlike those of a tsunami) that only grow stronger as they make their ways to distant shores.

In this new reality, tsunami-like ideas pass through vast seas of information of the Internet, nearly undetected and often unmeasured, until they crash upon our shorelines, where their full power (and possibly fury) is unleashed. The fact that we only entertain them for 24 hours before they are dispatched into the archives of what is considered ‘past’ or ‘passed’ and readily discarded, is beyond the point. We often hear that ‘we’ve never seen anything like this’ before. Of course not. Think back a few hundred years to other information revolutions, such as that introduced along with mechanical type. What do you think the fortunate few thought when they first laid their eyes upon the works of Aristotle, the Bible, or the Arabic translations of Euclid? No one had ever seen anything like that before! Indeed. And astonishment will only become more so as the future unfolds.

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

Vice Presidential Debate Linguistic Analysis:

Palin at 10th Grade-level; Biden at 8th Grade-level
Palin’s use of passive voice highest of the 2008 Debates

 

AUSTIN, TX,  October 3, 2008. The first and only vice presidential debate of the 2008 Campaign has resulted in Governor Sarah Palin, the republican nominee for vice president speaking at a 10th-grade level, with Senator Joe Biden coming in at an 8th-grade level.  Also noteworthy was the fact that Gov. Palin’s use of passive voice was the highest (at 8%) of the 2008 Presidential and Vice Presidential debates thus far.  The analysis was performed by The Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com), the Austin, Texas-based media analytics and analysis company.

GLM ranks the candidates’ speech on a number of levels from grade-reading level, the use of the passive voice, ‘a readability’ score (the closer to one hundred the easiest to understand, the number of words per sentence, even the number of characters per word.

The statistical breakdown follows.

Vice Presidential Debate
Biden Palin Comment
Grade Level 7.8 9.5 Palin raises a few eyebrows here.
No. of Words 5,492 5235 This is a surprise; shows tremendous restraint on the normally loquacious Biden. Obama used 20 more words per minute than McCain.
Sentences/Paragraph 2.7 2.6 A statistical tie.
Words/Sentence 15.8 19.9 Palin even outdistances professorial Obama on this one; Obama scored 17.4
Characters/Word 4.4 4.4 Everyone has apparently learned that shorter words are easier to understand (rather than monosyllabic words facilitate comprehension).
Passive Voice 5% 8% Passive voice can be used to deflect responsibility; Biden used active voice when referring to Cheney and Bush; Palin countered with passive deflections.
Ease of Reading 66.7 62.4 100 is the easiest to read (or hear).

Notes:  The excessive use of passive voice can be used to obscure responsibility since there is no ‘doer of the action’.  For example, ‘Taxes will be raised’ is a passive construction, while ‘I will raise (or lower) taxes’ is an active construction.  Five percent is considered average; low for a politician.

By way of comparison, the ranking by grade-levels for historical debates follow.

Historical Contrasts Grade level
Lincoln in Lincoln-Douglas Debates 11.2
Joseph Lieberman 9.9
Ronald Reagan 9.8
John F. Kennedy 9.6
Sarah Palin 9.5
Richard Nixon 9.1
Dick Cheney 9.1
Michael Dukakis 8.9
Bill Clinton 8.5
Al Gore 8.4
George W. Bush 7.1
George H.W. Bush 6.6
Ross Perot 6.3

The number of words is considered approximate, since transcripts vary.

The methodology employed is a modified Flesch-Kincaid formulation.

The First Presidential Debate:

A ‘Linguistic Dead Heat’ — with One Exception

In true professorial fashion, Obama averages some 20 more words per minute

AUSTIN, TX,  September 28, 2008. The first presidential debate of the 2008 Campaign resulted in a ‘Linguistic Dead Heat’ according to an analysis performed by The Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com).  In nearly every category, from grade level to the use of passive voice, even the average numbers of letters in the words they chose, the candidates remained within the statistical margin of error with one major exception.  In the Number of Words category that the candidates used to convey their messages, Obama, in true professorial style, outdistanced McCain by some thousand words, which breaks down to an average of about 20 more words per minute.

“As in the famous Harvard-Yale game back in 1968, Harvard declared a victory after securing a come-from-behind 29-29 tie.   In the same manner, both sides of the debate have declared victory in an essential deadlocked outcome,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM. “Look at the debate as a football game.  Both teams effectively moved the ball.  However, the scoring was low, and the quarterbacks performed as expected, with McCain completing some excellently thrown passes only to have others blocked by Obama.  Obama’s ground game was more impressive, churning out the yards — but he had difficulty getting the ball over the goal line.”

The statistical breakdown follows.

McCain Obama
Sentences per paragraph 2.2 2.1
Words per sentence 15.9 17.4
Characters per word 4.4 4.3
Passive voice 5% 5%
Ease of Reading (100 Top) 63.7 66.8
Grade Level 8.3 8.2
Number of words (approximate) 7,150 8,068

Notes:  The excessive use of passive voice can be used to obscure responsibility since there is no ‘doer of the action’.  For example, ‘Taxes will be raised’ is a passive construction, while ‘I will raise (or lower) taxes’ is an active construction.  Five percent is considered low.

What are they saying in China?

 

McCain’s Speech Comes in at the Third Grade Level: Most Direct of all Speakers at Either Convention

Palin & Obama Speech Score Nearly Identical

AUSTIN, TX, . September 7, 2008. (Updated)  In an exclusive analysis of the speeches made at the recently concluded Political Conventions, the Global Language Monitor found that John McCain spoke at a third-grade reading level, meaning that his speech was the easiest to comprehend of any delivered at either convention. GLM also found that McCain scored the lowest of all convention speakers in use of the passive voice, an indication of ‘direct’ talk. Higher use of the passive voice is often viewed as an indicator of ‘indirect’ and more easily confused speech because the doer of the action is obscured: ‘Taxes will be raised’ rather than ‘I will raise taxes’.

In another finding, GLM found that both Sarah Palin’s and Barack Obama’s widely viewed (38 and 37 million viewers respectively), and much-acclaimed acceptance speeches were closely similar, delivered in language that reflected a ninth grade (9.2 and 9.3 respectively) ‘reading level’.

The basic language evaluation stats are shown below.

John McCain Sarah Palin Barack Obama
3.7 9.2 9.3 Grade Level
1.9 1.3 1.5 Sentences / Paragraph
4.4 4.4 4.4 Letters / Word
79.1 63.8 64.4 Reading Ease (100 is easiest)
6.4 19.5 22.1 Words / Sentence
2% 8% 5% Passive Sentences

It is widely believed that shorter sentences, words and paragraphs are easier to comprehend.

The analysis was performed by the Global Language Monitor, the media analysis, and analytics agency.

GLM used a modified Flesch-Kincaid formula for its analysis, which measures factors such as the number of words in a sentence, the number of letters in a word, the percentage of sentences in passive voice, and other indicators of making things easier to read and, hence, understand.

This release comes in at the second year of college level (14+). 

Warning: do not incorporate these words into presidential addresses.

admin2008 Presidential Election, Barack Obama, PQI, Presidential Elections

 

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2008 Presidential Election, Real-time (Historical) Analysis

 

Complete Coverage of the 2008 Elections

 Nicholas D. Kristof: Obama and the war on brains

Obama’s “Yes, We Can” Speech Ranked with “I have a Dream,”

“Tear Down this Wall,” and JFK Inaugural

 

AUSTIN, TX,  November 7, 2008 – In an analysis completed earlier today, the Global Language Monitor has found that Barack Obama’s “Yes, We Can” speech delivered Tuesday night in Chicago’s Grant Park ranked favorably in tone, tenor and rhetorical flourishes with memorable political addresses of the recent past including Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech, “Tear Down his Wall,” by Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address. GLM has been tracking the language used in the debates and speeches of the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates throughout the bruising 2008 campaign. In nearly every category, from grade level to the use of passive voice, even the average numbers of letters in the words he chose, Obama’s Victory Speech was very similar in construction to the speeches of King, Reagan, and Kennedy.

Obama Speech a Winner

“Complete Coverage of the for a forward-looking message of hope and reconciliation, words of change and hope, as well as future-related constructions dominated the address,” said Paul JJ Payack President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “Evidently, Obama is at his best at connecting with people at the 7th to 8th-grade range, communicating directly to his audience using simple yet powerful rhetorical devices, such as the repetition of the cadenced phrase ‘Yes, we can’, which built to a powerful conclusion.”

Obama’s Victory Speech also was similar in construction to his 2004 Democratic Convention address, which first brought him to widespread national attention.

The statistical breakdown follows.

Obama Victory Speech Obama 2004 Convention
Words 2049 2238
Sentences/Paragraph 1.8 2
Words/Sentence 18.9 20.0
Characters/Word 4.2 4.3
Reading Ease 72.4 67.5
Passive 11% 8%
Grade Level 7.4 8.3

For a future-oriented message of hope and vision, the passive voice was used frequently but effectively. Examples include: “There will be setbacks and false starts. It was also noted that Obama spoke in the authoritative voice of the future Commander-in-Chief with such phrasings as “To those who would tear the world down – We will defeat you.

Some commentators noticed the absence of the collapse of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in the 2001 terrorist attacks from Obama’s catalog of significant events of last 106 years.

Historical comparisons follow.

Kennedy Inaugural Address 10.8
Reagan ‘Tear Down This Wall” 9.8
Lincoln “Gettysburg Address” 9.1
Martin Luther King: ”I have a dream” 8.8
Obama 2004 Democrat Convention 8.3
Obama Victory Speech “Yes, we can” 7.4

Change’, ‘Cataclysmic Events,’ and ‘Global Financial Tsunami’

Dominate Concerns of the American Electorate on Nov. 4

AUSTIN, TX, November 4, 2008 – In an analysis completed just hours before voting began for the 2008 the USPresidential Elections, Austin, Texas-based Global Language Monitor has found that ‘Change’, ‘‘Cataclysmic Events,’ and ‘Global Financial Tsunami’ related words and phrases dominate the Top Ten Concerns of the American Electorate on Nov. 4, 2008.

The results are based on an on-going 18-month analysis of the political language and buzzwords used throughout the presidential since before the primaries began.  GLM’s uses its PQI Index, a proprietary algorithm that scours the global print and electronic media, the Internet, and blogosphere for ‘hot’ political buzzwords and then ranks them according to year-over-year change, acceleration, and directional momentum. Political buzzwords are terms or phrases that become loaded with emotional freight beyond the normal meaning of the word.

Top Ten Concerns of the American Electorate on November 4, 2008.

1. Change is key. Change favors Obama over McCain 3:2.

2. Cataclysmic events, global warming and climate change rank higher than all other issues except change.

3. The Global Financial Tsunami and related terms permeate the Election and are that persistent low-humming heard in the background.

4. Experience counts. Experience favors McCain over Obama 4:3.

5. Concerns persist about Obama’s experience, background, and the past and current associations.

6. Gender is an ongoing issue: it began with Hillary and continues with Palin though it is disguised in all sorts of well-meaning platitudes.

7. For many in this campaign, gender actually trumps race.

8. For all the concern about race, it actually seems to be having a positive effect on the Obama campaign, in its an ongoing, just beneath the surface dialogue, with millions (both black and white) voting for Obama precisely BECAUSE he is a black man. This is viewed as separating us (and in some sense liberating us) from a long, painful history.

9. Working Class Whites are used as a code word for whites who are working class. No other moniker, such as Reagan Democrats or Soccer Moms has caught on in this election cycle.

10.  Obama, to his great credit, is no longer perceived as ‘aloof’.

What’s the advantage of the PQI over the Polls?

According to Paul JJ Payack, president and chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor:

The PQI is, perhaps, the ultimate ‘It is what it is’ measurement of consumer (and in this case Political) sentiment. The PQI simply measures the occurrence of certain words or phrases in the print and electronic media (traditional or otherwise), on the Internet, and across the Blogosphere. It is by its very nature non-biased. When we take a statistical snapshot for the PQI there is no adjustment for ‘underrepresented’ groups, there are no assumptions about probability of turnout, the proportions of newly registered voters, traditional models, or expanded modularities. Rather we take our measurements, check for the rate of positive or negative change in the appearance of a searched word or phrase (what we call velocity and) and publish our results. In other words, it is what it is. Using this methodology, GLM was the only media analytics organization that foresaw the ’04 electorate voting with their moral compasses rather than their pocketbooks.”

The Top Political Buzzwords for the 2006 Midterm Elections included:  Throes, Quagmire, Credibility, Global Warming, and Insurgency; the Top Political Buzzwords from the 2004 Campaign included:  Swift Boats, Flip Flop, Quagmire, Fahrenheit 911, Misleader, and Liar!

Top 10 Things Political Buzzwords Tell Us About the Vote

AUSTIN, TXNovember 3, 2008 – In an analysis completed just 48 hours before the US Presidential Elections theGlobal Language Monitor has announced the final installment of the Top Political Buzzwords of the 2008 Presidential Campaign. GLM, has been tracking the buzzwords in this election cycle for some eighteen months. Political buzzwords are terms or phrases that become loaded with emotional freight beyond the normal meaning of the word. For example, the word surge has been in the English-language vocabulary since time immemorial.  However, in its new context as an Iraq War strategy, it inspires a set of emotions in many people far beyond the norm.

According to Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of Global Language Monitor:

  1. The electorate appears to be more advanced in its thinking than either party (or platform). Taken as a whole their concerns center upon uncontrollable, cataclysmic events such as the global financial meltdown and climate change (Nos. 1 and 2), while raising taxes (No. 22) or cutting taxes (No. 27) are lesser (though still important) concerns.
  2. The phrase ‘Financial Meltdown’ has broken into the Top 20, jumping some 2600% in usage over the last month.
  3. Change is the topmost concern. Though change from what to what remains a good question. ‘Change’ is,without question the top word of this campaign. Both candidates are benefitting from the mantra; however Obama holds a 3:2 edge over McCain in this regard.
  4. The second-most discussed term of the campaign barely surfaces in most media reports, and this is the combination of ‘Climate Change’ and/or ‘Global Warming’.
  5. Experience (No. 5) counts. A lot. Especially, if that experience can serve as a guide through the current series of cataclysmic events. McCain edges Obama 4:3 in the experience category. But Obama is given significant credit as a quick (and judicious) study.
  6. Everyone is talking about race (No. 16) except, apparently, the electorate. It is a Top Twenty issue, but it’s nestled between Joe the Plumber and Obama’s smoking.
  7. Iraq is now a non-issue. No. 8, Surge,and its apparent success has settled the argument, so it is no longer a question of victory or defeat. Even Al Qaeda has lost its grip on the electorate, falling some 11 spots in two weeks.
  8. Palin (Nos 14 and 21) is a ‘go-to’ subject for the media and campaigns alike, with both sides thinking they gain tremendous leverage in her disparagement or apotheosis.
  9. Tony Rezko (No. 23), Acorn (No. 24) and Jeremiah Wright (No. 26) are indeed issues, but are viewed as minor, settled or both for the Obama campaign.
  10. The word, aloof, as related to Obama is no longer on the list.  At the end of the Primary season in June, it was No 14 and a major concern of the Obama campaign.  Obama has apparently overcome this sense of aloofness.

The ranking of Top Election Buzzwords of the 2008 Presidential Campaign and commentary follow.

Presidential Campaign PQI 11.2.08 Comment
Rank
1 Change Obama has a 3:2 Edge over McCain with Change
2 Climate Change Global warming within 1/2 of 1% for the overall lead
3 Gasoline Up 2 this week as prices fall
4 Recession Does a global financial meltdown count as a recession?
5 Experience Down 2; McCain has 4:3 Edge Here
6 Obama Muslim A continued presence in Cyberspace
7 Subprime How we got into this mess in the first place
8 Surge One of the Top Words from ‘07 now taking a victory lap
9 “That one” Has spurred the Obama base with ‘I’m for That One’ slogans
10 “Just Words” Oh Hillary, what hath thou wrought?
11 Gender Up dramatically since fall campaign though down for week
12 Working Class Whites Still the object of much affection AND derision
13 Price of oil More discussion as price declines; up 5
14 Palin Swimsuit On SNL Alec Baldwin claimed Balin’s ‘way hotter in person’
15 Joe the Plumber Now making appearances with McCain; up 5
16 Racism (election) Belies all the media buzz; now in top 20
17 Obama smoking Down 5 but still in Top Twenty
18 Financial meltdown Now buzzworthy, indeed.
19 Wall Street Bailout As reality of global financial meltdown sets in, down 6
20 Internet fundraising Hangs in there as a hot buzzword at 20
21 Lipstick Drops dramatically over the last survey; down 10
22 Raise taxes Raise Taxes No 22; cut taxes No. 27.  Ho Hum.
23 Rezko Obama’s relationship with Tony Rezko gains one
24 Acorn Voter Reg Loses a couple as interest apparently wanes
25 Al Qaeda election Lurking beneath the surface but falls out of Top Twenty
26 Jeremiah Wright Dr. Wright remains on the radar though falling five more spots
27 Cut taxes Raise Taxes No 22; cut taxes No. 27.  Ho Hum.
28 Hockey Mom Causes headlines but not a top issue
29 Nuclear Iran Drops one more spot since last survey
30 Wash Talking Heads Not a good week for the Cognoscenti; down 15

The ranking is determined by GLM’s PQI Index, a proprietary algorithm that scours the global print and electronic media, the Internet, and blogosphere for ‘hot’ political buzzwords and then ranks them according to year-over-year change, acceleration and directional momentum.  Using this methodology, GLM was the only media analytics organization that foresaw the ’04 electorate voting with their moral compasses rather than their pocketbooks.

The Top Political Buzzwords for the 2006 Midterm Elections included:  Throes, Quagmire, Credibility, Global Warming, and Insurgency; the Top Political Buzzwords from the 2004 Campaign included:  Swift Boats, Flip Flop, Quagmire, Fahrenheit 911, Misleader, and Liar!

Listen to the Interview on WNYC/PRI

.

The Final Debate:  Obama & McCain Differ Sharply

Obama Doubles Use of Passive Voice Over McCain

Memorable quotes: ‘Joe the Plumber’; ‘I am not President Bush’

AUSTIN, Texas,  October 16, 2008.  In a linguistic analysis of the final Presidential Debate between Barack Obama and John McCain, the Global Language Monitor has found that in sharp contrast to prior debates, Obama’s use of the passive voice doubled that of McCain (and was significantly higher than he typically uses).  The use of the passive voice is considered significant in political speech because audiences generally respond better to active voice, which they tend to view asmore direct.  On a grade-level basis, Obama came in at 9.3 with McCain scoring grade level, while McCain came in at 7.4, a difference of nearly two grade levels.  The debate took place at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York.   The statistical breakdown follows.

Obama McCain Difference
Words 7,146 6,562 584
Words/Sentence 19.4 15.2 4.2
Sentences/Paragraph 2.0 2.1 5%
Characters/Word 4.4 4.4 0%
Passive Voice (%) 6% 3% 100%
Reading Ease 62.6 68.6 6
Grade level 9.3 7.4 1.9

Using industry-standard tools and techniques, GLM ranks the candidates’ speech on a number of levels from grade-reading level, the use of the passive voice, a reading ease score (the higher, the easiest to understand), the number of words per sentence, the number of characters per word, among others.

Again, word choice and usage speaks volumes,” said Paul JJ Payack, GLM’s President & Chief Word Analyst. “Obama came in at a higher grade level than his previous efforts, but McCain was somewhat easier to understand.  Obama’s significantly higher use of the passive voice combined with his frequent use of the word ‘I’ perhaps indicated an impatience with his opponent  last witnessed in his debates with Hillary Clinton.”

Read:   L’Histoire’s    La Langue des Campagnes

 

Obama used the personal pronoun, ‘I’ about 158 times in the debate, while McCain used the word some 119 times.

Memorable phrases include more than a dozen references to ‘Joe the Plumber,’ one Joe Wurzelbacher of Holland, Ohio, and John McCain’s ‘I am not President Bush’ retort to Sen. Obama’s attempt to link his policies to those of the current president.

Obama the Intellectual
Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times

 

For comparison purposes, here is the results last week’s Town-hall style debate. That debate was notable in the fact that the questions asked by the audience outdistanced both Obama and McCain in the grade-level ranking category.  Perhaps, the most memorable phrase from that debate is perhaps ‘’That one!” the term McCain used to refer to Obama.  “That One” has already joined GLM’s analysis of the Top Political Buzzwords of the 2008 Campaign.

Obama McCain Difference
Words 7,146 6,562 584
Words/Sentence 19.4 15.2 4.2
Sentences/Paragraph 2.0 2.1 5%
Characters/Word 4.4 4.4 0%
Passive Voice (%) 6% 3% 100%
Reading Ease 62.6 68.6 6
Grade level 9.3 7.4 1.9

Top Buzzwords of Presidential Campaign: Two Weeks Out

 

Bailout falls dramatically; Experience and Gender Rise
‘Change’ and ’Global Warming/Climate Change’ in statistical tie for top

.

AUSTIN, Texas,  October 21, 2008 – In an analysis completed just two weeks before the US Presidential Elections the Global Language Monitor has announced that Change and Climate Change remain in a statistical tie for top spot in its list of Political Buzzwords of the 2008 Presidential Campaign, with Bailout falling dramatically to No. 13.

“In the Change ranking, Obama outdistanced McCain by a 3:2 ratio, while in the No. 2 Experience ranking, McCain held a 3:2 edge over Obama,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “Joe the Plumber and ACORN voter registration references broke into the Top 25, at No. 19 and No. 22, respectively. In a related finding, Gender (No. 10) continued to rise as Race (No. 20) continued to fall, raising the question if gender is the new race?”

Political buzzwords are terms or phrases that become loaded with emotional freight beyond the normal meaning of the word.  For example, the word surge has been in the English-language vocabulary since time immemorial.  However, in its new context as an Iraq War strategy, it inspires a set of emotions in many people far beyond the norm. The rank of Top Election Buzzwords, past rank, and commentary follow.

1. Change (1) — Obama has a 3:2 edge over McCain with Change

2. Climate Change (2) — Global warming within 1/2 of 1% for the overall lead

3. Experience (5) — McCain has 3:2 edge over Obama with Experience

4. Recession (4) — World economy imploding but still not officially a ‘recession’

5. Gasoline (6) — Up one as the price dropsa1

6. Obama Muslim Connection (8) — A persistent topic in Cyberspace; up 2

7. Subprime (7) — How we got into this mess in the first place

8. Surge (10) — One of the Top Words from ‘07 moving up ‘ 08 chart

9. “That one” (12) – The remark has spurred the Obama base: ‘I’m for That One’

10. Gender (9) – Is ‘gender’ the new ‘race’?

11. Lipstick (13) — Any talk of Lipstick seems to spur McCain-Palin base

12. Obama smoking (11) – Surprise here; continues to draw interest

13. Bailout (3) – Bailout, as a word, dramatically slipping as reality of the entire debacle sets in

14. “Just Words” (20) — Hillary’s comment on Obama still echoes through the media

15. Washington Talking Heads (21) – Up six this past week alone

16. Palin Swimsuit (24) – Fueled by Alec Baldwin on SNL: Balin’s ‘way hotter in person’

17. Al Qaeda (14) — Always lurking beneath the surface

18. Price of oil (15) – Weakens as price declines

19. Joe the Plumber (NR) – Breaks into Top 25 in debut

20. Race (16) – Continues to drop in media buzz

21. Jeremiah Wright (19) — Dr. Wright remains on the radar, down from No.2 at start

22. Acorn Voter Registration (NR) – Debuts in Top 25; dramatic move over last week

23. Internet fundraising (17) — Loses luster as story; down 6 more spots

24. Rezko (25) — Obama’s relationship with Tony Rezko breaks into Top 25

25. Raise taxes (18) Raise Taxes No 25; cut taxes No. 27: Are you Listening

Others

26. Hockey Mom (22) – Loses a bit of steam

27. Cut taxes (26) Both ‘cut’ and ‘raise’ down this week, again

28. Nuclear Iran (23) Peaked out at No. 18

The ranking is determined by GLM’s PQI Index, a proprietary algorithm that scours the global print and electronic media, the Internet, and blogosphere for ‘hot’ political buzzwords and then ranks them according to year-over-year change, acceleration and directional momentum.  Using this methodology, GLM was the only media analytics organization that foresaw the ’04 electorate voting with their moral compasses rather than their pocketbooks.

The Top Political Buzzwords for the 2006 Midterm Elections included:  Throes, Quagmire, Credibility, Global Warming, and Insurgency; the Top Political Buzzwords from the 2004 Campaign included:  Swift Boats, Flip Flop, Quagmire, Fahrenheit 911, Misleader, and Liar!

The US Presidential Election and the Financial Tsunami

Seemingly chaotic events reflect normalcy of new reality

A Historical Inflection Point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the preceding five years, The Global Language Monitor has attempted to clarify the course (and future course) of human events as documented in the English language. The tools at our disposal have sometimes allowed us to peer into events and trends that become, otherwise, obscured, by the ‘noise’ of the Twenty-four Hour News Cycle. Our goal was, and continues to be, to extricate (and explicate upon) the true currents underpinning the events we call news, and to better understand what they mean and how they are perceived with the new media reality in mind. For example, back in the days preceding the 2004 Presidential election cycle, GLM discovered the fact that once ideas, words and phrases were launched into the vast, uncharted, oceanic Internet, they do not, indeed, die out after twenty-four hours but, rather, travel in deep, powerful currents and waves (not unlike those of a tsunami) that only grow stronger as they make their ways to distant shores.

In this new reality, tsunami-like ideas pass through vast seas of information of the Internet, nearly undetected and often unmeasured, until they crash upon our shorelines, where their full power (and possibly fury) is unleashed. The fact that we only entertain them for 24 hours before they are dispatched into the archives of what is considered ‘past’ or ‘passed’ and readily discarded, is beyond the point. We often hear that ‘we’ve never seen anything like this’ before. Of course not. Think back a few hundred years to other information revolutions, such as that introduced along with mechanical type. What do you think the fortunate few thought when they first laid their eyes upon the works of Aristotle, the Bible, or the Arabic translations of Euclid? No one had ever seen anything like that before! Indeed. And astonishment will only become more so as the future unfolds.

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

Vice Presidential Debate Linguistic Analysis:

Palin at 10th Grade-level; Biden at 8th Grade-level

Palin’s use of passive voice highest of the 2008 Debates

Read about CNN’s take on the GLM debate analysis.

The Debate on the Debate on the 

An Analysis of the Analysis

AUSTIN, Texas,  October 3, 2008. The first and only vice presidential debate of the 2008 Campaign has resulted in Governor Sarah Palin, the republican nominee for vice president speaking at a 10th-grade level, with Senator Joe Biden coming in at an 8th-grade level.  Also noteworthy was the fact that Gov. Palin’s use of passive voice was the highest (at 8%) of the 2008 Presidential and Vice Presidential debates thus far.  The analysis was performed by The Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com), the Austin, Texas-based media analytics and analysis company.

GLM ranks the candidates’ speech on a number of levels from grade-reading level, the use of the passive voice, ‘a readability’ score (the closer to one hundred the easiest to understand, the number of words per sentence, even the number of characters per word.

The statistical breakdown follows.

Vice Presidential Debate

Biden Palin Comment
Grade Level 7.8 9.5 Palin raises a few eyebrows here.
No. of Words 5,492 5235 This is a surprise; shows tremendous restraint on the normally loquacious Biden. Obama used 20 more words per minute than McCain.
Sentences/Paragraph 2.7 2.6 A statistical tie.
Words/Sentence 15.8 19.9 Palin even outdistances professorial Obama on this one; Obama scored 17.4
Characters/Word 4.4 4.4 Everyone has apparently learned that shorter words are easier to understand (rather than monosylablic words facilitate comprehension).
Passive Voice 5% 8% Passive voice can be used to deflect responsibility; Biden used active voice when referring to Cheney and Bush; Palin countered with passive deflections.
Ease of Reading 66.7 62.4 100 is the easiest to read (or hear).

Notes:  The excessive use of passive voice can be used to obscure responsibility, since there is no ‘doer of the action’.  For example, ‘Taxes will be raised’ is a passive construction, while ‘I will raise (or lower) taxes’ is an active construction.  Five percent is considered average; low for a politician.

By way of comparison, the ranking by grade-levels for historical debates follow.

Historical Contrasts Grade level
Lincoln in Lincoln-Douglas Debates 11.2
Joseph Lieberman 9.9
Ronald Reagan 9.8
John F. Kennedy 9.6
Sarah Palin 9.5
Richard Nixon 9.1
Dick Cheney 9.1
Michael Dukakis 8.9
Bill Clinton 8.5
Al Gore 8.4
George W. Bush 7.1
George H.W. Bush 6.6
Ross Perot 6.3

The number of words is considered approximate, since transcripts vary.

The methodology employed is a modified Flesch-Kincaid formulation.

The First Presidential Debate:

A ‘Linguistic Dead Heat’ — with One Exception

In true professorial fashion, Obama averages some 20 more words per minute

AUSTIN, Texas,  September 28, 2008. The first presidential debate of the 2008 Campaign resulted in a ‘Linguistic Dead Heat’ according to an analysis performed by The Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com).  In nearly every category, from grade level to the use of passive voice, even the average numbers of letters in the words they chose, the candidates remained within the statistical margin of error with one major exception.  In the Number of Words category that the candidates used to convey their messages, Obama, in true professorial style, outdistanced McCain by some thousand words, which breaks down to an average of about 20 more words per minute.

“As in the famous Harvard-Yale game back in 1968, Harvard declared a victory after securing a come-from-behind 29-29 tie.   In the same manner, both sides of the debate have declared victory in an essential deadlocked outcome,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM. “Look at the debate as a football game.  Both teams effectively moved the ball.  However, the scoring was low, and the quarterbacks performed as expected, with McCain completing some excellently thrown passes only to have others blocked by Obama.  Obama’s ground game was more impressive, churning out the yards — but he had difficulty getting the ball over the goal line.”

The statistical breakdown follows.

McCain Obama
Sentences per paragraph 2.2 2.1
Words per sentence 15.9 17.4
Characters per word 4.4 4.3
Passive voice 5% 5%
Ease of Reading (100 Top) 63.7 66.8
Grade Level 8.3 8.2
Number of words (approximate) 7,150 8,068

Notes:  The excessive use of passive voice can be used to obscure responsibility, since there is no ‘doer of the action’.  For example, ‘Taxes will be raised’ is a passive construction, while ‘I will raise (or lower) taxes’ is an active construction.  Five percent is considered low.

What are they saying in China?

McCain’s Speech Comes in at the Third Grade Level

Most Direct of all Speakers at Either Convention

Palin & Obama Speech Score Nearly Identical

Austin, Texas, USA. September 7, 2008. (Updated)  In an exclusive analysis of the speeches made at the recently concluded Political Conventions, the Global Language Monitor found that John McCain spoke at a third-grade reading level, meaning that his speech was the easiest to comprehend of any delivered at either convention. GLM also found that McCain scored the lowest of all convention speakers in use of the passive voice, an indication of ‘direct’ talk. Higher use of the passive voice is often view as an indicator of ‘indirect’ and more easily confused speech because the doer of the action is obscured: ‘Taxes will be raised’ rather than ‘I will raise taxes’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In another finding, GLM found that both Sarah Palin’s and Barack Obama’s widely viewed (38 and 37 million viewers respectively), and much acclaimed acceptance speeches were closely similar, delivered in language that reflected a ninth grade (9.2 and 9.3 respectively) ‘reading level’.

The basic language evaluation stats are shown below.

John McCain Sarah Palin Barack Obama
3.7 9.2 9.3 Grade Level
1.9 1.3 1.5 Sentences / Paragraph
4.4 4.4 4.4 Letters / Word
79.1 63.8 64.4 Reading Ease (100 is easiest)
6.4 19.5 22.1 Words / Sentence
2% 8% 5% Passive Sentences

It is widely believed that shorter sentences, words and paragraphs are easier to comprehend.

The analysis was performed by the Global Language Monitor, the media analysis and analytics agency.

GLM used a modified Flesch-Kincaid formula for its analysis, which measures factors such as number of words in a sentence, number of letters in a word, the percentage of sentences in passive voice, and other indicators of making things easier to read and, hence, understand.

This release comes in at the second year of college level (14+). 

Warning: do not incorporate these words into presidential addresses.

 

Top Political Buzzwords of the 2008 Primary Season

 

Top Political Buzzwords BEFORE the Primary Season

VP Debate Grade-level Ranking

Palin at 10 th Grade-level; Biden at 8th Grade-level

 

Palin’s use of passive voice highest of the 2008 Debates

 

Austin, Texas, USA.   October 3, 2008. The first and only vice presidential debate of the 2008 Campaign has resulted in Governor Sarah Palin, the republican nominee for vice president speaking at a 10th grade level, with Senator Joe Biden coming in at an 8th grade level.  Also noteworthy was the fact that Gov. Palin’s use of passive voice was the highest (at 8%) of the 2008 Presidential and Vice Presidential debates thus far.  The analysis was performed by The Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com), the Austin, Texas-based media analytics and analysis company.

GLM ranks the candidates’ speech on a number of levels from grade-reading level, the use of the passive voice, ‘a readability’ score (the closer to one hundred the easiest to understand, the number of words per sentence, even the number of characters per word. 

The statistical breakdown follows.

Vice Presidential Debate
Biden Palin Comment
Grade Level 7.8 9.5 Palin raises a few eyebrows here.
No. of Words 5,492 5235 This is a surprise; shows tremendous restraint on the normally loquacious Biden.  Obama used 20 more words per minute than McCain.
Sentences/Paragraph 2.7 2.6 A statistical tie.
Words/Sentence 15.8 19.9 Palin even outdistances professorial Obama on this one; Obama scored 17.4
Characters/Word 4.4 4.4 Everyone has apparently learned that shorter words are easier to understand (rather than monosylablic words facilitate comprehension).
Passive Voice 5% 8% Passive voice can be used to deflect responsibility;  Biden used active voice when referring to Cheney and Bush;  Palin countered with passive deflections.
Ease of Reading 66.7 62.4 100 is the easiest to read (or hear).

 

Notes:  The excessive use of passive voice can be used to obscure responsibility, since there is no ‘doer of the action’.  For example, ‘Taxes will be raised’ is a passive construction, while ‘I will raise (or lower) taxes’ is an active construction.  Five percent is considered average; low for a politician. 

By way of comparison, the ranking by grade-levels for historical debates follow.

 

Historical Contrasts Grade level
  Lincoln in Lincoln-Douglas Debates   11.2
  Joseph Lieberman   9.9
  Ronald Reagan   9.8
  John F. Kennedy   9.6
  Sarah Palin   9.5
  Richard Nixon   9.1
  Dick Cheney   9.1
  Michael Dukakis   8.9
  Bill Clinton   8.5
  Al Gore   8.4
  George W. Bush   7.1
  George H.W. Bush   6.6
  Ross Perot   6.3

 

The number of words is considered approximate, since transcripts vary.

The methodology employed is a modified Flesch-Kincaid formulation.

 

First Debate a ‘Linguistic Dead Heat’

The First Debate:  A ‘Linguistic Dead Heat’ — with One Exception

In true professorial fashion, Obama averages some 20 more words per minute

 

Austin, Texas, USA.   September 28, 2008. The first presidential debate of the 2008 Campaign resulted in a ‘Linguistic Dead Heat’ according to an analysis performed by The Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com).  In nearly every category, from grade level to the use of passive voice, even the average numbers of letters in the words they chose, the candidates remained within the statistical margin of error with one major exception.  In the Number of Words category that the candidates used to convey their messages, Obama, in true professorial style, outdistanced McCain by some thousand words, which breaks down to an average of about 20 more words per minute.

As in the famous Harvard-Yale game back in 1968, Harvard declared a victory after securing a come-from-behind 29-29 tie.   In the same manner, both sides in the debate have declared victory in an essential deadlocked outcome,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM. “Look at the debate as a football game.  Both teams effectively moved the ball.  However, the scoring was low, and the quarterbacks performed as expected, with McCain completing some excellently thrown passes only to have others blocked by Obama.  Obama’s ground game was more impressive, churning out the yards — but he had difficulty getting the ball over the goal line.”

The statistical breakdown follows.

  McCain Obama
  Sentences per paragraph 2.2 2.1
  Words per sentence 15.9 17.4
  Characters per word 4.4 4.3
  Passive voice  5% 5%
  Ease of Reading (100 Top) 63.7 66.8
  Grade Level 8.3 8.2
  Number of words (approximate) 7,150 8,068

 

Notes:  The excessive use of passive voice can be used to obscure responsibility, since there is no ‘doer of the action’.  For example, ‘Taxes will be raised’ is a passive construction, while ‘I will raise (or lower) taxes’ is an active construction.  Five percent is considered low. 

 What are they saying in China?

 

 

The number of words is considered approximate, since transcripts vary.

The methodology employed is a modified Flesch-Kincaid formulation.

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. A worldwide assemblage of language professionals, teachers, wordsmiths and bibliophiles, supports the GLM to help monitor the latest trends in the evolution (and demise) of language, word usage and word choices.

English has become the first truly global language with some 1.35 billion speakers as a first, second or auxiliary language.  Paul JJ Payack examines its impact on the world economy, culture and society in A Million Words and Counting (Citadel Press, New York, 2008).

For more information, call 1.925.367.7557, send email to info@LanguageMonitor.com, or visit www.LanguageMonitor.com.

Top Television Buzzwords of ’08

Beijing tops ObamaSpeak as the Top Teleword of the Year followed byfacts are stubborn things’, ‘it is what it is,’ and Phelpsian.  

 

The Global Language Monitor’s Fifth Annual Analysis

 

Austin, Texas, USA.   September 23, 2008. The Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com) today announced the top words impacting Global English for the recently ended 2008 television season.  The Top Teleword was Beijing as in Beijing Olympics, an appropriate honor for the most watched television program of all time followed by ObamaSpeak, John Adams’ phrase ‘facts are stubborn things’, the ubiquitous  it is what it is,’ and Phelpsian.  Rounding out the Top Ten were Third Screen, Vincible, Lip Synching, Lipstick (as ‘in on a pig’), and IPTV. 

“As always, words stemming from Television’s three screens, impacted Global English in interesting, innovative, and always fascinating ways,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM. “This year, two events dominated television, the Beijing Olympics and the US Presidential Elections”

The Top Telewords of the 2008 season with commentary follow:

1.     Beijing: The Beijing Olympics were the most-watched television show of all time with some 4.7 billion global viewers. 

2.     ObamaSpeak:  Words coined to describe the Obama Barack phenomenon, including obamamentum, obamabot, obamacize, obamarama, and obamaNation.

3.     “It is, what it is”:  Everywhere on the tube this year from “The Wire” to the Roger Clemons Steroid in Baseball Congressional hearings.

4.      “Facts are stubborn things”:  John Adams’ quaint turn of phrase for ‘it is what it is’.  The John Adams biopic won the most Emmys ever for a single program.

5.     Phelpsian:  New word coined to describe the Phelpsian Pheat of winning eight golds in a single Olympics.

6.     Third Screen:  Watching Television on your TV (first screen), your computer (second screen), and now your mobile device, the third screen.

7.     Vincible:  The invincible New England Patriots prove vincible after all, with a shocking upset by the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

8.     Lip Synching:  The fate of Lin Miaoke, the little girl who didn’t sing the song the whole world sings in the Olympics opening ceremony.

9.     Lipstick:  On a pig or otherwise, a media sensation this year for a supposed characterization of Republican VP aspirant Sarah Pallin.

10.  IPTV:  Internet protocol-based television, the wave of the future.

 

The Top Telewords of previous years were:

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

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

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

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

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. A worldwide assemblage of language professionals, teachers, wordsmiths and bibliophiles, supports the GLM to help monitor the latest trends in the evolution (and demise) of language, word usage and word choices.

English has become the first truly global language with some 1.35 billion speakers as a first, second or auxiliary language.  Paul JJ Payack examines its impact on the world economy, culture and society in A Million Words and Counting (Citadel Press, New York, 2008).

For more information, call 1.925.367.7557, send email to info@LanguageMonitor.com, or visit www.LanguageMonitor.com.

 

Contact: Paul JJ Payack

http://www.LanguageMonitor.com

(925) 367-7557 Phone

pjjp@post.harvard.edu email

First Internet-based College and University Rankings

..

Colorado College Tops Williams in College Category;
Richmond, Middlebury & Wellesley follow

Harvard nips Columbia in University Category;
Michigan, Berkeley & Stanford Follow

Austin, Texas, USA.   September 19, 2008.   (Updated) In an exclusive TrendTopper Media BuzzTManalysis of the nation’s colleges and universities, the Global Language Monitor  (www.LangaugeMonitor.com) has ranked the nation’s colleges and universities  according their appearance on the Internet, throughout the Blogosphere, as well in the global print and electronic media.  This analysis will be updated on a quarterly basis.

In the University category, Harvard nipped Columbia for top spot with Michigan, the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford following.  Rounding out the top ten were: the University of Chicago, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Yale, Princeton and Cornell.

Taken as a whole, the University of California system would have outdistanced Harvard for the Top Spot by a wide margin.

In the Liberal Arts College category, Colorado College upset Williams for the Top Spot, while Richmond, Middlebury and  Wellesley followed.  This is the first time, in any national ranking that a Liberal Arts College from the West ranked in the Top Spot. Rounding out the Top Ten were: Bucknell, Amherst, Oberlin, Vassar, and Pomona College.

Learn about our TrendTopper College Ranking and Branding Services

2008 2008
Rank Top Universities Rank Top Colleges
1 Harvard University 1 Colorado College
2 Columbia University 2 Williams College
3 University of Michigan, 3 University of Richmond
4 Univ. of California, Berkeley 4 Middlebury College
5 Stanford University 5 Wellesley College
6 University of Chicago 6 Bucknell University
7 University of Wisconsin 7 Amherst College
8 Yale University 8 Oberlin College
9 Princeton University 9 Vassar College
10 Cornell University 10 Pomona College
11 University of Pennsylvania 11 Hamilton College
12 Johns Hopkins University 12 Union College
13 Duke University 13 Swarthmore College
14 Boston College 14 Colgate University
15 New York University 15 Bard College
16 University of Washington 16 Carleton College
17 Georgia Tech 17 Bowdoin College
18 U. of California, Santa Barbara 18 Connecticut College
19 MIT 19 Colby College
20 University of Illinois 20 US Naval Academy
21 Boston University 21 Barnard College
22 University of Florida 22 US Military Academy
23 Northwestern University 23 Bates College
24 University of Virginia 24 Bryn Mawr College
25 University of Texas, Austin 25 Skidmore College
26 Univ. of Southern California 26 Gettysburg College
27 Georgetown University 27 Davidson College
28 Vanderbilt University 28 Mount Holyoke College
29 University of North Carolina 29 Furman University
30 Brown University 30 Lafayette College

.

There are only three types of intellectual property in the US, and one of them is the trademark (or brand) which are intended to represent all the perceived attributes of a service - and institutions of higher education are no different,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst at GLM.  “Prospective students, alumni, employers, and the world at large believe that students who are graduated from such institutions will carry on the all the hallmarks of that particular school.  Our TrendTopper analysis is a way of seeing the schools through the eyes of the world at large.”

The schools were also ranked according to ‘media momentum’ defined as having the largest change in media citations over the last year.  The Universities that ranked highest in ‘media momentum’ were: Vanderbilt, Virginia, Emory, Rice, University of Texas, Austin, Washington University in St. Louis, Lehigh, and the Universities of California at Santa Barbara, Irvine, and Berkeley.  The Colleges that ranked highest in ‘media momentum’ were: Hamilton College, Pomona, Skidmore, Bard, Gettysburg, Sewanee (University of the South), Furman, Colby, Connecticut, and Colgate University.

.

Rank Universities — Momentum Rank Colleges — Momentum
1 Vanderbilt University 1 Hamilton College
2 University of Virginia 2 Pomona College
3 Emory University 3 Skidmore College
4 Rice University 4 Bard College
5 University of Texas, Austin 5 Gettysburg College
6 Washington University in St. Louis 6 Sewanee, U of the South
7 Lehigh University 7 Furman University
8 University of California, Santa Barbara 8 Colby College
9 University of California, Irvine 9 Connecticut College
10 University of California, Berkeley 10 Colgate University
11 University of Washington 11 Middlebury College
12 University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 12 Claremont-McKenna
13 Boston University 13 Carleton College
14 University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 14 Whitman College
15 California Institute of Technology 15 Trinity College
16 Johns Hopkins University 16 University of Richmond
17 Boston College 17 Colorado College
18 Brown University 18 Bates College
19 Villanova University 19 Wesleyan University
20 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 20 Harvey Mudd College

.

GLM used its proprietary Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI) software for the TrendTopper Media Buzz Analysis. GLM used the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s classifications to distinguish between Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges. The schools were ranked according to their positions in early September, a mid-year snapshot, and used the last day of 2007 as the base.
For more information, call 1.925.367.7557 or email TrendTopper@GlobalLanguageMonitor.com.  An in-depth report is available on subscription basis.

How 9/11 Changed the Way Americans Speak

 

Subtle Yet Profound Differences

 

 

Austin, Texas, USA. September 11, 2008. (Updated) The Global Language Monitor today released an updated analysis of how the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and the pending targets in Washington, D.C., widely suspected to be the White House or the Capitol Building, have changed the way Americans speak in terms of vernacular, word choice and tone.

Updating an earlier analysis completed on the Fifth Anniversary of the attacks, it a continued and historic change in an ‘unCivil War‘ in terms of the vitriolic exchange currently witnessed on the American Political scene.  According to Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM (www.LanguageMonitor.com), these are a few of the ways where the events of 9/11 have impacted the way Americans speak.

1. 9/11 — The first case is the use of 9/11, itself, as a shorthand for the 2001 terrorist attacks. Using various web metrics, 9/11 outpaces any other name, including the spelled out ‘September 11th” by 7:1 margin. This designation in itself it quite interesting. It is true that Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed the Pearl Harbor attack as “December 7th, 1941 as a day which will live in infamy”. But there were no “12/7” rallying cries thereafter. Neither were the dates immortalized of the original battles of the Korean War, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident which preceded the major escalation of the Vietnam War, The First Gulf War, The Afganistan siege, or even the recent Iraqi Invasion. Only the 7/7 attacks on the London Subway system are recorded in common memory by their date (and primarily in the UK in general,  and London in particular).

2. Ground Zero — The name Ground Zero evokes a sacred place, where the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers once stood. It is also revered as a burial ground since thousands of bodies literally vaporized in the ensuing collapse with no remains found whatsoever. Almost universally, it is capitalized as any other proper name, with a few exceptions, most notably the New York Times. Even this week, The Times insisted on referring to Ground Zero in the lower case, calling it ‘the area known as ground zero’. (Sic) Names are officially bestowed in a number of ways, most often by bureaucratic committees following arcane sets of rules, answering to few. In this case, we kindly request those bureaucrats to follow the lead of hundreds of millions around the world who have formally bestowed upon that special place, the formal name of Ground Zero.

3. Hero — In mythology, heroes were men and women often of divine ancestry endowed with the gifts of courage and strength. In reality, everyday heroes of the late 20th and early 21st centuries were sports figures (‘Be like Mike’ and ‘Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio’), comic book and cartoon characters ala Superman and Spiderman, and all too frequently ‘anti-heroes’ known for the colossal damage they might inflict upon a helpless (and often hapless) world. Into this tableaux, came the heroes of 9/11, very real men and women, rushing into and up the Towers as everyone else was rushing down and out; rushing the cockpit of Flight 93, with knives and forks and steaming hot coffee, forcing the startled highjackers to abandon their plans of crashing into the Capitol or White House rather than the previously unheralded soil of Swanksville, PA; and the men and women who quietly stood their posts at the Pentagon, just doing their duty, not knowing if they would be subjected to another horrific, and more deadly, attack at any moment. In the post-9/11 world, the term has now come to apply to any who place their lives in danger to foster the public good, especially ‘first-responders’ such as: firefighters, EMTs, and police, who quietly place their lives on the line every day.

4. -stan — The suffix in Persian and related languages that means, literally, ‘land of,’ hence, Afghanistan or Land of the Afghans, or Kurdistan (or Kurdish Territories), or even this relatively new moniker: Londonistan.  Talibanistan, referring to Afganistan and the ‘tribal lands’ in Pakistan in the New York Times Sunday Magazine is the latest instantiation.

5. The unCivil War — Since 9/11 after a very short reprieve, the political discourse of American politics has, arguably, descended to its lowest level since the Civil-War era when Lincoln was typically depicted as a know-nothing, Bible-spouting Baboon. Even speech of the Watergate era was spared the hyperbole commonly heard today, as respect for the institution of the presidency remained high. Today, political opponents are routinely called ‘liars,’ are typically compared to Hitler, Nazis and Fascists; are accused of purposely allowing New Orleans’ inundation in order to destroy disenfranchised elements of our population, and so on. It is very difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of this reaction. It has been suggested that in the face of a nearly invisible, constantly morphing, enemy, we have turned the attack inward, upon ourselves, and our institutions.

 

2008 Olympic Sponsors Medal Round

 

Final GLM TrendTopper MediaBuzz Rankings

 

Lenovo Takes the Gold Pulling Away

J&J Finishes Strong Edging McDonald’s,

Coca-Cola Leaps Over Rivals

Austin, Texas, USA.   August 29, 2008.   The final week of the GLM TrendTopper™ analysis of the performance of the Global Sponsors at the Beijing Olympics, Lenovo (OTC: LNVGY) takes the Gold pulling away from the pack, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:  JNJ) finishes strong edging McDonald’s (NYSE:  MCD) for the Silver, while Coca-Cola (NYSE: K), in a bold move leaps five spots to No. 4.

On the downside, Samsung (OTC: SSNFL) and Kodak (NYSE: K) each fell three spots to No. 6 and 7 respectively.

Over the last two weeks, Lenovo has completed its remarkable climb from No. 10 to the Top Spot. The analysis was performed by the Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com), the internet and media tracking agency.

Global Sponsors

Last

Change

Rank

1

Lenovo

1

0

2

J&J

5

3

3

McDonald’s

2

-1

4

Coca-Cola

9

5

5

Visa

6

1

6

Samsung

3

-3

7

Kodak

4

-3

8

Panasonic

7

-1

9

Omega

8

-1

10

GE

10

0

11

Atos Origin

11

0

12

Manulife

12

0

According to Paul JJ Payack, President, “In medal round of our competition, Lenovo performed a Phelpsian move pulling away from the crowd.  In fact, its media awareness grew over 2100% since our baseline ‘snapshot’ on the last day of 2007.  The strength of the Johnson & Johnson brand was also remarkable at No. 2. McDonald’s brand equity was leveraged in clever and interesting ways, especially with their spectacular kick-off event. And, once again, Coca-Cola proved itself in the distance events, placing at or near the top for another Olympiad.”  

 

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McCain’s Speech at 3rd Grade Level

 

Most Direct of all Speakers at Either Convention

 

Palin and Obama Speech Scores Nearly Identical

 

Austin, Texas, USA.   September 7, 2008. (Updated)  In an exclusive analysis of the speeches made at the recently concluded Political Conventions, the Global Language Monitor found that John McCain spoke at a third grade reading level, meaning that his speech was the easiest to comprehend of any delivered at either convention.  GLM also found that McCain scored the lowest of all convention speakers in use of the passive voice, an indication of ‘direct’ talk.  Higher use of the passive voice is often view as an indicator of ‘indirect’ and more easily confused speech because the doer of the action is obscured:  ‘Taxes will be raised’  rather than ‘I will raise taxes’. 

In another finding, GLM found that both Sarah Palin’s and Barack Obama’s widely viewed (38 and 37 million viewers respectively), and much acclaimed  acceptance speeches were closely similar, delivered in language that reflected a ninth grade (9.2 and 9.3 respectively) ‘reading level’.  

The basic language evaluation stats are shown below.

 

John McCain Sarah Palin Barack Obama
3.7 9.2 9.3 Grade Level
1.9 1.3 1.5 Sentences / Paragraph
4.4 4.4 4.4 Letters / Word
79.1 63.8 64.4 Reading Ease (100 is easiest)
6.4 19.5 22.1 Words / Sentence
2% 8% 5% Passive Sentences

It is widely believed that shorter sentences, words and paragraphs are easier to comprehend.

The analysis was performed by the Global Language Monitor, the media analysis and analytics agency.  GLM used a modified Flesch-Kincaid formula for its analysis, which measures factors such as number of words in a sentence, number of letters in a word, the percentage of sentences in passive voice, and other indicators of making things easier to read and, hence, understand.  

This release comes in at the second year of college level (14+).  Warning: do not incorporate these words into presidential addresses.

 

 

Obama’s Acceptance Speech at 9th Grade Level

 

Barak Obama\'s Acceptance Speech Delivered at 9th Grade Level

 

Delivered in more accessible language than past efforts

 

 

Austin, Texas, USA.   September 3, 2008.   In an exclusive analysis of the speeches made at the recently concluded Democratic National Convention, the Global Language Monitor found that Barak Obama’s widely viewed (and acclaimed) acceptance speech was delivered in language that reflected a ninth grade (9.3) ‘reading level’.   ”This is significant,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of GLM, “because Obama was attempting to communicate to an audience estimated at over 38 million viewers in easier to understand language than typical of his past efforts.  He is widely viewed as having succeeded.” 

Other speeches delivered during the convention ranged from grade levels of 10.5 to 6.4:

  •          10.5 (Al Gore),
  •          10.3 (Bill Clinton),
  •          8.7 (Hillary Clinton)
  •          8.0 (Michelle Obama)
  •          6.4 (Joe Biden) 

Two of the most important and popular speeches in American history, The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech also registered at ninth grade levels (9.1 and 8.8 respectively).

Speeches by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan often registered at the 12th grade level. 

The analysis was performed by the Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com), the media analysis and analytics agency.  GLM used a modified Flesch-Kincaid formula for its analysis, which measures factors such as number of words in a sentence, number of letters in a word, the percentage of sentences in passive voice, and other indicators of ‘readability’. 

 

See also:  Obama as a Top Word of 2008

See also:  ObamaSpeak

See also:  Obama Victory Speach Ranked

See also: Final Debate — Candidates Differ Sharply

 

 

PQI

The Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI)

The Global Language Monitor’s proprietary algorithm, the Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI) is the basis of our analytical engine.

The PQI tracks the frequency of words and phrases in the global print and electronic media, on the Internet, throughout the Blogosphere, as well as accessing proprietary databases (Factiva, Lexis-Nexis, etc.).

Once a keyword base index is created (including selected keywords, phrases, ‘excluders’ and ‘penumbra’ words), ‘timestamps’ and a ‘media universe’ are determined.

The PQI is a weighted Index, factoring in: Long-term trends, Short-term changes, Momentum, and Velocity.   As such it can create ’signals’ that can be used in a variety of applications.

Outputs include: the raw PQI, a Directional Signal, or a Relative Ranking with 100 as the base.

When analyzing words and phrases in political contexts, GLM uses the Political-sensitivity Quotient Index; when analyzing words and phrases in any other context, GLM uses a slightly different Predictive Quantities Indicator.  A third variation is used when analyzing words and phrases in commercial contexts called GLM’s TrendTopper software.

If you are interested in taking a closer look at the methodology underlying the PQI, see the slide show below.

A more detail look is available upon the signing of a NDA (non-disclosure agreement).  We will then take you through the methodology in detail as we have done with numerous technology organizations, government agencies, and media organizations.  If you would like to pursue this option, please send email to info@LanguageMonitor.com.

Click here for a slide show explaining the PQI and how it underlies our TrendTopper Services

The New York Times: The Power of Words features the Global Language Monitor and the PQ Indicator

Sunday, January 29, 2006.  This analysis measure the likelihood of a real estate  in New York (as re

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Olympics

Learn about our TrendTopper College Ranking and Branding Services

 

The Medal Round

 

Final GLM TrendTopper MediaBuzz Rankings: 

 

 

Olympic Global Sponsors: GLM TrendTopper Medal Round

 

 

Lenovo Takes the Gold Pulling Away,

 

J&J Finishes Strong Edging McDonald’s,

 

Coca-Cola Leaps Over Rivals

 

 

Austin, Texas, USA.   August 29, 2008.   The final week of the GLM TrendTopper™ analysis of the performance of the Global Sponsors at the Beijing Olympics, Lenovo (OTC: LNVGY) takes the Gold pulling away from the pack, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:  JNJ) finishes strong edging McDonald’s (NYSE:  MCD) for the Silver, while Coca-Cola (NYSE: K), in a bold move leaps five spots to No. 4.

On the downside, Samsung (OTC: SSNFL) and Kodak (NYSE: K) each fell three spots to No. 6 and 7 respectively.

Over the last two weeks Lenovo has completed its remarkable climb from No. 10 to the Top Spot. The analysis was performed by the Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com), the internet and media tracking agency.  

 

Global Sponsors

 

Last

Change

Rank

     

1

Lenovo

1

0

2

J&J

5

3

3

McDonald’s

2

-1

4

Coca-Cola

9

5

5

Visa

6

1

6

Samsung

3

-3

7

Kodak

4

-3

8

Panasonic

7

-1

9

Omega

8

-1

10

GE

10

0

11

Atos Origin

11

0

12

Manulife

12

0

 

According to Paul JJ Payack, President, “In medal round of our competition, Lenovo performed a Phelpsian move pulling away from the crowd.  In fact its media awareness grew over 2100% since our baseline ‘snapshot’ on the last day of 2007.  The strength of the Johnson & Johnson brand was also remarkable at No. 2. McDonald’s brand equity was leveraged in clever and interesting ways, especially with their spectacular kick-off event. And, once again, Coca-Cola proved itself in the distance events, placing at or near the top for another Olympiad.”

 

Media Awareness

 

Since 12/31/07

 

 

 

1

Lenovo

2

Panasonic

3

Kodak

4

Samsung

5

McDonald’s

 

When the ‘ambush marketers’ are are included with the Global Sponsors, the DreamWorks Animation studio, makers of “Kung Fu Panda”, rose to an unprecedented No. 5, while Nike (NYSE: NKE) just did it and finished at No.9.  Pepsi (NYSEPEP), which owns the Gatorade brand, was up slightly, while American Express (NYSE:  AMX) fell five spots.

 

Ambushers Included

 

 

 

   

Last

Change

Rank

     

1

Lenovo

1

0

2

J&J

5

3

3

McDonald’s

2

-1

4

Coca-Cola

12

8

5

Kung fu    Panda

8

3

6

Visa

6

0

7

Samsung

3

-4

8

Nike

9

1

9

Kodak

4

-5

10

Panasonic

10

0

11

Omega

11

0

12

Amex

7

-5

13

Pepsi

14

1

14

GE

13

-1

15

Atos Origin

15

0

16

Manulife

16

0

 

The Global Sponsors for the Beijing Games are:  General Electric (NBC Universal), Coca-Cola, Kodak, Samsung, Lenovo, McDonalds, Omega, Visa, Johnson & Johnson, Panasonic, Manulife and Atos Origin.  The ambush marketers being tracked include American Express, Nike, DreamWorks and their hit movie “Kung Fu Panda”, and Pepsi, which owns the Gatorade brand.

GLM uses proprietary algorithms to analyze how words and phrases (in this case brand names) are used globally in relationship to other words and phrases (in this case related to the Beijing Olympics) and how they perform against one another in order to determine rankings and other relevant outputs. 

 

Olympic MediaBuzz Medal Round:  ATHLETES

 

Phelps Takes Gold,

 

Newly-coined Media Star Lin Miaoke takes the Silver,

 

Nastia Liunkin Edges Shawn Johnson for Bronze

 

Yang Peiyi and Cheng Fei Finish Strong, Yao Ming slips.

Austin, Texas, USA.   August 28, 2008.   In the medal round of the TrendTopper MediaBuzzTM analysis of the Beijing Olympics, GLM measured how the global media buzz surrounding key athletes changed during the course of the Games.  In the MediaBuzz Medal Round, Michael Phelps took the gold as he pulled away from the pack.  The silver belongs to Lin Miaoke, the newly-coined media star.  And in a mild surprise, Nastia Liunkin bolted from No. 11 to No. 3 edging out Shawn Johnson for the bronze. 

Both Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell, the Jamaican sprinters, fared poorly evidencing little staying power, while Guo Jing Jing, apparently having had her moment in the sun, faded. 

And, in yet another compelling twist, Lin Miaoke’s counterpart, Yang Peiyi, the little girl who did, indeed, sing the song the whole world sings moved up ten spots to No. 5.  The analysis was performed by the Global Language Monitor (GLM), the internet and media tracking agency.

Paul JJ Payack, GLM’s President and Chief Word Analyst, said “The media story for the Beijing Olympics was much larger than Michael Phelps.  The plots and subplots, twists and entanglements were compelling at almost every level – from the Opening ceremony to the very end.  Each of these was well reflected in the TrendTopper MediaBuzz analysis.”  

The ranking follows and includes rank, name, last week’s rank, and change. 

Rank

Athlete

Last

Change

1

Michael Phelps (US)

1

0

2

Lin Miaoke (CHI)

2

0

3

Nastia Liukin (US)

11

8

4

Shawn Johnson (US)

9

5

5

Yang Peiyi (Chi)

15

10

6

Cheng Fei (Chi)

17

11

7

Yao ming (CHI)

3

-4

8

Tyson Gay (US)

10

2

9

Cate Campbell (AUS)

12

3

10

Dara Torres (US)

5

-5

11

Leisel Jones (AUS)

13

2

12

Usain Bolt (JAM)

4

-8

13

Grant Hackett (AUS)

20

7

14

Liu Xiang (CHI)

18

4

15

Paula Radcliffe (UK)

19

4

16

Asafa Powell (JAM)

6

-10

17

Allyson Felix (US)

16

-1

18

Sanya Richards (US)

24

6

19

Ben Ainslie (UK)

14

-5

20

Paul Hamm (US)

7

-13

21

Jeremy Wariner (US)

22

1

22

Jana Rawlinson (AUS)

21

-1

23

Jo Pavey (UK)

23

0

24

Libby Lenton (AUS)

25

1

25

Guo Jing Jing (CHI)

8

-17

(For more information and other metrics, call 1.925.367.7557.)

 

 

Olympian Media Buzz:  The Athletes Ranked, Midway Point

 

Bolts’ Phelpsian Surge; Guo Jing Jing as in Bling Bling; Shawn Johnson’s Golden Buzz; Cate Campbell Does Swimmingly.

Liu Xiang, Tyson Gay and Paula Radcliffe Plummet.

Austin, Texas, USA.   August 21, 2008.   In its latest TrendTopperTM analysis of the Beijing Olympics, GLM measured how the media buzz surrounding key athletes has changed during the course of the Games.  As expected Michael Phelps remains a strong No.1 on the TrendTopper BuzzMeter. 

The surprise No. 2, however, belongs to Lin Miaoke, the little girl who didn’t sing the song the whole word sings at the Opening Ceremony.  Miaoke knocked NBA star Yao Ming down to No. 3. 

Lin Miaoke est devenue une célébrité internationale (PeoplesDaily en francais, 8.26.2008)

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt moved up five spots to No. 4.  Forty-one year-old Dara Torres moved up three spots to No. 5, American elite gynmast Shawn Johnson was up to No. 9 and 16-year-old Cate Campbell jumped eleven spots to No. 12. 

 

 

See Lip Syncher Gets Her 15 Minutes of Fame on Reuters

 

 

 

 

 

See The View from China: The Mirror’s Front Page Headline — Lin Miaoke defeats the “little giant

On the downside, Tyson Gay, with a shocking loss in semi-final of 100M, Liu Xiang, China’s first track gold medalist back in Athens, and the UK’s Paula Radcliffe saw their rankings plummet six, eleven and sixteen spots respectively.  The analysis was performed by the Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com), the internet and media tracking agency. 

Paul JJ Payack, GLM’s President and Chief Word Analyst, said “Michael Phelps has joined the athletic Pantheon of Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Pele and Ali, Usain Bolt (No. 4) may be well on the way to becoming the next Michael Phelps, and if lip-syncer Lin Miaoke (No. 2) and Yang Peiyi  (No. 15), her singing counterpart, were in the US, they’d be making the rounds of the morning talk shows.”     

See Analysis by Brent Hunsberger of the Oregonian

 See Analysis by Howard Bloom of Sports Business News

Rank Athlete Last Change Comment
1 Michael Phelps (US) 1 0 A new word: Phelpsian?
2 Lin Miaoke (CHI) 25 23 Didn’t sing the song the whole world sings
3 Yao ming (CHI) 2 -1 Got China to the Medal Round
4 Usain Bolt (JAM) 9 5 Bolts to WR in 100M; the next Michael Phelps?
5 Dara Torres (US) 8 3 41-years old with 3 silvers
6 Asafa Powell (JAM) 5 -1 Fifth to Bolt in 100M
7 Paul Hamm (US) 6 -1 Reigning Gold Medalist pulls out but still media favorite
8 Guo Jing Jing (CHI) 18 10 Most successful female diver in Olympic history
9 Shawn Johnson (US) 15 6 Three silvers and a gold; multiple near-misses
10 Tyson Gay (US) 4 -6 Shocking loss in semi of 100M
11 Nastia Liukin (US) 14 3 Moving up with steadily with her Gold, Silver and Bronze 
12 Cate Campbell (AUS) 23 11 Australian wunderkind up 11 spots
13 Leisel Jones (AUS) 17 4 Sets Olympic record in 100M breaststroke 
14 Ben Ainslie (UK) 16 2 Three golds for sailing
15 Yang Peiyi (Chi) 22 7 Pulled from Ode to the Nation just 15 minutes beforehand
16 Allyson Felix (US) 12 -4 Didn’t make through the 100M trials
17 Cheng Fei (Chi) 21 4 90 pounds and the heaviest Chinese gymnast
18 Liu Xiang (CHI) 7 -11 China’s first track gold medalist in 110M hurdles in Athens
19 Paula Radcliffe (UK) 3 -16 Disappointed UK fans for 2nd Olympic marathon 
20 Grant Hackett (AUS) 10 -10 Narrowly missed out on 3rd straight 1500M freestyle
21 Jana Rawlinson (AUS) 20 -1 World 400m hurdles champion withdraw due to injury
22 Jeremy Wariner (US) 11 -11 On track to 400m final
23 Jo Pavey (UK) 24 1 Unable to run  into medal contention in the 10000m final
24 Sanya Richards (US) 13 -11 Fastest qualifying time in the 400M
25 Libby Lenton (AUS) 19 -6 One of the Aussie Golden Girls

 

 

Olympic Global Sponsors vs. Ambush Marketers

 

GLM TrendTopper™ Analysis: Olympics Week 2 

 

 

 Mickey D surges to Top,

 

 J&J a strong No. 2,

 

 Visa up to No.3

 

 Lenovo strong, but Coke & Kodak fall

 

 

 

Austin, Texas, USA.   August 13, 2008.   In Week 2 of the GLM TrendTopper™ analysis of the performance of the Global Sponsors of the Beijing Summer Games McDonald’s (nyse:  MCD) topped the field, while Johnson & Johnson (nyse: JNJ) moved up three notches to No. 2, while Visa (nyse: V) was up one at No.3.  Lenovo (LNVGY), the PC maker, had a very strong performance, moving up six spots to No. 4.  

         

Forbes: Sponsors step up pace to get Olympic mileage 

 

 

Olympic Global Sponsors vs. Ambush Marketers         

       

On the negative side, Samsung (SSNFL) plunged from the top spot to No. 5; Coke (nyse: KO) fell from No.2 to No.7, while Kodak (nyse:  EK) settled in at No. 10, losing three.  The analysis was performed by the Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com), the media tracking agency.

 

 

 

Global Sponsors
 
Last
Rank
Change
 
With Ambushers
 
Last
Change
 
 
Survey
 
 
 
 
 
Survey
 
Rank
 
 
 
 
 
Rank
 
 
 
1
McDonald’s
3
3
2
 
1
McDonald’s
3
2
2
J&J
5
5
3
 
2
J&J
7
5
3
Visa
4
1
1
 
3
Amex
6
3
4
Lenovo
10
10
6
 
4
Visa
4
0
5
Samsung
1
1
-4
 
5
Nike 
5
0
6
Panasonic
9
9
3
 
6
Lenovo
14
8
7
Coca-Cola
2
2
-5
 
7
Samsung
1
-6
8
GE
6
6
-2
 
8
Panasonic
13
5
9
Omega
8
8
-1
 
9
Coca-Cola
2
-7
10
Kodak
7
7
-3
 
10
GE
9
-1
11
Atos Origin
12
12
1
 
11
Kung fu Panda
8
-3
12
Manulife
11
11
-1
 
12
Pepsi
10
-2
 
 
 
 
 
 
13
Omega
12
-1
 
 
 
 
 
 
14
Kodak
11
-3
 
 
 
 
 
 
15
Atos Origin
16
1
 
 
 
 
 
 
16
Manulife
15
-1

 

When included in the Survey with the Global Sponsors, American Express (nyse: AXP) and Nike (NKE) both stayed in the Top Five, with Amex moving up three positions to No. 3.  The DreamWorks Animation studio, which made “Kung Fu Panda”, and Pepsi (nyse: PEP), which owns Gatorade fell three and two spots respectively.

According to Paul JJ Payack, President, “The TrendTopper analysis suggests that McDonald’s has successfully capitalized on its blow-out kickoff event last week, while Samsung’s huge marketing push seems to have faltered in Week Two.  Johnson&Johnson was apparently correct in their analysis of their Olympic-themed ads having significantly greater recall.  And Lenovo seems to have done everything right this week, with a 50%+ increase in visibility.  At the same time, Kodak declined some 20%. On the ‘ambush marketing’ side, Amex’ visibility increased significantly and Nike remained quite strong besting nine of the twelve global sponsors.”

The Global Sponsors for the Beijing Games are:  General Electric (NBC Universal), Coca-Cola, Kodak, Samsung, Lenova, McDonalds, Omega, Visa, Johnson & Johnson, Panasonic, Manulife and Atos Origin.  The ambush marketers being tracked include American express, Nike, DreamWorks and their hit movie “Kung Fu Panda”, and Pepsi, which owns the Gatorade brand.

GLM uses proprietary algorithms to analyze how words and phrases (in this case brand names) are used globally in relationship to other words and phrases (in this case related to the Beijing Olympics) and how they perform against one another in order to determine rankings and other relevant outputs.  GLM will update the TrendTopper ranking each week during the Games.

 

 

GLM TrendTopper™ Analysis: Olympics Week 1

 

  • Samsung Vaults to Top,

  • Coke Close Second,

  • McDonald’s Moves Up to No. 3 

 

Ambush Marketers Move into Top Ten:  Nike, AMEX, Kung Fu Panda & Pepsi

Austin, Texas, USA.   August 10, 2008.   (Updated) In an exclusive GLM TrendTopper™ analysis of the performance of the Global Sponsors of the Beijing Summer Games found Samsung vaulting to the lead position of Beijing Field, Coca-Cola a close second, with McDonald’s moving up to the third position.  It also found that Visa stumbled out of the gate losing three positions, while Johnson & Johnson held steady at No. 5. General Electric (and its NBC Universal division) rebounded after losing the early lead position.  The analysis was performed by the Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com), a media tracking agency.

In a related finding, GLM found that four companies were perceived as Global Sponsors though they are not:  Nike, American Express, the DreamWorks Animation studio, which made “Kung Fu Panda”, and Pepsi, which owns Gatorade.  When added into the analysis, Nike moves to No.5, American Express at No.6, Kung Fu Panda (No. 8), and Pepsi (No.10) in the expanded field. 

According to Paul JJ Payack, President, “The TrendTopper analysis suggests that Samsung’s huge marketing push seems to be paying off, and though GE is very strong, and started the year at the top of the survey, it has very little marketing momentum as the games unfold.  Also, the non-global sponsor companies appear to be doing quite well off their ‘ties’ to the Beijing Games.”

The Global Sponsors for the Beijing Games are:  General Electric (NBC Universal), Coca-Cola, Kodak, Samsung, Lenova, McDonalds, Omega, Visa, Johnson & Johnson, Panasonic, Manulife and Atos Origin.

GLM uses proprietary algorithms to analyze how words and phrases (in this case brand names) are used globally in relationship to other words and phrases (in this case related to the Beijing Olympics) and how they perform against one another in order to determine rankings and other relevant outputs.  GLM will update the TrendTopper ranking each week during the Games.

The GLM TrendTopper Analysis with Non-sponsors included follows.

 

Rank

 

Change in Week

1

Samsung

3

2

Coca-Cola

0

3

McDonald’s

0

4

Visa

-3

NS

Nike

NS

NS

American Express

NS

5

J&J

0

NS

Kung fu Panda

NS

6

GE

4

NS

Pepsi

NS

7

Kodak

+2

8

Omega

-2

9

Panasonic

-1

10

Lenova

-3

11

Manulife

0

12

Atos Origin

0

 

For more information on the methodology, go here

 

For analysis details (including historical data and momentum), call 1.925.367.7557.

 

 

For the New York Times article, The Power of Words, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinglish

Will the Beijing Olympics Finally Eradicate Chinglish?

Is this the End to ‘Deformed-man Toilets’ and ‘Racist Parks’

We think not.

Austin, Texas, USA.   July 30, 2008.   MetaNewswire.  There has been much publicity about Beijing’s vaunted attempt to eradicate Chinglish before the 2008 Games begin.  Menus at the top hotels have been replaced with standardized, albeit less poetic, versions (no more ‘exploding shrimp’.)

And many of the city’s traffic signs have been tamed (no more signposts to the Garden with Curled Poo).  “We have worked out 4,624 pieces of standard English translations to substitute the Chinglish ones on signs around the city,” said Lu Jinlan, head of the organizing committee of the Beijing Speaks Foreign Languages Programme (BSFLP).

 

Is this really the end of Chinglish, that delightful admixture of Chinese and English?

Studies by the Global Language Monitor suggest that Chinglish will persist – and even thrive – far after the Games have ended.

Chinglish is the outgrowth of several convening forces, including:

·    the widespread acceptance of English as a Global Language

·    the fact that some 250 million Chinese are currently studying English as a second, auxiliary or business language

·    he astonishing complexity and richness of the Mandarin language

·    the English language vocabulary is approaching the million word mark

·    The Chinese people evidently enjoy wearing Chinglish on their clothing

Mandarin has more than 50,000 ideograms each of which can be used to represent any number of words.  In addition, Mandarin is a tonal language meaning that tonal variations in pronunciation can distinguish one word from another.  Therefore attempting to map a precise ideogram to any particular word in the million-word English lexicon is a nearly impossible task.

The difficulty is further evidenced on the official Olympic website of the Beijing Olympic Games,http://en.beijing2008.cn, where it states that “we share the charm and joy of the Olympic Games”.  Hundreds of scholars have proofed the site and decided that the word charm is most appropriate in describing the Games.  In past Olympiads words such as ‘power’, ‘pride,’ ‘heroic,’ ‘majesty,’ ‘triumph,’ and, even, ‘tragedy’ frequently have been used to described the Olympic movement but the word ‘charm’ has largely been ignored.   Charm has a number of meanings including the ‘individuating property of quarks and other elementary particles’.  In this case, we assume the authorities were using the definition of charm as a transitive verb:  to attract or please greatly; enchant; allure; fascinate, or delight.

Finally, there is the on-going cross-pollination between English and Mandarin, with Chinglish at the epicenter of the movement.  Recently, the Ministry of Education (MOE) accepted some 171 neologisms into the Chinese language.   Words were considered only after they passed the scrutiny of a dozen scholars associated with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) Institute of Linguistics.  These included a new ideogram for ‘brokeback,’ a word popularized from the banned movie Brokeback Mountain to indicate ‘gay’.

You will find brokeback in few English-language dictionaries, but it already has been accepted into the Chinese.  Words passed over for formal entry, which despite their frequency of use were deemed inappropriate included:  “cool”, “zip it”, 3Q for “thank you” and “kick your ass”.

Recently, the Global Language Monitor listed its all-time favorite Chinglish words and phrases.  These included:

·         Deformed man toilet (handicapped restroom)

·         Airline Pulp (food served aboard airlines – no explanation necessary

·         The slippery are very crafty (slippery when wet)

·         If you are stolen, call the police

·         Do not climb the rocketry (rock wall)

Chinglish Adds Flavor to Alphabet Soup

 

2/19/2008 (China Daily) — San Diego-based consultancy group - Global Language Monitor claims Chinglish is adding the most spice to the alphabet soup of today’s English by contributing more words than any other single source to the global language.

And the more Chinese I learn, the more appetizing this seems.

Subscribing to the Elizabethan definition of a word as “a thing spoken and understood”, GLM is using a predictive quantities indicator (PQI) to scan the Web for emergent English words and track their mainstream use over time.

As GLM president Paul JJ Payack says: “Language colors the way you think. Thinking in Chinese is completely different.”

And every day that I learn more Chinese, the more vibrant this coloration becomes in my mind. This is mostly because of the descriptive nature of the language, in which many words are created by mixing and matching diasylobolic words to create new diasylobolic words.

Generally speaking, English is more definitional, so its words are more terminological than descriptive. For example, a “spider” is a spider - the word in itself tells you nothing about what it represents. But the Chinese word for spider (zhizhu) literally translates as “clever insect” - a description it earns in Chinese by spinning intricate webs to ensnare prey.

In Chinese, you don’t ride a bike, bus or train; you instead respectively ride a (zixinche) “self-walk vehicle”, a (gonggongqiche) “public all-together gas vehicle” or a (huoche) “fire vehicle”.

A massage is a (anmo) “press and touch”. A pimple is a (qingdou) “youth bean”. Investing is to (touzi) “throw funds”. And when you don’t make your money back, the disappointment is conveyed directly as (saoxing) “sweep interest”.

While linguists ballyhoo English’s capacity for specificity, this has in some ways become its weakness, as the definitional often trumps the descriptive, with wonderful exceptions, such as “rainbow”. But that’s where the other widely vaunted strength of the language - its capacity to ravenously gobble up other languages’ words - could become a beautiful thing. And I’m glad to know the English language is developing a growing taste for Chinese food.

In the 1960s, there were about 250 million English speakers, mostly from the United States, the United Kingdom and their former colonies.

Today, the same number of Chinese possesses some command of the language, and that number is growing. One possibility is the plethora of localized “lishes”, such as Chinglish, Hinglish (a Hindi-English hybrid) and Spanglish (an English-Spanish hybrid) could branch so far from English, they become mutually unintelligible tongues sharing a common root, much as Latin did in Medieval Europe.

Many linguists agree that if the lishes splinter, Chinglish will likely become the most prominent offshoot by virtue of sheer numbers, giving Chinese primary ownership of the language.

Perhaps then, English could become more beautiful than I could now describe - at least with its currently existing words. (Contributed by China Daily)

The Million Word March. Fueled by Chinglish?

No Noising’ and ‘Airline Pulp’ named Top Chinglish Words

San Diego, Calif. November 22, 2006. ‘No Noising’ and ‘Airline Pulp’ have been named the Top Chinglish Words of 2006 in The Global Language Monitor’s annual survey of the Chinese-English hybrid words known more commonly as Chinglish. Though often viewed with amusement by the rest of the English-speaking world, The Chinglish phenomenon is one of the prime drivers of Globalization of the English Language.

The Annual Survey by the Global Language Monitor

The importance of Chinglish is the fact that some 250,000,000 Chinese are now studying, or have studied, English and their impact (and imprint) upon the language cannot be denied,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and The WordMan of the Global Language Monitor. “Since each Chinese ideogram can have many meanings and interpretations, translating ideas into English is, indeed, difficult. Nevertheless, the abundance of new words and phrases, unlikely as this may seem, can and will impact Global English as it evolves through the twenty-first century”.

With the English Language marching steadily toward the 1,000,000 word mark, there are now some 1.3 billion speakers with English as their native, second, business or technical tongue. In 1960, the number of English Speakers hovered around 250,000,000 mainly located in the UK and its Commonwealth of former colonies, and the US.

Some scholars maintain that you cannot actually count the number of words in the language because it is impossible to say exactly what a word is, talking rather of memes and other linguistic constructs, are afraid that Global English is just another form of cultural Imperialism. GLM take the classic view of the language as understood in Elisabethan England, where a word was ‘a thing spoken’ or an ‘idea spoken’.

Others say that English is undergoing a rebirth unlike any seen since the time of Shakespeare, when English was emerging as the modern tongue known to us today. (Shakespeare, himself, added about 1700 words to the Codex.) English has emerged as the lingua franca of the planet, the primary communications vehicle of the Internet, high technology, international commerce, entertainment, and the like.

Chinglish is just one of a number of the -Lishes, such as Hinglish (Hindu-English hydrid) and Singlish, that found in Singapore. A language can best be view as a living entity, where it grows just like any other living thing and is shaped by the environment in which it lives. With the continuing emergence of China on the world stage — and with the Olympics coming to Beijing in 2008, the state is now attempting to stamp-out some of the more egregious examples of Chinglish.

In its annual survey the Global Language Monitor has selected from hundreds of nominees, the top Chinglish words and Phrases of 2006.

The Top Chinglish Words and Phrases of 2006 follow:

1. “No Noising”. Translated as “quiet please!”

2. “Airline pulp.” Food served aboard an airliner.

3. “Jumping umbrella”. A hang-glider.

4. “Question Authority”. Information Booth.

5. “Burnt meat biscuit.” No it’s not something to enjoy from the North of England but what is claimed to be bread dipped in a savory meat sauce.

Bonus: GLM’s all-time favorite from previous surveys: “The Slippery are very crafty”. Translation: Slippery when wet!

Independent News (London): Chinglish Phrases on the Rise

People’s Daily (China): Global Language Monitor: Many Chinglish into English

The Sunday Times (London): Chinglish: It’s a word in a million

Click here to add your thoughts to the China Daily Online Translation Community

Chinese Translation Exam Features GLM (Section 7)

Chinglish one of the Top Words of 2005

Read More.

Click here to Read and Listen to the Chinese Radio Int’l (CRI) Report



click tracking


Pope John Paul II

Unprecedented Global Media Outpouring in Coverage of Pope John Paul II’s Passing

Record Media Outpouring: 12 Million Internet Citations and 100,000 Stories in Worldwide Media

Eclipses the South Asian Tsunami, the September 11 Terrorist Attacks, the Bush Re-election, and the Deaths of Ronald Reagan and Princess Diana

Danville, Calif. April 14, 2005. The Death of Pope John Paul II has unleashed an unprecedented global media outpouring that has transformed from a groundswell into a deluge. The Global Language Monitors daily Internet and media analysis now shows that in the major global print and electronic media and on the Internet, John Paul II’s death has surpassed the initial coverage of the South Asian Tsunami, the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, the Bush re-election, and the Deaths of Ronald Reagan and Princess Diana, among other events that shook the world.

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border=0> Since days since the Pontiffs death, there have been some 100,000 major news stories and more than 12 million Internet citations. In comparison, for the entire preceding year there were only 28,000 new stories and 1.5 million Internet citations about John Paul II.

The word historic is associated with the pontiff nearly 3,000,000 times, while conservative is associated some 1,750,000 times, and loved or beloved some 600,000 times since John Paul’s passing.

Within the first 72 hours of the Pontiff’s passing, there have been:

  • Almost 3 times as many news stories for John Paul as there were for the 9/11 Terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001, though in the major global media the comparison was far closer. Some ten times more news stores than were published concerning the re-election of President Bush.

In addition, within the first 72 hours of the Pontiff’s passing, there have been:

  • More than five times as many stories as initially generated for the South Asia Tsunami on December 26-29th, 2004 (though the Tsunami swell grew unabated for some time, as the horrific scale of the tragedy became apparent).

According to Paul JJ Payack, President of The Global Language Monitor, “Other relevant comparisons might be the deaths of Ronald Reagan in 2004 and Princess Diana in 1997. These also, were populist-type phenomena with unprecedented outpourings of grief, though on a far more localized scale.

Perhaps the root of this phenomenon lies in the fact that ordinary people came to be acquainted with this Pope unlike any other in memory. He was personable, globetrotting, at his best as a friendly parish priest, ‘writ large’. He was a truly global Pontiff, adept at using the traditional media (and the internet) to his advantage. Evidently, on his instructions, the media was even notified of his passing via text messages and e-mail.”

To arrive at these numbers, The Global Language Monitor utilizes its proprietary Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI), which tracks specified words and phrases in the global print and electronic media and on the Internet. The words and phrases are tracked in relation to their frequency, contextual usage and appearance.

The Global Language Monitor analyzes and catalogues the latest trends in word usage and word choices, and their impact on the various aspects of culture. A worldwide assemblage of linguists, professional wordsmiths and bibliophiles, supports the GLM to help monitor the latest trends in the evolution (and demise) of language, word usage and word choices.

Read: Web Flood With Pope Coverage (CNN)

Read: Pope’s Death Spurs 35,000 Stories in a Day (BusinessWeek)

Read: Basketball Attracts More Viewers Than Pope’s Death (Reuters)

Listen: The First ‘Truly Global’ Pope (Radio Renaissance: Portugal)

Listen: The Biggest Story — Ever? (The World: NPR/BBC)

Top Words to Look for at Papal Conclave

Obscure Phrases Can Have Tremendous Impact

Interregnum, Conclave, Popables

Danville, Calif. April 18, 2005. As the Papal Conclave convenes there are sometimes obscure words and phrases that will have tremendous global impact as the process unfolds. According to an analysis performed by The Global Language Monitor, these are some of the top words and phrases to look for:

1. Interregnum: The times when there is no sitting pontiff between the death of a pope and the election of his successor.

2. Conclave: Literally from the Latin for with a key meaning a secret room or closet. Hence, the secret assembly of the cardinals for the election of a new pope.

3. Pope: Whats a Pope? Literally, the Dad or the Holy Father, hence papa in the Romance Languages. Originally, pappas in Greek.

4. Pontiff: Pontifex maximus! Leader of the Holy See; the Office of the Papacy is known as the Pontificate. From the Latin from to make a bridge, whose meaning, though a bit obscure, meant to have control of one of the bridges considered sacred in Rome during pre-Christian days.

5. Sede vacante: The Pontificate is currently a vacant seat.

6. Cardinal: A Prince of the Church, originally subordinate to bishops, which is opposite the current custom. From the Latin for door hinge, as in a key element upon which something else depends.

7. College of Cardinals: The Sacred College, all the 117 Princes of the Church taken as a whole. The original Latin collegium refers to a guild, or a secret society.

8. Color of a Cardinals Vestments: Cardinal, of course, between scarlet and crimson.

9. Eminence: The proper manner to address a Cardinal: Eminentia or Eminentissimi (His Eminence).

10. Official Vatican Language: Latin.

11. The Official Lingua Franca: Italian with English quickly up-and-coming.

12. Languages of the Vatican Website: Italian, English, Spanish, German, and Portuguese

13. Popables: Those cardinals eligible to elect the new pope, who must be under 80 years of age. Although any Catholic male is eligible to be elected, these 117 are considered the only likely candidates (since the last time a non-cardinal assumed the papacy was some 400 years ago.

Is the Language of Christ is Dying?

Overview of Aramaic Linguistics

Aramaic: The Language of Christ

Aramaic Language Resources (University of Washington)

Latin and Other Writing Systems of ANTIQUITY

Latin Language Resources

The Bible in Latin (The Vulgate) University of Chicago

Writing Systems of Antiquity

The Bible in Masoretic Hebrew 8th - 9th C. B.C,

2004 Presidential Election

How the 2004 Presidential Election Impacted the Way Americans Speak

Danville, California (November 11, 2004) MetaNewsWire The recently concluded Presidential Election of 2004 has significantly impacted the manner in which Americans communicate with each other and not always in a positive way. For the eight months leading up to the Election, the Global Language Monitor (GLM) has tracked the way Americans communicate with each other about politics. To do this, GLM created its exclusive PQ Index (Political-sensitivity Quotient), a proprietary algorithm that tracks politically sensitive words and phrases in the print, electronic media and the Internet. Some forty words and phrases were analyzed for the Post-Election Survey, including flip flop/flopping, quagmire, Fahrenheit 911, liar!, and misleader.

The PQ Index is perhaps the most in-depth, algorithmic analysis of political word usage ever attempted during a US Presidential campaign. After meeting certain threshold criteria, the index measured how frequently the words and phrases were used in their given political contexts. Then were then tracked on a bi-weekly basis, with greater weight provided for appearances in the major media. Additionally, greater weight was assigned to changes in frequency of appearance the closer the survey came to the election, itself.

Perhaps the one point of agreement by both Republicans and Democrats in the immediate aftermath of the campaign was that moral values played a vastly more important role than had hitherto been estimated. This was re-enforced by the exit polls conducted by Edison Media Research with Mitofsky International for the National Election Pool, which distributed their information to the media through the Associated Press.

The PQ Index picked up this trend months earlier, when issues related to moral values would surface and then, actually, gain in strength as the campaign progressed. By the end of the campaign, these moral values-related words and phrases dominated the pre-Election PQ Index (Political-sensitivity Quotient) of Hot Political Buzzwords released on November 1. Specifically, thirteen or more of the top 20 words and phrases that dominated the media in the run-up to the election, can be classified as directly related to the moral values.

website hit counterBoth the major parties and the mainstream media appear to be surprised at the primacy of the moral values issue atop the exit-poll surveys, though they have used the terms tracked in the PQ Index some hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of times in the preceding month. What led to this miss was that fact that the moral values question was narrowly interpreted to mean the gay marriage and the Mary Cheney incident. (Both Kerry and Edwards cited the sexuality of the vice presidents daughter, Mary Cheney in their debates, a move widely viewed in the subsequent polls as gratuitous.)

In fact, the idea of moral values includes media bias, flip flopping for political gain, the question of a just or unjust war, the disrespecting of a wartime president (as in Fahrenheit 911), tagging the Chief Executive as a Liar or misleader and the rise of the uncivil war in political discourse / dis-coarse. In fact, The Top Five terms in the November PQ Index can all be viewed as related to moral values, as can be seven of the Top Ten — and 13 of the Top Twenty.

Another factor has been the rampant incivility be found in the political discourse in American politics which has reached unprecedented heights or, rather, lows. It can be argued that not since the Civil War era, when President Lincoln was frequently depicted by adversaries as a gangly, gaping baboon, has the discourse sunken to such a profane level. In fact, such is the decline in the political discourse during this campaign that future historians might actually wonder if the battle being fought was between the “Blue States” and the “Red States” rather than between the forces of Terrorism and The West.

This phenomenon is also related to the “Myth of the 24-Hour News Cycle,” where it is argued that once a politically-sensitive buzzword is launched into todays media world, it seems to persist for an indeterminate period, building a kind of media momentum and extending the news cycle rather than shrinking it. This persistence seems at odds with the general perception of the media being fixated on the 24 hours news cycle.

Some of the key words and phrases that have gained visibility during the 2004 Presidential Election follow.

Colossal Error: Kerrys judgment on Bushs Iraq policy. Evidently following California Olive Growers Association Guidelines for measuring the size of olives — Large, Extra Large, Jumbo, Gigantic, Colossal and Super Colossal. This leaves wiggle room for a ‘super-colossal error’.

Flip Flop/Flopping: Formerly referred to gymnastic routines, pancakes, and dolphin acts (Flipper); now a mainstream political term.

Girlie Men: His Honor, the Governator’s, characterization of political opponents.

Global Test: Kerrys description of the bar he would set before committing the US to pre-emptive strikes

Incuriosity: The campaign season with the President being labeled as Incurious George.

Jobless Recovery: A catch=phrase belied by the creation of 2.1 million new jobs in 2004.

Liars!: Signifies the virulence of the name-calling between opponent supporters. Bush wins the ‘Liar Poll with a 2:1 lead over Kerry.

Liberal: Now looked upon as a pejorative; for future reference, please use progressive.

Mary Cheney: For better or for worse, now a household name used in more than 100,000 media citations in the preceding six weeks..

Media Bias: A contentious issue, especially when used in conjunction with the Dan Rather “60 Minutes” imbroglio.

Misleader: MoveOn.org started this all by calling the sitting president a ‘misleader’.

Moral Values: Currently in more than 4,000 media stories; widely varies in interpretation.

Political Incivility: A catch-all category for various rude directives — Cheney, Heinz-Kerry, et al. combined here.

Quagmire: A fading, Viet Nam-era term rescued from obscurity.

Red States/Blue States: Before November 2, 2004, a relatively unknown term, a shorthand used by political pundits, describing Republican-leaning states vs. Democrat-leaning states.

Rush-to-War: The short-hand by Administration opponents for the run-up to the Iraq war.

Swift Boats: Might have torpedoed Kerrys presidential aspirations. Actually, Fast Patrol Craft (PCF), small, shallow draft-water vessels operated by the United States Navy for counterinsurgency (COIN) operations during the Vietnam War.

Two Americas: John Edwards frequent of America as divided between rich and poor, the jobless and the employed, liberals (err, progressives) and conservatives.

 — Paul JJ Payack

Myth of 24-hour News Cycle:

  • Directly Impacts

  • (and Undermines) the 2004 Presidential Campaign

October Surprise Short-lived Compared to August Surprise

Danville, California (October 19, 2004) Though it is commonly assumed that the media is now on a 24-hour news cycle, the opposite appears to be true, according to an exclusive analysis of The Global Language Monitor’s PQ Index (Political-sensitivity Quotient). Though the day-to-day headlines of the 2004 Presidential Campaign are relatively transient, the ideas encapsulated in the political buzzwords that GLM tracks take several months to cycle through the electronic and print media, the internet, and cyberspace, particularly the blogosphere.

Once a ‘politically-sensitive’ buzzword is launched into today’s media world, it seems to persist for an indeterminate period, building a kind of ‘media momentum’ and extending the news cycle rather than shrinking it. This persistence seems at odds with the general perception of the media being fixated on the ’24 hours news cycle’.

The PQ Index (Political-sensitivity Quotient) released monthly by The Global Language Monitor is a proprietary algorithm that tracks politically sensitive words and phrases in the media and on the Internet.

A current example: the PQ Index has been the tracking the “Swift Boats” issue for over six months as shown in Figures 1 and 2. Though it peaked in the last few weeks at No. 1 in the August Tracking Index with the release of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads, it remains strongly entrenched in the Top Ten in the October survey. The evidence suggests that the issue will persist for some time to come; definitely through November 2nd.

Another example might be the labeling of President Bush as a Liar. This first surfaced in early spring as a result of ads launched by 527 organizations, such as MoveOn.org, in an action without precedent in the mainstream media, boldly labeling the sitting president a Liar. This was an early version of this years attack ads that would proliferate throughout the year, and was little noticed by the mainstream media at the time, except as a curiosity.

The ads, however, proved to be harbingers of what was to follow. Over the course of the next six months the label stuck, increasingly resonating especially on the Internet and in the blogosphere. This month the term sits at No. 11 on the PQ Index, down from No. 4 in August. In fact, Bush as Liar! is up some 1400% since the beginning of the year. An additional wrinkle is that Kerry, too, is now being labeled as a Liar! by his critics with nearly 40% of the references tracked by the PQ Index labeling the Democratic nominee as such.

Another example is the Dead and Done Presidents phenomenon. With the passing of Ronald Reagan in June and the much-anticipated publication of Bill Clintons autobiography the next month, these two former presidents, leapt to the top of the PQ Index in June and July respectively. In the October Index, they both still rank in the Top Twenty demonstrating the persistence of their long-shadows over the current campaign.

Fahrenheit, representing Michael Moores controversial film, Fahrenheit 451, took the top ranking in the July PQ Index, jumping some 400% from the previous month. Fahrenheit maintained its No. 1 position in August and currently ranks as No. 6 in the October Index. Mr. Moore, more than most, seems to have appreciated the new “Surprise” phenomenon, though for maximum impact he might have, in retrospect, released his film a month later, in August rather than July.

And now, in what could be a sign of mounting difficulties for the Democratic Presidential Campaign, this months top political buzzwords (including ‘Dan Rather-related Bias, ‘Liberal,’ Global Test,’ ‘Flip flop/flopping’ and Swift Boats) are creating an inhospitable climate, in many cases overshadowing the key messages of the Democratic Nominee, according to the October PQ Index.

In the October PQ Index, Swift Boats is actually getting more media hits and citations than all otherkey Kerry messages combined. These messages include; “Two Americas,” “Bush the Misleader,” “jobless recovery,” and “global outsourcing”.

With weeks remaining in the Campaign, there is a very real danger that Kerrys key messages will continue to be swamped by the “flip flop,” “Swift Boat” and “Rathergate” (and now the Mary Cheney) issues.

This is not to say that an October Surprise is not possible. Based on recent history and the uncertainty associated with al Qaeda it would be wise to expect any number of such events. However, the importance of the August Surprise with its attendant , momentum-building sustainability, should not be overlooked by current, or future, campaigns.

 — Analysis by Paul JJ Payack

Political Buzz Issues Live Longer on the Net 

Read More:

A Sound Bite is Born: Tracking Politically Sensitive Words in These Politically Sensitive Times (San Diego CityBeat)

Incurious George — Has the President a New Title (Reuters)

Another Obscure 16th C. Word Disinterred (UK)

Incurious in China (Taiwan)

Flashback: Don’t Misunderestimate Dubya!

Misunderestimate on National Public Radio’s (NPR): Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!

ArnoldSpeak Has California Crowds Listening! (Reuters)

Chad Blocking the Road to the White House (CNN)

Presi dential Debates Score at Grade School Level

San Fransisco Chronicle on Chads and Their Aftermath

Names

Names

The Top Names of 2007 with commentary follow.

1. Al Gore – Conveniently, doesn’t need the presidency to top the list.

2. The Decider — George W. Bush, still president after all these years.

3. Bono – U2’s front man out in front on Third World debt relief.

4. Obama & Hillary — Barack’s name now qualifies as a buzzword; quite unusual, though Hil comes close.

5. Hugo Chavez – The Gadfly of Latin America.

6. Vladimir Putin — The supreme leader (President, Prime Minister, whatever) of the Russian Federation.

7. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — Iranian President suggests moving Israel to Europe.

8. Pope Benedict XVI — continues to engage Muslim leadership in thoughtful discussions.

9. David Beckham and Posh Spice – Yet another ‘new’ type of Hollywood power couple.

10. Fidel Castro – The head one of the few remaining Communist states lives yet another year.

The Top Ten Names for 2006 with commentary follow.

1. Darfur – First time a country or region heads the list.
2. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – Unfettered President of Iran.

3. Bono – Quintessential rock star, front man for the band U2, turned humanitarian.

4. George Bush – Received an old fashioned ‘whuppin’ in the mid-Term elections; still attempting to turn the tide in his last 24 months in office.

5. Kofi Annan – Departing head of the UN, both revered and reviled.

6. Joseph Ratzinger – Pope Benedict XVI turned Muslim heads by quoting a Renaissance scholar with a less than favorable opinion of Islam.

7. Brangelina – Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as a new type of Hollywood power couple.

8. Saddam Hussein – Hanging marks the end of one of the most brutal dictatorships in recent memory.

9. Fidel Castro – Still lives on as the head of one of the few remaining Communist states, some fifty years after the Cuban Revolution.

10. Hugo Chávez – Expressed less than favorable opinion of President Bush at the UN.

The Top Names for 2005

1. (Acts of) God: The world watches helplessly as a superpower is humbled as one of its great cities (New Orleans) is laid asunder (Hurricane Katrina).

2. Tsunami snuffs out nearly 300,000 lives, and an earthquake takes another 200,000 (Kashmir). A Higher Power, indeed.

3. Katrina: Greek (katharos) for ‘pure’. Before the hurricane, the name was most famously borne by two saints, Empress Catherine the Great of Russia, and three of Henry VIII’s wives.

Read More About the Top Words of 2006

The Real Meaning of the Name of the TomKitten

Washington Post: Cruise baby name has many meanings, expert says

Friday, April 21, 2006

LOS ANGELES — It’s a Nubian tribe, the word for “rose” in Persian, the “sun” in Sanskrit and, oh yes, it’s also an obscure variation on the Hebrew name Sarah and refers to form of an Alpaca’s wool.

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes may have gotten more than they bargained for naming their daughter Suri when she was born on Tuesday, according to language expert Paul JJ Payack, head of the Global Language Monitor, a group that studies word use.
Payack said he found at least five meanings for Suri, including the name of a Nubian tribe on the Sudanese-Ethopian border. The tribe is known for the ceremonial clay plate inserted into the lower lip of Suri girls after their lower teeth have been extracted.

Suri also refers to the sun in Sanskrit, an ancient Indo-European language in which the word’s meaning sometimes is translated as “lord” or “ruler.”

Moreover, Suri is the name for the wool of the Andean Alpaca.

In Persian, it means rose, though not necessarily a red rose, as Cruise and Holmes said through their spokesman when the birth was announced.

Payack said Suri was also a relatively rare variation of the biblical name Sarah, which means “lady” or “princess.”

Combined with the child’s last name, which in English means to move or go along, especially in an unhurried or unconcerned fashion, Payack added that Suri Cruise could translate to: “The ruling Nubian sun princess unhurriedly moving along wearing a rose-colored blanket.” (Reuters)

Top Baby Names in the US by Year

Celebrity Children’s Names:

  • Apple (daughter of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin)
  • Audio Science (son of Shannyn Sossaman)
  • Fifi Trixabelle (daughter of Bob Geldof)
  • Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily (daughter of Michael Hutchence)
  • Jermajesty (son of Jermaine Jackson)
  • Moon Unit (daughter of Frank Zappa)
  • Phinnaeus (son of Julia Roberts)
  • Pilot Inspektor (son of Jason Lee)
  • Prince Michael (son of Michael Jackson)
  • Puma (daughter of Erykah Badu)
  • Rumer Glenn (daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis)
  • Sage Moonblood (son of Sylvester Stallone)
  • Speck Wildhorse (son of John Mellencamp)
  • Tu (daughter of Rob Morrow)

What Does Your Name Mean? Click Here for the Etymology and History of First Names

What’s in a name? On Mars, most anything (How Geographic Features on Red Planet are named)

What to find a Geographic Name Anywhere on the Globe?

Click for The National Geospatial Intelligence Database

What to Name a Gene: Here Are the Guidelines!

The Best, Worst and Weirdest Car Names

Automotive News Europe:

What Was Volkswagon Thinking? Touareg name misgivings

Is Touareg a bad name for Volkswagen’s new sport-utility?
The language experts associated with US-based website yourdictionary.com certainly seem to think so. VW probably believed the Touareg name would conjure up visions of a harsh breed of people with the ability to survive in an inhospitable environment. The perfect image for a rough-and-tumble off-roader. But in fact, “Touareg implies political rebellion by a stateless, Kurd-like tribe whose name literally means ‘abandoned by God,’ ” said Paul Payack, President of yourDictionary.com (and The Global Language Monitor).

Twenty-six leading global linguists with input from 700,000 web visitors (per month) help put together the yourDictionary.com website.

Accenture: One of the Worst Corporate Names

CORPORATE NAME GAMES A TRICKY ISSUE by Ron Carter, Columbus Dispatch

When the area’s dominant department-store chain became Lazarus-Macy’s last month, it didn’t seem to matter that the Lazarus name had done fine on its own for more than 150 years.

For perspective, that dates the chain’s launch in central Ohio to the days of Millard Fillmore, a president from upstate New York who grew up in a log cabin. By comparison, Fillmore bios run pretty short; Lazarus fared much better. Still, the extra moniker was hitched on with the stroke of a corporate wish. Most believe this is just a small step until parent Federated Department Stores makes the switch to Macy’s entirely. So it goes during a time when corporate names vanish as quickly as Andersen Consulting can become Accenture.

The trend is surprising, given that experts talk endlessly about “brand equity,” which is a fancy way of saying there is a lot of value in a name such as Coca-Cola. It makes you wonder: What has happened to the value of a name? “I think a lot of companies don’t consider the ramifications of walking away from an established brand,” said Shel Horowitz, author of Principled Profit, Marketing that Puts People First. “In general, it’s not a smart move in a lot of cases.”

Federated’s situation is a little different, considering that if the Lazarus name is dropped it means the company will be switching to one of the best-known names in retailing. Even so, Horowitz said such a change could send an unexpected signal.

National brands work differently than regional brands,” he said. “A national brand represents power, but also sameness. Local brands are built more on knowing your customer.” Maybe so. But it’s a new world for anyone selling goods to the public.

Competition is more fierce than ever. This means companies are squeezing everything possible from branding decisions, said Paul JJ Payack, president of yourDictionary.com and The Global Language Monitor, online companies that follows the corporate landscape from a linguistic point of view, including the publishing an annual list of the worst name changes.

“This has a real financial component,” Payack said. “If after doing quantitative analysis a company finds that people are willing to spend 8 percent more when shopping at Macy’s than at Lazarus because of perception, that’s very important. “When people turn on the Thanksgiving Day Parade, it’s not the Lazarus Parade.”

A recent letter writer to The Dispatch said she is starting to grieve already for the day when the Lazarus names disappears from the central Ohio landscape. At least there is no worry that the stores will have to bear the kind of contrived name, such as Qwest or Verizon, that has become fashionable in today’s corporate scramble.

Some believe this trend stems from having too many consultants and focus groups running around. “I think some of these companies,” Horowitz said, “hired some highly paid marketing consultant and they don’t think they are getting their money’s worth unless they follow their advice.”

High Tech

‘Global Study: Top 10 Most Confusing (yet widely used) High Tech Buzzwords for 2008

Cloud Computing, Green Washing and Buzzword Compliant

Austin Texas November 20, 2008 — In its third annual Internet and media analysis, The Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com) has found the most confusing yet frequently cited high tech buzzwords of 2008 to be cloud computing, green washing, and buzzword compliant followed by resonate, de-duping, and virtualization.  Rounding out the Top Ten were Web 2.0, versioning, word clouds, and petaflop. The most confusing Acronym for 2008 was SaaS (software as a service).

Paul JJ Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor, said “The words we use in high technology continue to become even more obtuse even as they move out of the realm of jargon and into the language at large.”

The Most Confusing Yet Frequently Cited High Tech Words of 2008 with Commentary follow:

· Cloud Computing – Distributing or accessing programs and services across the Internet. (The Internet is represented as a cloud.)

· Green washing – Repositioning your product so that its shortfalls are now positioned as environmental benefits: Not enough power? Just re-position as energy-saving.

· Buzzword Compliant — Including the latest buzzwords in literature about a product or service in order to make it ‘resonate’ with the customer.

· Resonate – Not the tendency of a system to oscillate at maximum amplitude, but the ability to relate to (or resonate with) a customer’s desires.

· De-duping – shorthand for de-duplication, that is, removing redundant data from a system.

· Virtualization – Around since dinosaurs walked the planet (the late ‘70s) virtualization now applies to everything from infrastructures to I/O.

· Web 2.0 – Now there’s talk of Web 3.0, just when we were finally getting used to Web 2.0.

· Versioning – Creating new revisions (or versions) with fewer bugs and more features.

· Word Clouds – Graphic representations of the words used in a text, the more frequently used, the larger the representation.

· Petaflop – A thousand trillion (or quadrillion) floating point operations per second Often mistaken as a comment on the environmental group.

The Most Confusing Yet Frequently Cited Acronym for 2008: SaaS — software-as-as-service to be differentiated, of course, from PaaS (platforms as a service) and IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-service).

Others words under consideration include the ever popular yet amorphous ‘solution’, 3G and SEO.

In 2007 IPOD, Flash, Cookie, Nano and Cookie lead the list with SOA as the most confusing acronym

In 2005, HTTP, VoIP, Megapixel, Plasma, & WORM were the leading buzzwords.

The analysis was completed using GLM’s Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI), the proprietary algorithm that tracks words and phrases in the media and on the Internet. The words are tracked in relation to frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets. This analysis was performed earlier this month.

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Top 10 Most Confusing (yet widely used) High Tech Buzzwords for 2007

iPod, Flash, Cookie, Nano and Kernel lead list; SOA most confusing acronym

.

San Diego, Calif. and Henderson, NV October 16, 2007. In a worldwide internet and media analysis, The Global Language Monitor has found the most confusing yet frequently cited high tech buzzwords in 2007 to be iPOD, Flash, Cookie, Nano and Kernel followed by Megahertz, Cell (cell as in cell phone), Plasma, De-duplication, and Blu-Ray.

To see the Video Announcement, Click on Herr (mega)Hertz.

The study was released earlier today, on the 13th anniversary of the ‘cookie,’ the invention that made the World Wide Web practical for widespread surfing, communication, and e-commerce.

Paul JJ Payack, President of the Global Language Monitor, said “Educational metrics such as the Flesch Test would place a typical paragraph using these words at the Third-grade reading-level.  At the same time, most college graduates, even from the most prestigious engineering schools such as MIT, Stanford, and CalTech would be challenged to precisely define all ten.  Once again, the High Tech industry has failed its basic language proficiency test.”

The analysis was completed using GLM’s Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI), the proprietary algorithm that tracks words and phrases in the media and on the Internet.  The words are tracked in relation to frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets.  This analysis was performed in earlier this month.

The Most Confusing Yet Frequently Cited High Tech Words of 2007 with Commentary follow:

1.  iPOD:  We all know the brand, but what exactly is a ‘pod’?  A gathering of marine mammals?  The encasement for peas?  The evacuation module from 2001: A Space Odyssey?

2.  Flash:  As in Flash Memory.  Given it is easier to say than “ I brought the report on my EEPROM chip with a thin oxide layer separating a floating gate and control gate utilizing Fowler-Nordheim electron tunneling”.

3.  Nano:  Widely used to describe any small as in nanotechnology.   Like the word ‘mini’ which originally referred to the red hues in Italian miniature paintings, the word nano- is ultimately derived from the ancient Greek word for dwarf.

4.  Cookie:  Without cookies with their ‘persistent state’ management mechanism the web as we know it, would cease to exist.

5.  Kernel:  The core layer of a computer operating system serving as a connection to the underlying hardware. Ultimately derives from the Old English cyrnel, for corn.

6.  Megahertz MHz):  Named after German physicist Heinrich Hertz, signifying a million cycles per second in computer processor (and not clock) speed.  Next up:  GigaHertz (GHz) and TeraHertz (THz), one billion and one trillion cycles.

7.  Cell (as in Cell Phone):  Operating on the principle of cells, where communicate through low-power transceiver to cellular ‘towers’ up to 6 miles away (which is why you can connect to ground stations from airplanes at 35,000 feet).  The phone connects to the strongest signal which are then passed from tower to tower.

8.  Plasma (as in Plasma Television):  A top word in the last survey still confusing large-screen TV buyers.

9.  De-duplication:  One of the newer buzzwords meaning removing duplicated data from a storage device, as in ‘we’re in the process of de-duping the silo’.  Ouch!

10.  Blu-Ray (vs. HD DVD).  New technology for high capacity DVDs reminiscent of the VHS/Beta wars of the 1980s.

Most

Confusing Acronym:  SOA (Service-oriented Architecture);  IBM had to write a book to explain it!?
.

Other terms being tracked included terabyte, memory, core, and head crash.

Now you can watch Global Language Monitor on YouTube.

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Global Study: Top 10 Most Confusing (yet widely used) High Tech Buzzwords:

HTTP, Megapixel, Plasma, WORM and Emoticon Among Leaders

Danville, Calif. March 24, 2005. In a worldwide internet and media analysis, The Global Language Monitor found the most confusing yet frequently cited high tech buzzwords to be HTTP, Voice Over IP (VoIP), and Megapixel.  Closely following were Plasma, Robust, WORM and Emoticon.  The study was released earlier today.   “The high tech realm remains an incubator of great ideas and, at the same time, mass confusion.  The industry, with rare exception, has never mastered the basics of translating new products and services into everyday language: It is obvious that the High Tech industry has failed in its basic language proficiency test.”

The Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI) is a proprietary algorithm that trackswords and phrases in the media and on the Internet.  The words are tracked in relation to frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets.  This analysis was performed in early March of 2005.

The Most Confusing Yet Frequently Cited High Tech Words  with Commentary follow:

1.  HTTP HyperText Transfer Protocol is used for HTML (HyperText Markup Language) files. Not  to be confused with text on too much Starbucks.  More than 1 billion references to HTTP on the web alone.

2.  Voice Over IP   VoIP, (pronounced voip rhyming with Detroit).  Voice over Internet Protocol. Simply put:  web telephony.

3.  Megapixel A really big pixel.  No, one million pixels (thats a lotta pixels) OK, whats a pixel? Computer-ese for picture element.

4. Plasma As in Plasma TV.  Are we talking Red Cross Drives here?  Rather, a flat, lightweight surface covered with millions of tiny glass bubbles with a digitally controlled electric current flowing through it that causes the plasma inside the tiny bubbles to glow.

5.  Robust No one quite knows what this means, but its good for your product to demonstrate robustness.

6.  WORM A virus, right?  No, a Write Once, Read Many file system used for optical disk technology.

7.  Emoticon   A smiley with an emotional component (from emotional icon).  Now, whats a smiley?

8.  Best of breed   Not to be confused with the Westminster Dog Show.  A personalized  solution made of components from various manufacturers; a sort of high tech mix-and-match.

9.  Viral marketing Marketing that Freezes your computer?  Actually, a high tech marketing fad that theoretically results in a geometric progression of ones marketing message.  Sometimes stealth.   Always irritating.

10.  Data migration   Nothing to do with pre-historic mastodons or, even, global warming.  Its where the data in your present software programs can move to newer (or older) versions of the programs or, better yet, into competitive solutions without causing much of a fuss.  A highly unlikely result.

Other terms being tracked included client/server, solution, Paradigm, hypertext, backward compatible, best of breed, and the STUN protocol.

Read:   Buzzwords alienate a low-tech public (Knight-Ridder)

Read:   Top 10 Confusing Tech Buzzwords (Network World)

Read:   Nerdspeak Mostly Bafflegab (Toronto Globe and Mail)

The Infinity Symbol (the lemniscate)

Mathematical Symbols and Notation:  Earliest  Use

Mathematics as a Language

Computational Linguistics

Computer Language List

Read The WordMan on “How the Zero Was Discovered”

The Great Math Problems of the 20th Century

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The Dustbin of History, or How the Infinity Symbol Came into Existence

By Paul JJ Payack

John Wallis (1616-1703) possessed no knowledge of the mathematical arts at the age of fifteen, yet he later went on to become the Savilian professor of Geometry at Oxford, the friend and teacher of Isaac Newton (he was the first to charge that Leibnitz had stolen his ideas for the calculus), and a charter member of the Royal Society. Yet his place in the history of mathematical thought is, perhaps not unjustly, obscure (and oftentimes, simply, ignored). A list of his major formulations would serve, merely, as an esoteric series of footnotes to the said compilation, which would interest, it should be stated, rather few.

For example, Wallis discovered that, in all such operations, it was mass times velocity (mv) that was conserved and not, as it was widely held, merely velocity (v). However, he fell short of unsecreting the laws of motion (which Newton would later publish). He also, at one time, theorized “that for the purposes of calculation, the earth and moon can be treated as a single body, concentrated at their center of gravity …” but stopped short far short of formulating the basis for the Laws of Universal Gravitation.

It can also be noted that Newton borrowed his system of fluxional notation (in which the fluent of was represented by , and the fluent by and so on) yet this, too, was swept into the dustbin of history when it was later replaced by that system developed by Leibnitz. His significant work still owed a heavy debt to the Greeks and the most notable of these was Arithmatica Infinitorum sive Nova Methodus Inquirendi in Curvilineorum Quadraturam aliague difficilora Matheseosos Problemata (1673), which is more often recalled for its title rather than for the fact that it introduced to mathematics the idea of ‘limit’.

It is often opined that a man might fulfill the secret purpose of his existence in the doing of a seemingly trivial deed such as a word said in passing or, perhaps, an action not acted upon (the significance of which, more often than not, is forever hidden from the doer). In the case of John Wallis it can be said that he, quite possibly, achieved his destiny with the few simple strokes of his quill with which he, in 1656, modified a Roman variation for 1000.   This was to serve him simply as the notation for a very small quantity, but, in centuries to come, was to serve the world as the symbol (and signature) of INFINITY.


Green Words

 google news commentWhy A Green Word was chosen as The Global Language Monitor Word of the Year -  Google News Comment Dec 13, 2007
The Global Language Monitor began naming the Word of the Year early in this decade, arguably the first organization to do so through our predecessor site in 2000.  Remember the word ‘Chad?’ 
 
Since then it has become an increasingly competitive enterprise, as Merriam-Webster, the New Oxford American Dictionary, Webster’s New World and others have begun the practice.

We, of course, are honored by the competition.
 
There are two distinctions with the Global Language Monitor’s approach:
 
1.  The words are ranked by a proprietary algorithm, the Predictive Quantities Indicator(tm) or PQI, and not by opinion or majority vote of editors, readers, or the public.
 
2.  The words are chosen from the entire English-speaking community, what we call Global English, that now has approximately 1.35 Billion speakers (up from 250 million in 1960.) The words on GLM’s 2007 list include those from China, India, and Singapore.
 
The theory behind the PQI was to eliminate any statistical or personal bias in the choice, So while we are tracking words such as w00t (and actually have a section on L33t-speak in an upcoming book), we found it just did not to have the numerical weight as the words that rose to the top of GLM’s 2007 list.  (While intresting, w00t was surpassed by more than a 500:1 ratio.)
 
Hybrid was chosen as a non-biased, non-politicized, representation of all things green.  You don’t need the PQI to tell you that words and phrases such as climate change, global warming, planetary peril, biodiesel, green in this context, and hybrid all come up tens of millions of times in a simple Google search.  (The PQI tracks momentum, direction, year-over-year changes, as well as several other indicators, and produces a statistically normalized result.)
 
My personal preference for WOTY was the word surge (the Iraq War and political strategy), which actually led our analysis throughout the year until the hybrid-related words surged past surge in our final analyses.

Global English

We’re all speaking Geek By Ben Macintyre

 

 

The London Sunday Times

 

The world wide web, which turned 15 this week, has given us a fantastic outpouring of new words

FIFTEEN YEARS after the birth of the world wide web, the lines of battle are clear. On one side the still young culture of the internet — anarchic, playful, joyfully (and sometimes wilfully) inaccurate, global and uncontrollable; on the other, a paper-based set of priorities — precise, polite, often national in perspective and increasingly paranoid. The latter seeks to manage, limit and define the culture; the former delights in its resistance to regulation.

The battle rages in the conflict between Wikipedia, the sprawling internet encyclopaedia, and the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the canon versus the loose cannon. This week it erupted in the nursery, when the child-rearing guru Gina Ford threw a tantrum and launched her bizarre attempt to shut down the Mumsnet website because some of the mums had been rude about her.

But in no area of the culture is the collision more intense than over the English language, for the web has changed English more radically than any invention since paper, and much faster. According to Paul Payack, who runs the Global Language Monitor, there are currently 988,974 words in the English language, with thousands more emerging every month. By his calculation, English will adopt its one millionth word in late November. To put that statistic another way, for every French word, there are now ten in English.

That claim has enraged traditional lexicographers. The 20-volume OED has 301,100 entries, and purists point out that Mr Payack has little in the way of method and few criteria to define what really constitutes a word. But that, of course, is the point.

He found the remaining 687,874 words by scouring the internet. Every digital English dictionary was combed, before adding in the emerging words, the hybrids, Chinglish (Chinese-English), the slang, the linguistic odds and sods, and even Hollywords, terms created by the film industry. If a word is used in English, it was acceptable.

The nearest rival to English in sheer fecundity is Chinese, and with 1.3 billion Chinese now being officially urged to learn English, the result is nomogamosis (It is on the list: “A state of marital harmony; a condition in which spouses are well matched.”) and many, many offspring, some of them rather sweet. Drinktea, for example, is a sign on a shop door meaning closed, but also derives from the Mandarin for resting.

The so-called tipping point may have come in the mid-1990s at the same time as the invention of the first effective web browser, for ever since the web has served as a seedbed for language, for the cross-fertilisation and rapid evolution of words.

So far from debasing the language, the rapid expansion of English on the web may be enriching the mother tongue. Like Latin, it has developed different forms that bear little relation to one another: a speaker of Hinglish (Hindi-English) would have little to say to a Chinglish speaker. But while the root of Latin took centuries to grow its linguistic branches, modern non-standard English is evolving at fabulous speed. The language of the internet itself, the cyberisms that were once the preserve of a few web boffins, has simultaneous expanded into a new argot of words and idioms: Ancient or Classic Geek has given way to Modern Geek.

The web has revived the possibilities of word-coinage in a way not seen since Shakespearean times, when the language was gradually assuming its modern structure but was not yet codified into dictionaries (the first comprehensive English dictionary appeared in 1730). Then, as now, the lack of control, and the rapid absorption of new terms and ideas through exploration, colonisation and science, enabled a great flowering of words. Of the 24,000 words used by Shakespeare, perhaps 1,700 were his own inventions: besmirch, anchovy, shudder, impede.

Thanks to the internet, we are witnessing the second great age of the neologism, a fantastic outpouring of words and phrases to describe new ideas or reshape old ideas in novel forms of language. Today, a word does not need the slow spread of verbal usage or literature to gain acceptance. If a word works, the internet can breathe instant life into it.

You do not have to be Shakespeare to forge words. George Bush is constantly evolving new words, but no one should misunderestimate the ability of lesser wordsmiths to do likewise. So many words that ought to exist inexplicably do not. There should be a term for that momentary flash of embarrassment when a cell phone rings and you wonder if it is yours; and for the vague disappointment you feel when you think you are about to sneeze, take a deep breath and then don’t. (National Public Radio in the US recently held a competition to name this proto-sneeze and came up with “sniff-hanger”.) Why is there a word for déjà vu, but nothing to describe the opposite experience, far more common, of knowing something perfectly well but being quite unable to remember it?

Last year this newspaper reported the existence, in the Bantu language Tshiluba, of the long-needed word ilunga, meaning “a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time”. Subsequent investigations suggested that the word may not exist in Tshiluba, but it exists now in English, as thousands of entries on the web attest, and the language is better for it.

Rather than fight the word loans and word borrowings, the strange hybrids and new coinages, we should welcome them. New words expand our world. They can even change it. If ilunga is the thrice-repeated offence that cannot be forgiven, then its opposite is an Arabic word, taraadin, meaning “I win, you win”, the face-saving way to end an argument. As bombs fall on southern Lebanon and missiles on northern Israel, the world could profit from learning a new language, in which ilunga is solved by taraadin.

 

Spread the word: English is unstoppable

  

By NEIL REYNOLDS, The Globe and Mail

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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