Top Words of ’08: Change beats Bailout and ObamaMania

Change beats Bailout and Obamamania as top word of 2008


Financial Tsunami is Top Phrase, Barack Obama is Top Name


Austin, TX December 1, 2008 - Change is the Top Word,  Financial Tsunami is Top Phrase, and Barack Obama is Top Name atop the Global Language Monitor’s ( annual global survey of the English language.

The estimated number of words in the English language stands at 998,751, just 1,249 from the million-word mark.

Global English has been driven by three notable events during the course of 2008:  The US Presidential Election, the Financial Tsunami, and the Beijing Olympics.” said Paul JJ Payack, President of The Global Language Monitor. For 2008 our words were culled from throughout the English-speaking world which now numbers some 1.58 billion speakers and includes such diverse cultures as India, China, Philippines, and the EuroZone.

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, factoring in long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum and velocity.

The top words for 2007 were all ‘green’ oriented:  Hybrid was the Top Word, the Top Phrase was Climate Change, and the Top Name was Al Gore.(who won the Nobel Prize) for his efforts on Global Warming through ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. In an odd twist of history, Gore also won an academy award for the film.

The Top Word for 2006 were ‘sustainable,’ the Top Phrase was ‘Stay the Course’ (President Bush repeatedly describing his Iraq Strategy), and the Top Name was Dafur.

The Top Ten Words of 2008

  1. Change – The top political buzzword of the 2008 US Presidential campaign.
  2. Bailout – Would have been higher but was not in the media until Mid-September.
  3. Obamamania – Describing the worldwide reaction to Barack Obama’s campaign and subsequent victory in the US presidential race.
  4. Greenwashing – Repositioning a product to stress its Earth-friendly attributes.
  5. Surge – Military and political strategy often cited as reducing violence in Iraq.
  6. Derivative – Exotic financial instruments used to cleverly package junk-grade debt.
  7. Subprime – Mortgages that were packaged as derivatives.
  8. Foreclosure – The end-result of the sub-prime mess.
  9. Phelpsian:  New word coined to describe the Phelpsian Pheat of winning eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.
  10. Chinglish – The often amusing Chinese/English language hybrid that Beijing tried to stamp out before the Olympics began.

 The Top Ten Phrases of 2008

  1. Financial Tsunami – Worldwide financial meltdown ultimately stemming from derivatives used to package subprime mortgages.
  2. Global Warming – The No. 2 buzzword of the US Presidential Campaign.
  3. Yes We Can — Yes, indeed, he could and he did.
  4. Lame Duck – What happens when you wait 2 ½ months from election to inauguration.
  5. Working Class Whites – Apparently, working Class Whites is used as a code word for whites who are working class. 
  6. “It is, what it is” – On everyone’s lips this year meaning ‘unfortunately, those are the facts’.
  7. 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.
  8. Price of oil – Oil was supposed to topping out about now at $200/barrel.
  9. Super Tuesday – When the race for the Democratic nomination was supposed to be decided.
  10. Suddenness Happens – Top Chinglish Phrase from the Beijing Olympics.

The Top Ten Names for 2008

  1. Barack Obama  — . President-elect of the United States.
  2. George W. Bush  Lame Duck, No. 43, The Decider.
  3. Michael Phelps — The top name of the top televison spectacle of all time (the Beijing Olympics)
  4. Hilary Clinton – She said ‘he can’t win;’ now she is his Secretary of State.
  5. Vladimir Putin  — The supreme leader of Russia, whatever his title.
  6. Bono — U2’s front man also known for his efforts to raise awareness about AIDS in African, Third World debt and Unfair Trade practices.
  7. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  Iran now claims 5,000 nuclear centrifuges.
  8. Sarah Palin – Governor of Alaska and vice presidential nominee of the Republican party.
  9. John McCain – Soon to be the answer to a trivia question: Mondale, Dole, Dukakis ….
  10. Beyonce – The R&B singer AKA as Sasha Fierce.

The Top Celeb Couple:  Sarkozy and Carla Bruni – Big hit for his policies and her former supermodel status (replacing David Beckham and Posh Spice).

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