Google search finds more than 2.5 million citations for the word
(CNN) — An event as big as a volcano that disrupts transportation around the globe might be expected to have its name added to the English lexicon, perhaps meaning “to cause widespread disruption,” an English-language monitor said Tuesday.
“People talk about a ‘Krakatau,’ right?” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor, in a telephone interview. He was referring to the 1883 eruption of a volcano in Indonesia that unleashed a tsunami that killed more than 34,000 people.
Payack’s Austin-Texas-based monitor analyzes and catalogues trends in word usage and word choices and their impact on culture, with an emphasis on English.
“Tsunami” itself has gained in usage since the 2004 South Asia event that left 245,000 people dead or missing across the region, said Payack.
“When prices collapsed economically, the first thing that they called it was an ‘economic tsunami,’” he said.
But what happens when that volcano’s name is Eyjafjallajokull, as in the Icelandic volcano whose ash clouds have grounded thousands of flights worldwide?
Payack was not optimistic. “I’ve never heard anybody pronounce it right yet, and I couldn’t even try,” he said.
“There are very few words that appear millions of times in print yet can be pronounced by so few.”
— Paul J.J. Payack, president of Global Language Monitor
“Global Warming,” “9/11” and “Obama” are Top Words,
“Climate Change” is top phrase,
“Heroes” is top name
Austin, TX November 19, 2009 – The Global Language Monitor has announced the Top Words of the Decade, as part of its annual global survey of the English language. The Top Words were ‘Global Warming’, 9/11, and Obama followed by Bailout, Evacuee, and Derivative; Google, Surge, Chinglish, and Tsunami followed. “Climate Change” was the top phrase, while “Heroes” was the top name; bin-Laden was No. 2.
“Looking at the first decade of the 21st century in words is a sober, even somber, event.” said Paul JJ Payack, President of The Global Language Monitor. “For a decade that began with such joy and hope, the words chosen depict a far more complicated and in many ways, tragic time. Nevertheless, signs of hope and renewal can be found in the overall lists.”
The words are culled from throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.58 billion speakers. Since GLM’s survey encompassed the years 2000 - 2009, the expanded lists included 25 Top Words, and 20 Top Phrases and 20 Top Names.
Each List contains the word, phrase or name in numerical order and the year when the word, phrase or name came to prominence. For example, the word ‘quagmire’ is hundreds of years old but it came into renewed prominence in 2004, about a year after the beginning of the Iraq War.
The Top Words of the Decade from 2000 – 2009
Word (Year) Comments
1. Global Warming (2000) Rated highly from Day One of the decade
2. 9/11 (2001) Another inauspicious start to the decade
3. Obama- (2008 )The US President’s name as a ‘root’ word or ‘word stem’
4. Bailout (2008) The Bank Bailout was but Act One of the crisis
5. Evacuee/refugee (2005) After Katrina, refugees became evacuees
6. Derivative (2007) Financial instrument or analytical tool that engendered the Meltdown
7. Google (2007) Founders misspelled actual word ‘googol’
8. Surge (2007) The strategy that effectively ended the Iraq War
9. Chinglish (2005) The Chinese-English Hybrid language growing larger as Chinese influence expands
10. Tsunami (2004) Southeast Asian Tsunami took 250,000 lives
11. H1N1 (2009) More commonly known as Swine Flu
12. Subprime ( 2007) Subprime mortgages were another bubble to burst
13. dot.com (2000) The Dot.com bubble engendered no lifelines, no bailouts
14. Y2K ( 2000) The Year 2000: all computers would turn to pumpkins at the strike of midnight
15. Misunderestimate (2002) One of the first and most enduring of Bushisms
16. Chad ( 2000) Those Florida voter punch card fragments that the presidency would turn aupon
17. Twitter (2008 ) A quarter of a billion references on Google
18. WMD (2002) Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction
19. Blog (2003) First called ‘web logs’ which contracted into blogs
20. Texting (2004) Sending 140 character text messages over cell phones
21. Slumdog (2008) Child inhabitants of Mumba’s slums
22. Sustainable (2006) The key to ‘Green’ living where natural resources are never depleted
23. Brokeback (2004) New term for ‘gay’ from he Hollywood film ‘Brokeback Mountain’
24. Quagmire (2004) Would Iraq War end up like Vietnam, another ‘quagmire’?
25. Truthiness (2006) Steven Colbert’s addition to the language appears to be a keeper
Also worth noting: ’Embedded’ (2003) to embed reporters with US Troops
The Top Phrases of the Decade from 2000 – 2009
Word (Year) Comments
1. Climate Change (2000) Green words in every form dominant the decade
2. Financial Tsunami (2008) One quarter of the world’s wealth vanishes seemingly overnight
3. Ground Zero (2001) Site of 9/11terrorist attack in New York City
4. War on Terror (2001) Bush administration’s response to 9/11
5. Weapons of Mass Destruction (2003) Bush’s WMDs never found in Iraq or the Syrian desert
6. Swine Flu (2008) H1N1, please, so as not to offend the pork industry or religious sensitivities!
7. “Let’s Roll!” (2001) Todd Beamer’s last words before Flight 93 crashed into the PA countryside
8. Red State/Blue State (2004) Republican or Democratic control of states
9. Carbon footprint (2007) How much CO² does an activity produce?
10. Shock-and-awe (2003) Initial strategy of Iraq War
12. Category Four (2005) Force of Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans’ seawalls and levies
13. King of Pop (2000) Elvis was the King, MJ the King (of Pop)
14. “Stay the Course” (2004) Dubya’s off-stated guidance for Iraq War
15. “Yes, we can!” (2008) Obama’s winning campaign slogan
16. “Jai Ho!” (2008) Shout of joy from ‘Slumdog Millionaire’
17. “Out of the Mainstream” (2003) Complaint about any opposition’s political platform
18. Cloud computing (2007) Using the Internet as a large computational device
19. Threat Fatigue (2004) One too many terrorist threat alerts
20. Same-sex marriage (2003) Marriage of gay couples
The Top Names of the Decade from 2000 – 2009
Name (Year) Comments
1. Heroes (2001) Emergency responders who rushed into the Towers
2. bin Laden (2001) His Capture still top of mind for US Military
3. Ground Zero (2001) NY Times still will not capitalize the site as a formal name
4. Dubya (2000) George W. Bush, US President No. 43
5. The Clintons (Hillary & Bill) (2000) Looming on political landscape, though not as large
6. John Paul II (2000) Largest funeral in TV history attested to power
7. Obama (2008) Making an impact as the decade ends
8. Taliban (2000) Still the source of Afghan insurgency
9. Katrina (2004) Hurricane whose destruction of New Orleans is seared into minds around globe
10. Tiger Woods (2000) Top golfer earned about $1 Billion this decade
11. iPhone (2007) First product on this list
12. Paul Hewson (Bono) (2000) U2 Front man, NY Times Columnist, catalyst for African relief
13. Michael Jackson (2000) The King of Pop
14. Al Gore (2000) Nobel Prize winner, US Vice President, Climate Change purveyor
15. Saddham Hussein (2000) Iraqi dictator captured while hiding in a ‘spider hole’
16. Enron (2001) Seems like another era since this giant fell
17. Bollywood (2000) Mumbai’s answer to Hollywood
18. Facebook (2007) Another ubiquitous software product
19. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005) Iranian president since 2005
20. Vladimir Putin (2000) Russian leader since 2000
Also worth noting: ’Wikipedia’ (2006) The user-generated compendium of all knowledge
The analysis was completed on November 16th using GLM’s Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI), the proprietary algorithm that tracks words and phrases in the media and on the Internet, now including blogs and social media (such as Twitter). 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.
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