This is the twentieth consecutive survey since the turn of the century that Global Language Monitor has tracked the Word of the Year.
AUSTIN, Texas, Dec. 17, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Global Language Monitor, a company that documents, analyzes, and tracks trends in language usage worldwide, has announced that ‘Woke’ is the Top Word of the Year (#WOTY) for 2019. Woke has also dramatically risen in use during the last decade.
“In progressive-based language, ‘woke’ describes an epiphany-like experience, where one is awakened to the call of social justice and the failures of the past,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “Every generation in the Post-Modern era has had similar experiences be they Civil Rights, the Vietnam War, the Women’s Movement, LGBT rights, and beyond. A key distinction here is that the sins of the past are now viewed in the context of the present as subjects to be rectified.”
‘Woke’ traces back through the Old English and is defined as to arise, to come to be, and to be born. It’s from Anglo-Saxon and Old High German ultimately from Proto-Indo-European root ‘weg’ defined as to be strong and to be lively.
‘Woke,’ the Top Word of the Year for Global English has dramatically risen in use in the U.S. during the last decade as shown in the Google Ngram.
Progress as the Top Un-trending Word
In a first, GLM named the Top Un-trending Word (or Decliner) for 2019, which is thus far ‘Progress.’ Payack noted, “The concept of progress has had a profound influence on the advance of Western Civilization since ancient times. The idea of ‘progress’ as espoused in the works of Enlightenment thinkers had considerable influence on the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The word though has significantly fallen especially since the mid-1960s as shown in the Google Ngram.
In 2018 there were two distinct Words of the Year (#WOTY): The Moment — A confluence of fame, fortune, and happenstance (Worldwide), and Weaponize — In today’s bitterly partisan infighting, any word, action, or deed can and will be weaponized (U.S. alone).
Global Language Monitor began recording the Top Words of the Year in 2000 to document the history of the 21st Century through the English language, the world’s first truly global language. The words are culled throughout the English-speaking world, which as of January 2018 ranks more than 2.58 billion speakers. Global Language Monitor employs its NarrativeTracker technologies for global internet and social media analysis.
NarrativeTracker is based on global discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture about any topic, at any point in time. NarrativeTracker analyzes the internet, blogosphere, and the top 300,000 print and electronic global media as well as new social media sources as they emerge.
Global Language Monitor has also provided a list of the Top 20 Trending Words of the Year for 2019 ranked to date, including last year’s ranking (number after the word) and a brief description or commentary of usage.
- Woke (5) — An epiphany-like experience, where one is awakened to the call of social justice.
- Consequential — Presidents are now judged on the ‘consequentiality’ of their administrations.
- Migrants (16) — The continuing worldwide movement of mass migrations.
- Opioids (3) — The scourge continues as the nation seems a bit inured to the devastation (more casualties than all deaths in U.S. Wars from WWII to present).
- Collusion (11) — The report is filed and final, but the controversies continue.
- Anthropocene — Did a new human-influenced geological epoch actually begin in 1950?
- Heartbeat — Fetal heartbeat bills are now front-and-center in state legislatures across the nation.
- Blue Wave — The Democrats winning back control of Congress in the 2018 Mid-terms.
- Family Separation (6) — Family detention and separations actually began in 2014. This is a grave and intractable matter, with plenty of blame to spread around.
- Trade War (7) — As we first noted in 2009, “The Rise of China” is a geopolitical event of the first order with the seismic shockwaves continuing to echo around the world.
- Fake News (8) — Packaged news, planted sources, one-sided exposes, party lines, and official narratives are a new phenomenon only to those with no sense of history.
- Climate Change — 8,000 years ago, New York City was under a mile of ice.
- The Moment (1) — A confluence of fame, fortune, and happenstance.
- Nukes (4) — Last year North Korea and in 2019 Iran and Russia added to the mix.
- Progressives — The word ‘liberal’ outlived its usefulness as the description of one’s political leanings.
- Micro-influencers — Bloggers, Vloggers, Instagrammers, YouTubers, and other small yet very influential communities of interest.
- Fact Check (17) — New studies suggest that fact-checkers appear to have definite biases.
- ICE — The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency under the Department of Homeland Security.
- Women’s World Cup — The quadrennial, global celebration of women’s football.
- Gerrymander — The divvying up the political spoils (election districts) to the advantage of those in power.
Global Language Monitor has also released the Top Trending Words/Phrases of the Year for 2019 related to the call of social justice ranked to date, including last year’s ranking (number after the word) and a brief description or commentary.
- Identity Politics — - Tip O’Neill once famously opined that “all politics IS local”; nowadays it this has been updated to “all politics IS Identity”.
- They/Them — A variation of He/She.
- Fetal Heartbeat — - The center of a movement in many states to prove fetal viability.
- Woke — - The Great Awokening, etc.
- MeToo — - The #MeToo movement continues to wend itself into global culture.
- Cisgender — Those identifying with their assigned birth gender.
- Cultural Appropriation — One group, say white, female college students, adopting popular fashion styles of a minority group. (At one time considered a great compliment.)
- Intersectionality — According to Oxford, “The interconnected nature of social categorizations creating overlapping systems of discrimination”.
- Microaggression — Comments, looks, and gestures that communicate prejudicial slights, often unintentional.
- White Privilege — Societal benefits accrued to whites, by benefit of their cultural heritage. (In other cultures privilege often extends to other cultural groups.)
In addition, the Global Language Monitor has also tracked the Top Words, Phrases and Names of the 21st Century. More information about these and the company can be found at Languagemonitor.com.
About Global Language Monitor
Based in Austin, Texas, the Global Language Monitor collectively documents, analyzes and tracks trends in language usage worldwide, with a particular emphasis upon the English language. The company is known for its Word of the Year, political analysis, college and university rankings, high-tech buzzwords, and media analytics. For more information, visit Languagemonitor.com.
Paul JJ Payack
Google Ngram showing the rise of “Woke”
Woke, the Top Trending Word of 2019 for Global English thus far has dramatically risen in U.S. during the last decade as shown in the Google Ngram graph.
Google Ngram showing the decline of “Progress”
Progress, the Top Un-trending Word Decliner for 2019, has significantly fallen, especially since the mid-1960s as shown in the Google Ngram.
SOURCE The Global Language Monitor