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The Tangential Thinker - Ladue News: Tangential Thinker

The Tangential Thinker

Word Shortage

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Posted: Thursday, February 11, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 11:16 pm, Tue Aug 9, 2011.

Last week the Global Language Monitor came out with its list of the ‘top’ words of 2009. I’m not sure if they mean most used, most interesting, most frequently seen online—for a linguistics site the word ‘top’ is ironically vague! For all I know, the entire site could be a precocious eighth-grader clicking away in his parents’ rec room.

Nevertheless, GLM claims the top 15 words of 2009 are:

Twitter

Obama

H1N1

Stimulus

Vampire

2.0

Deficit

Hadron

Healthcare

Transparency

Outrage

Bonus

Unemployed

Foreclosure

Cartel

Odd list, don’t you think? Are these the top words being used in Congress? I agree about ‘Twitter’—condensing one’s life into 140 characters can be challenging, but it is a craze. Even above ‘Obama,’ you ask? Well, this is America. We’re lucky the president came in at No. 2—something like 60 percent of Americans don’t know who the vice-president is. ‘H1N1’ is not really a word, and for sure more people are going the politically incorrect route and calling it swine flu

‘Vampire’ I can see, but more people are probably saying Edward. Next year, between Taylor Lautner and Benicio del Toro, I predict ‘werewolf’ will make the list. ‘2.0,’ again, not a word. Let’s group ‘stimulus,’ ‘deficit,’ ‘healthcare,’ ‘transparency,’ ‘outrage,’ ‘bonus,’ ‘unemployed’ and ‘foreclosure’ into one big lump—because they’re all coming in the same conversation, be it liberal or conservative.

Now ‘hadron’ comes in at No. 5. I’m not 100 percent certain of this, but isn’t the hadron collider that thing in Switzerland where scientists are attempting to create a black hole and/or learn about the origins of the universe? Have you ever used the word hadron? Ever heard it come up in conversation? Most of my cocktail party conversations revolve around fall programming and Albert Pujols. Maybe I’m traveling in the wrong circles.

Finally, we have ‘cartel.’ It’s more used than ‘climate’? It’s more used than ‘hip hop’? ‘Facebook’? ‘Google’? ‘Insurance’? ‘Thriller’ ‘Megaplex’? ‘Flimflam’? ‘Fish bait’? ‘Potato chip’? Well, there are a lot of them, and they do come in two varieties: oil and drug, both very serious. Plus it’s fun to say. It just sounds powerful. I would like to be in a cartel—it’s just cooler than being in a syndicate or in organized crime. Well, I better wrap it up. I have to go pick up my own little cartel at school.

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