The Global Language Monitor (GLM), a U.S.-based assemblage of academics, wordsmiths and bibliophiles that analyzes and catalogues the latest trends in word usage, word choices and their effect, just completed its first ranking of top “political buzzwords” for the first half of 2007.
For instance, the 2006 list of the most popular buzzwords — terms or phrases that become loaded with emotional freight beyond the normal meaning of the word — included “global warming,” “insurgency,” “credibility,” “throes,” and “quagmire.”
Now we see the effect of the early start to the 2008 presidential campaign, with the top buzzwords “Obama,” “cleavage,” “YouTube,” “Live Earth,” “surge,” “all-time low,” “subpoena,” “ ‘I don’t recall’ ” and “pardon.”
“This disparate collection of buzzwords speaks volumes about today’s electorate,” said GLM President Paul J.J. Payack. “We have an Iraq war strategy, a name, a corporate entity, and a commentary on a female candidate’s ‘neckline’ at the top of the list.”
Further explaining the emotional aspect of buzzwords, Mr. Payack points out that 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.