Cleav­age surge

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

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.

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