Decade's top words: Global warming, Obama

Decade's top words: Global warming, Obama

Most influential

The top words named by the Global Language Monitor (GLM) are global warming, 9/11, and Obama followed by bailout, evacuee, derivative, Google, surge, Chinglish, and tsunami. Twenty-first on the list is the word ‘slumdog’, popularised by the Oscar-winning film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.

The catchword of the film’s popular song ‘Jai ho’ has been ranked 16 in the top phrases of the decade while the term Bollywood the 17th top name in the list.
Other entries in the top words list are H1N1, misunderestimate (one of the first and most enduring of Bushisms), Twitter and blog.

The top phrases of the decade are climate change, financial tsunami, war on terror (Bush administration’s response to 9/11), swine flu, king of pop, stay the course (Bush’s off-stated guidance for Iraq war) and ‘Yes, we can!’ (Obama’s winning campaign slogan). The top names are Heroes (emergency responders who rushed into the twin towers after 9/11), Osama bin Laden, Dubya (George Bush’s nickname), Taliban, Katrina, Tiger Woods, Saddam Hussein, and Facebook.

“Looking at the first decade of the 21st century in words is a sober, even sombre, event,” says GLM’s chief word analyst Paul J J Payack. “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,” he says.

The words were culled from throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.58 billion speakers. The survey encompassed the years 2000-2009, and the expanded lists include 25 top words, 20 top phrases and 20 top names.

The analysis was completed on November 16 using GLM’s predictive quantities indicator, the proprietary algorithm that tracks words and phrases in the media and on the Internet. 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.

Top ten words