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Malala top name, Apocalypse top word of 2012

Last Updated: Monday, January 7, 2013 - 13:03

Los Angeles: Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai, who was shot in her head by Taliban, has become the top name of 2012 along with Apocalypse, reflecting a growing fascination with `end-of-the-world` scenario, which emerged as the top word.

Korean rapper Psy`s infectious viral hit song `Gangnam Style` was the top phrase of the year, according to the 13th annual global survey of English language done by Global Language Monitor, which analyses the latest trends in word usage and their cultural impact.

Apocalypse was followed by deficit, Olympiad, Bak`tun, and meme. Completing the top 10 were MOOC, the Cloud, Omnishambles, Frankenstorm and obesogenic.

The other top phrases that followed Gangnam Style were Global Warming/Climate Change, Fiscal Cliff, The deficit, God Particle, Rogue nukes, Near-Earth Asteroid, Binders Full of Women, Arab Spring, Solar max and Big Data.

The top 10 names of 2012 were Newtown and Malala (tie), Xi Jinping, Kate Middleton, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, London Olympics, Higgs Boson, Europe (EU/Eurogeddon), Felix Baumgartner (skydiver) and Senkaku Islands.

"Apocalypse reflects a growing fascination with various `end-of-the-world` scenarios, or at least the end of life as we know it. This year the Mayan Apocalypse was well noted, but some eight of the top words and phrases were directly related to a sense of impending doom," says Paul J J Payack, president of GLM.

"These included Apocalypse, Bak`tun, Frankenstorm, Global Warming/Climate Change, God Particle, Rogue Nukes, Solar Max, Near-Earth Asteroid. Media examples include the Mayan apocalypse frenzy in Russia, the US Presidential elections (Obamageddon, Romneygeddon), the threatened dissolution of the common currency in Europe (Eurogeddon), to the call for the UN to implement an `Armageddon-type` policy to address previously undetected space rocks hurtling toward earth.

"Our top words, phrases and names this year represent some five continents, which continues to confirm the ever-expanding nature of the English language," he says.

Apocalyptic terms are combination or `portmanteau` words linking a root word with `apocalypse` such as the Snowpocalypse in the Washington DC area several years ago mentioned by Obama. Apocalypse, itself, can be traced to the ancient Greek word apokalyptein meaning to `uncover, restore, reveal or disclose`.

The rankings were based on actual word usage throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.83 billion people.

According to GLM, to qualify for these lists, the words, names, and phrases must be found globally, have a minimum of 25,000 citations and the requisite `depth` and `breadth` of usage. Depth is defined as appearing in various forms of media; breadth that they must appear world-over, not limited to a particular profession or social group or geography.

GLM 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. It analyses the Internet, blogosphere, the top 275,000 print and electronic global media, as well as new social media sources as they emerge.


First Published: Monday, January 7, 2013 - 13:03
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