Word of the Year

27 Nov

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2011/11/23/word_of_the_year_squeezed_middle_is_a_terrible_choice.html

After I read the article, two things instantly popped up in my head:

#1. Ma Ying-jiu’s “Agree on Disagreement” (who knows what the heck that is~ :P) when it comes to 1992 Consensus (providing it exists) and “One China, Two Interpretations”.

#2. Marketing drive is everywhere, even academically.

 

Here are the excerpts:

Voltaire famously said that the Holy Roman Empire was “neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.” Yesterday, Oxford University Press announced that, for the first time, their U.S. and U.K. lexicographers (along with “editorial, marketing, and publicity staff”) had chosen a “global word of the year.” That word is “squeezed middle.” As you may already have noticed, that is neither global, nor a word, nor of the year.

 

It was made popular by Ed Miliband, a British Labor MP who coined the political catchphrase in the fall of 2010 (i.e., last year). Miliband had some trouble defining the term; as BBC political editor Nick Robinson said at the time, the phrase is “deliberately vague”: Like most politicans, Miliband wanted nearly everyone to think he was “talking about them.”

 

More troubling is the notion that the term is somehow “global.” Sure, the economic trouble to which the phrase alludes (albeit in a mealy-mouthed politician’s way) is global in scope. But the term itself remains provincial: It has not been picked up in any meaningful way by American politicians. (If Google search results are any indication, in the U.S. the phrase refers to cookie filling.) And even if it had been, that would hardly make the word global: English is spoken in South Asia, Canada, Australia, much of Africa, and elsewhere. The U.S. and the U.K. are but two of English’s most prominent outposts.

 

What’s more, the phrase helps demonstrate that, to quote George Bernard Shaw (I think), the U.S. and U.K. remain “divided by a common language.” Living in England for a few years about a decade ago, I frequently bumped into linguistic differences—and you needn’t live there to experience this: When I read Money, by Martin Amis, just after moving there, I had no idea why the narrator kept going on about women’s “pants” in such an erotically charged way.

 

So why would a bunch of lexicographers make such a dubious choice? I have a hunch it’s not their fault. As the OUP press release notes, marketing and publicity staff are also involved—and this has the decided air of a marketing decision. Of course, the “word of the year” is, essentially, a publicity push—and those responsible may have felt their choice had to make some nod to the prevailing mood of economic unrest.

 

Even in that case, though, there were other, better choices. One of the runners-up was “occupy,” which happens to be 1) global, 2) a word, and 3) of this year. It’s also politically pointed in a way that the wishy-washy “squeezed middle” is not. Perhaps that’s why it, too, was squeezed.

 

Agreed. “Occupy” should have been Word of the Year not only because of Occupy Wall Street but also because if there were a place the Yankees brass wanted to “occupy”, that would be the Mariners’ front office! XDD


Further reading on echoing the Occupy Wall Street campaign: http://focustaiwan.tw/ShowNews/WebNews_Detail.aspx?Type=aTOD&ID=201110160011

More than 950 cities in 82 countries around the world have seen a surge of protests against economic inequality and corporate greed, echoing the Occupy Wall Street campaign in New York.

 

In Taipei, some 500 people, including some foreigners, encircled the Taipei 101 skyscraper in support of the Occupy Wall Street campaign.

 

In New Zealand and Australia on Saturday, thousands joined the protest, with those in Sydney’s downtown business district prepared to to dig in for the long term. Some protesters in Melbourne also said they would stand “to the end.”

 
In Tokyo, hundreds of people took to the streets, shouting slogans such as “Terminate Nuclear Power.”

 
In Seoul, only about 70 people joined the international campaign in protest against what they deemed a “greedy corporate elite” that has contributed to the worsening labor conditions in South Korea.

 
Similar protests were held in Jakarta, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taipei.

 
Protesters in Europe, where a debt crisis has hit their societies, enthusiastically joined the global campaign.

Some 5,000 demonstrators gathered in front of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany and an estimated 100,000-200,000 people were expected to take part in a rally in Rome. Italians from 80 provinces and areas boarded 750 buses, heading for Rome to protest against what they called their leaders’ poor handling of the European debt crisis.

 

In Madrid, where an “Indignant” campaign took place in May, protesters gathered in Cibeles Sqaure before deciding to move to Puerta del Sol for an overnight sit-in.

 

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