A ceremony marks the end of one Maya cycle and the start of a new one Dec. 22 in Copan Ruinas, Honduras. Dec. 21 marked the end of an era that lasted 5,200 years, according to the Maya "Long Count" calendar.(Photo: Orlando Sierra, AFP/Getty Images)
As we say goodbye to 2012, let's hope our vocabulary shifts from bad vibes to positive signs.
The Global Language Monitor
announced that "apocalypse" is the top, or most influential, word for
2012 in its 13th-annual global survey of the English language.
that's not too surprising in a year when eight of the top words and
phrases identified in the new survey "were directly related to a sense
of impending doom," says Paul J.J. Payack, president of the Global
Language Monitor. Fears of the end of the world from a misinterpretation
of the ancient Maya calendar probably helped drive the dour tone, but
the list of oft-used words and phrases included "Frankenstorm," "global
warming," "fiscal cliff," "rogue nukes" and "near-Earth asteroids."
many words had to do with the end of life and end of the world," says
Payack, whose Austin-based media analytics company tracks cultural
trends in language.
The rankings are based on word usage
throughout the English-speaking world whether in print or electronic
media. The words, phrases and names must be found globally and have a
minimum of 25,000 citations. The survey also considers breadth of usage,
meaning that the terms must not be limited to a group or profession.
The survey also found that the top phrase is "Gangnam Style," the title of South Korean pop star Psy's single and video. Gangnam Style became the first video to hit a billion views on YouTube.
top names cited were Newtown, the Connecticut town where there was a
deadly school shooting, and Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teen attacked
after advocating education for girls.
Payack says the survey
reflects how the English language is evolving. "New words are being
adopted quickly and driven by technology and social media," he adds.
says the rapid spread of Frankenstorm, the nickname for Superstorm
Sandy, is an example of how an utterance can become a globally
recognized neologism, which is a newly coined word or expression.
"Frankenstorm - a U.S. meteorologist put it out in a bulletin," Payack says. "Within a week, it's around the world."
2011, the top word was "occupy," reflecting the Occupy protests against
economic and social inequality and "occupied" areas such as Iraq and
Palestine. The top phrase was "Arab Spring," referring to political
uprisings in Arab countries. That year, the top name was Steve Jobs, the
co-founder of Apple who died on Oct. 5, 2011.
What will be on the tips of our tongues in 2013?
headlines still will be plentiful, because global warming and
near-Earth asteroids will be in the news, Payack says. A sunspot cycle
actually reaches solar max during 2013, he adds.
Prince William and his wife, Catherine, duchess of Cambridge, expecting
their first child, the name of the royal heir would rank high on the
list, he says. This would be especially true if Will and Kate have a
daughter, who could spur efforts to change succession laws.