@Twitter is #TopWord – but what else ranks?

According to the Global Language Monitor, “Twitter” is the “Top Word of 2009”. Personally, I feel justified. As an ex-Twitter skeptic, I spent a disgusting amount of time this holiday season defending why I use Twitter and validating its popularity among my still skeptical family.

However, Twitter is not my intended discussion for this blog post; I’ll reserve that for another post or two. Instead, I want to focus on the other words that rank: stimulus, deficit, transparency, outrage, unemployed, foreclosure. By looking at this list, you’d think we were in an economic crisis or something … oh, wait.

The fact that all of these words topped the vernacular list certainly says something about what was important to us this year – and how we communicated it (“us” and “we” being English-speakers, according to how GLM compiles its data). So how are our words communicated?

Communication is increasingly about access to information in real time (ahem, Twitter was #1). We communicate online, offline, via telephone and television. We read, we write, we listen to the radio.  Technology allows words to be exchanged outside conversation with our immediate neighbors. It connects us to conversations around the world. With so many vehicles of communication, information is constantly around us. And, given the GLM list, it would appear that “information in real time” = news. News giants like CNN and BBC connect to their audience through all of these mediums: they have TV stations, they have websites, they have Twitter accounts. More importantly, they have potentially the widest vested audience possible. It should be no surprise that the buzz words of the big news stories top the list.

But wait. “Vampire” is #5? I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that “vampire” relates to the book/movie phenomenon that is “Twilight”. This word is an interesting anomaly in light of words like “transparency” and “foreclosure”. How can “vampire” be circulated as much as “H1N1”? The same answer holds true: technology. Twilight may have a surprisingly wide audience, but the bulk of its fan base is Gen-Y. Teenagers communicate in the same ways, and sometimes more, than their parents; just add text messaging and Facebook into the mix alone. Through the use of technology, teenagers are driving conversation in ways their adult counterparts never did in their teen years. It’s quite powerful that the word “vampire” can be propelled to the top of this list by an enthusiastic teenage fan base. Note: “Vampire” > “Healthcare”. Wow.

So not only does the GLM list tell us what we are communicating and how we are communicating. It also tells us who is communicating. News media may direct most of our collective conversations, but young people play an increasingly large role in driving social discourse. And clearly I’m missing out by refusing to read or watch “Twilight”.



~ by Lindsay Bembenek on January 3, 2010.

2 Responses to “@Twitter is #TopWord – but what else ranks?”

  1. […] This post was Twitted by LindsayBembenek […]

  2. you are certainly missing out by refusing to read and watch Twilight! 🙂 I love your blog!

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