Global warming, 9/11, Obama top words of the decade

Wed Nov 18, 2009 9:12pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Concerns over the environment and terrorism have not only affected how people lived in the past decade but also their language, with "global warming" and "9/11" topping a list of the most used words of the 2000s.

The Global Language Monitor, which uses a math formula to track the frequency of words and phrases in print and electronic media, said "Obama" came third in the list with the surname of U.S. President Barack Obama used as the stem for other words.

"Bailout" was listed fourth after the bank bailout was one of the first acts of the financial crisis, "evacuee" came fifth in the wake of Hurricane Katrina devastating New Orleans, and "derivative" featured fifth.

"Google," "surge," "Chinglish" meaning a hybrid of Chinese and English, and "tsunami," after the 2004 Asian disaster that left 230,000 people dead or missing, followed.

"Looking at the first decade of the 21st century in words is a sober, even somber, event," said Paul JJ Payack, president of The Global Language Monitor.

"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."

Payack said the top phrase of the decade was "climate change" followed by "financial tsunami" and "Ground Zero."

Technology's impact on the past decade was reflected in the list with "Twitter," the micro-blogging site, one of the most used words while "blog" and "texting" featured on the list.

Hollywood continued to flex its muscle, with "slumdog" from the Oscar-winning film "Slumdog Millionaire," referring to child inhabitants of Mumbai slums, making its mark in global languate. U.S. comedian Stephen Colbert's "truthiness," defined as truth that comes from the gut not books, came in at No. 25.

(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

<p>A villager walks through a partially dried reservoir in Yingtan, Jiangxi province October 29, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer</p>