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Last update: 2013-05-26

Protected: In, At, To, For

2013-05-26

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.You might also like:Korean Tongue SurgeryThe Great Wall of JapanThe New Words We HateThe Perils of ApologizingThe New # 1Billion Dollar Outsourcing…

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Progress, Spreadsheets & the President

2013-04-30 :: ENGLISH MOJO - Words Move People
Length: 5s

How was the US stock market called in to measure progress? Can you index security in a battle-torn nation? English Mojo highlights a new way of looking at war.You might also be interested in:Progress Is Our Most Important ProductThe Progress MantraMaking Presidential ProgressPresidential Speeches AnalyzedA Surge in the CapitalFines for Using English…

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The Highest Ranking UK Words

2013-04-30 :: ENGLISH MOJO - Words Move People
Length: 5s

What do the favorite 20 words in the United Kingdom reveal about the character of the nation? English Mojo examines each of the top words chosen in a nationwide survey.You might also like:A Country’s Favorite WordsThe Three Words of WarThe Presidents’ AnalystBillion Dollar OutsourcingAnalyzing Evil SpeechesPresidential Speeches Analyzed…

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The Me, Me, Me Campaign

2013-04-30 :: ENGLISH MOJO - Words Move People
Length: 9s

What words did presidential candidates in a furious election rely on? What did speech analysis show about the leading contenders? English Mojo jumps once again into a campaign fray.You might also be interested in:Fluffy and Fact-FreeBig Money CampaigningThis Election ExplainedExposing Sub-Texts in PoliticiansThe Candidates’ MantrasFluffy, Cream-Stuffed Campaign Tricks…

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How to Tell a Story

2013-04-30 :: ENGLISH MOJO - Words Move People
Length: 12s

What are the secrets of telling a humorous or comedy story? Are they timeless, or do they change from generation to generation? English Mojo checks in with a master humorist on storytelling techniques.You might also like:How to Tell a Funny StoryCelebrities Saying SorryFavorite Words of the PresidentKorean Tongue SurgeryOde to This ElectionReally, Really Sorry…

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The Perils of Apologizing

2013-04-30 :: ENGLISH MOJO - Words Move People
Length: 8s

Why do Japanese fear saying sorry in the US? How can apologies can make things worse? What are the elements of actual apologies? English Mojo examines the current state of apologizing.You might also like:Really, Really SorryPerils of Japanese EnglishCelebrities Saying SorryThe Great Wall of JapanThe Three Words of WarPresidential Speeches Analyzed…

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Lifestyles of the Superstar Drugs

2013-04-30 :: ENGLISH MOJO - Words Move People
Length: 7s

Which drug names are real, and which fictional? What are the black arts of drug naming? What are lifestyle drugs? English Mojo concludes the series on the special world of drug naming.You might also be interested in:Creating New Drug NamesDrug SuperstarsDrug SuperheroesThe Power of Drug NamesThe Drugs of SuperheroesOde to This Election…

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The Drugs of Superheroes

2013-04-30 :: ENGLISH MOJO - Words Move People
Length: 6s

How do pharmaceutical companies name their new bestseller drugs? What obstacles stand in the way of a new name? English Mojo takes its medicine.You might also be interested in:The Power of Drug NamesCreating New Drug NamesDrug SuperheroesLifestyles of the Superstar DrugsDrug SuperstarsPerils of Japanese English…

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The Three Words of War

2013-04-30 :: ENGLISH MOJO - Words Move People
Length: 7s

How does a blood and guts conflict turn into a word war in Washington? What was behind the sidestepping by politicos as soldiers moved toward the front? English Mojo examines the depth of a momentous phraseology battle.You might also like:The Presidents’ AnalystA Surge in the CapitalThe Highest Ranking UK WordsA One-Word Defense, 70 TimesThe Candidates’ MantrasThe Perils of Apologizing…

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Big Money Campaigning

2013-04-30 :: ENGLISH MOJO - Words Move People
Length: 8s

What does the first billion dollar campaign buy? Can you use online tools to analyze candidates? What makes a speech great? English Mojo looks into the differences between big money and big thinking.You might also be interested in:Exposing Sub-Texts in PoliticiansThe Me, Me, Me CampaignBillion Dollar OutsourcingFluffy, Cream-Stuffed Campaign TricksThe Candidates’ MantrasThis Election Explained…

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Perils of Japanese English

2013-04-30 :: ENGLISH MOJO - Words Move People
Length: 11s

Why does this country so far from the origins of a language embrace it? What obstacles arise between a visual Asian language and a phonetic European one? How far does the Japanese version of English go? English Mojo explores the often bewildering world of Japanese English.You might also like:The Perils of ApologizingThe Great Wall of JapanKorean Tongue SurgeryThe New # 1Really, Really SorryAnalyzing Evil Speeches…

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Making Presidential Progress

2013-04-30 :: ENGLISH MOJO - Words Move People
Length: 6s

What was the phrase of choice for the US war President plunging in popularity? What theme is most beloved by advertisers of new products? English Mojo looks into an American mindset.You might also be interested in:The Progress MantraProgress, Spreadsheets & the PresidentProgress Is Our Most Important ProductPresidential Speeches AnalyzedAnalyzing Evil SpeechesA Country’s Favorite Words…

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Creating New Drug Names

2013-04-30 :: ENGLISH MOJO - Words Move People
Length: 7s

How much do pharmaceutical companies pay to professional names for a drug moniker? How do naming specialists create a new bestselling name? Which letters work best to create a mood from a name? English Mojo peel back the label of some popular drugs.  You might also be interested in:The Power of Drug NamesLifestyles of the Superstar DrugsDrug SuperheroesDrug SuperstarsThe Drugs of SuperheroesOde to This Election…

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How to Learn New Words

2013-04-30 :: ENGLISH MOJO - Words Move People
Length: 9s

How can you learn new words? How are neologisms created? What are the origins of new word lists? English Mojo presents some of the recent additions to dictionaries, along with tips for increasing your vocabulary.You might also like:The New Words We HateA Country’s Favorite WordsA One-Word Defense, 70 TimesThe Candidates’ MantrasA Surge in the CapitalHow the Super-Rich Sue for Libel…

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A Surge in the Capital

2013-04-25

Even as the US president said, “Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship,” a winner was already rising out of the skirmishes. The combatants were three words. This was Washington English where the field of combat covers a bloodless maze of power in and around the nation’s capitol. As soldiers gathered their kits and prepared for their trip into the deserts of Mesopotamia, leaders of the world’s strongest power were busy fighting inside the beltway – fighting fiercely over three simple terms: surge, escalate and augment. Maybe they were thinking of Mark Twain’s caution, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is really a large matter – it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” For even before the president marched out his 3,000-word speech, the three-word battle had been joined. It wasn’t over the phrasings his staff had prepared. Not, for instance, because he used the word, “new”, a heavy-handed 17 times, nor even because he closed with this odd construction: “trust that the Author of Liberty will guide us”. The previous November, after the elections and before the January address that Pentagon officials had been quoted anonymously in the New York Times, talking about plans for 20,000 more troops. Then the term “surge option” appeared in the press, and it soon became, “the surge”. Surge is a fine word meaning “a strong, wavelike, forward movement, rush, or sweep”. It’s a word with a built-in narrative,v larger, then smaller. In military use a “surge force” might mean troops that come in quickly to do a job, then leave. The president offered less dramatic phrases: “increasing American force levels” and “will be deployed”. These descriptions paled against the short and sexy “surge”, which sounds an awful lot like “urge” and was soon on everybody’s lips. The secretary of defense tried to dispel the mojo that surge was exerting when he said, “The increase in military forces will be phased in. It will not unfold overnight; there will be no D-Day; it won’t look like the Gulf War.” But surge was still in the buzz. [Thanks for taking this article from EnglishMojo.com.] In fact, escalation was one of two words that would come into conflict the day after the president’s speech. It was then that one Nebraska senator, who is a veteran of the Vietnam war, questioned the secretary of state, who is a doctor of political science. THE SENATOR: My question was the escalation of American troops in Iraq. THE SECRETARY OF STATE: But I think you asked who was supporting it. … And they know that the augmentation of American forces is part of that plan. Now, as to the question of escalation, I think that I don’t see it, and the president doesn’t see it, as an escalation. What he sees… THE SENATOR: Putting 22,000 new troops, more troops in, is not an escalation? THE SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I think, Senator, escalation is not just a matter of how many numbers you put in. Escalation is also a question of, are you changing the strategic goal of what you’re trying to do? Are you escalating… THE SENATOR: Would you call it a decrease, and billions of dollars more that you need… THE SECRETARY OF STATE: I would call it, Senator, an augmentation… There “escalation” and “augmentation” come in, both of them 50 cent words used where ten cent words would fit. Escalate is an especially powerful word in America, with a history since it [...]…

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Really, Really Sorry

2013-04-25

Before you give your next apology, consider some recent results of saying sorry. After apologizing for his prime minister, an Australian was suddenly forced off-line. In Las Vegas a man who apologized was arrested and extradited. And Ohio teenagers – scheduled to court-ordered public apologies – were stopped by death threats. Even Japanese, perhaps the most apologetic people on earth, now often refuse to do so at all when in the US for fear of legal liability. In short, the climate of the apology has been changing across much of the developed world. The pressures against apologies are growing perhaps most in the lawyer-overrun environment of North America. How strong are these pressures? What is the state of the common apology today? And what are the consequences of apologizing in this environment? Apology is generally defined as an expression of regret, remorse, or sorrow for having insulted, failed, injured, or wronged another, and at other times as a defense, excuse or justification for some action. Most people in Western cultures expect a true apology to contain several key elements, namely: a confession of error, a sincere statement of sorrow over hurt caused, a request for forgiveness, reparations for the error, and a sincere promise to not repeat the error. But the risks of saying sorry are rising. Chief among these: civil and criminal liability. In response to these risks, a Canadian province and 20 American states now enforce apology laws to protect people whose apologies might otherwise lead to them to court. High profile and celebrity apologies – crafted by behind-the-scenes publicity professionals – have been mutating the most. Some have changed so much that all key elements of expressing regret are totally missing. But even among people who must craft their own apologies, the common folk, styles of apology have changed. For example, young people who run afoul of the law are often expected to make direct apologies. Ohio teenagers pleaded guilty to delinquency charges in damaging two US flags. They had been sentenced to deliver apologies at Veterans Day services. But when a murder plot against them was discovered in an Internet chat room, their appearance was canceled. In its place the apology was simply printed in the local newspaper. Apologies mixed with satire tend to unsettle those in power. The Australian mentioned set up a spoof apology web site for Prime Minister John Howard. It received 10,000 visits its first day, and also attracted a rapid response from the Australian Federal Police. Then – though no charges were filed – suddenly and without announcement the parody site was disconnected by its private domain registrar. [Thanks for taking this article from EnglishMojo.com.] No one says sorry more often, more quickly and in more different ways than the Japanese. If you live in Japan, you realize that hundreds of automatic apologies are needed to keep daily life going smoothly. But when they visit the US these days many Japanese have become terrified of potential lawsuits in a country where expressing regret or concern over a fender-bender can be interpreted as admitting legal culpability. On the other hand, apologies have pop up where you least expect them. A Colorado resident reported to police that he had been clubbed by a nighttime intruder with a baseball bat. The assailant apparently realized too late that he had come to the wrong house. He proceeded to apologize to the resident and explain his mistake. But just as suddenly it was back to business, and a battle ensued before the intruder finally fled with an accomplice. Of course some apologies just lack credibility. This [...]…

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Analyzing Evil Speeches

2013-04-25

The man who gave the world “the axis of evil” left the White House, presumably never to return. Though his words captured people’s attention around the world, chief speech writer, Michael Gerson’s identity was relatively unknown. That famous three-word power phrase emerged from word games inside the White House four-person speech writing team – people with weighty compound titles such as “Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Speech Writing”, and “Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Presidential Speech writing”. By contrast, 80 years ago the very first of their kind settled for the modest designation of “literary clerk”. Whatever the bureaucracy weighing on their creativity, the presidential speech team of “literary clerks” did manage to produce the “axis term” to link certain countries to terrorists in the public mind. The phrase developed when one of the team coined “axis of hatred”. Then evangelical Christian heavyweight Gerson stepped in and spun it into a more theological “axis of evil”. Evil, of course, is not new to the White House. Ronald Reagan referred to the Soviet Union an “evil empire”. And more obliquely, Franklin Roosevelt called the war against Germany a battle between the cross and the swastika. History has conveniently, if somewhat cruelly, provided snapshots in time of two different speeches created in remarkably similar tragedies. Look at the Pearl Harbor and the September 11 attacks, and at the responses of Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and George Walker Bush . In both cases, a nation was suddenly shocked by large numbers of deaths ( 2,403 at Pearl Harbor; at least 2,973 on September 11), and serious material destruction ( 18 ships, including five battleships at Pearl Harbor; seven buildings on September 11). And in both cases, the President responded within a day with an address to the American people. [Thanks for joining us at EnglishMojo.com.] FDR’s speech – it’s said – was composed in his head. He then reportedly dictated calmly to his secretary what appeared to be a request to Congress for a declaration of war, but which was more a rallying cry to the American people. The development of GWB’s speech is less clear, but it’s reasonable to suppose the core writing team was involved. In any case the texts of the speeches speak for themselves. Some people would compare the speeches subjectively. Such comparisons will always be debatable. But interesting differences can be found by more scientific analysis. For instance consider the frequency of repeated words and phrases. The longest phrase repeated by FDR is “last night Japanese forces attacked”, which he says three times. GWB’s is “will be open for business”, which he repeats twice. Among non-trivial or uncommon single words FDR repeats “Japanese” the most, ten times. For GWB the leading word is “I”, repeated eight times, followed by “America” (six times), “world” (five times), and “evil” (four times). FDR’s next most repeated words or phrases are “United States”, “American”, “forces”, and “I”, all six times each. As to the raw mileage for each speech, FDR covers his distance in 518 words, while GWB takes 596. How big are the words? GWB uses an average of 16 syllables every ten words and 16 words per sentence, while FDR weighs in at 17 average syllables and close to 19 words per sentence. We hear smaller words, shorter sentences, and a longer speech from GWB in 2001 than from FDR in 1941. And remember, FDR’s was heard through radio; GWB’s was seen on television. One last word count shows a major difference in verbal responses to these two attacks. FDR spent a bit [...]…

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Word Brawling

2013-04-25

Want to see hundreds of expensively dressed men and women trading verbal punches? Look at any election for the United States Congress. Political slugfests also happen in Britain, Australia, Canada, and elsewhere. But the stunning thing about America’s particular free-for-all is how the disappearance of one small phrase can suddenly send incumbents scrambling to rewrite their battle plans. Only a few weeks before one election began unrolling, the president did the unthinkable to his fellow party politicians. He jettisoned a two-year old catchphrase that had united them in promoting an increasingly unpopular overseas war. Instantly and completely the sound bite, “Stay the Course”, disappeared from his speeches and statements. The president’s companion attack mantra “Cut and Run” disappeared as well. “Stay the Course” evoked the image of an unswerving ship’s captain. “Cut and Run” suggested a battlefield coward. “Stay the Course” first appeared in print in the mid 1880’s, and applied to a race horse’s ability to cross the finish line as a winner. By the end of World War I, politicians had reined it to their own purposes. “Cut and Run” was actually the nautical term and long an established military tactic used by sailing ships under sudden attack. It goes back over 200 years. To free a vessel for quick escape the anchor cable would be slashed, allowing it to fall into the sea as sails were raised. There is nothing like a war to generate political slogans. Recent hostilities have inspired presidential “We’ll Stand Down When They Stand Up”, and “Mission Accomplished”. The latter appeared as signage behind the president on the deck of an aircraft carrier. And “Protecting America” was posted at the signing table of the much-distrusted Military Commissions Act of 2006. But for raw power and simplicity, no one beats the ancient Roman, Cato. The senator became famous for closing all his speeches with the imperative, “Carthage Must Be Destroyed!” Rome eventually attacked. Election watchwords range from sweet to sarcastic, from personal praise to attacks and counter attacks. Sometimes they even take sides on an issue. Often developed by a campaign team of three to four people, they can be stabs in the dark, seeking to hit an emotion, evoke an impression, or trigger a voter’s mood such as optimism, anxiety , anger or apprehension. Many times, because they have the impossible task of being distinct and memorable while remaining vague, they fail. The beauty of a political slogan lies in its ability to imply much and say little. Consider this from the Scottish National Party: “The Power for Change” and “It’s Scotland’s Oil”. Or this from different parties in Canada: “Moving Forward” and “Someday is Now”. From Australia: “When It Matters” and “We’re for the Country”. In the UK the war of watchwords brought forth from the Labour Party “New Labour, New Life for Britain”, which was countered by the Conservatives with “New Labour, New Danger”. The mysterious appeared in “Britain Forward Not Back” and “Are You Thinking What We’re Thinking?”. And there was the especially irrelevant, “Proud of Britain”. But no place produces more sloganeering variety than America. How important is it there? [Thanks for joining us at EnglishMojo.com.] If cost is any indication, one group estimates that spending one season for 468 positions in Congress reached 2.6 billion dollars. That works out to nearly six million dollars per seat, and is said to average about $60 per vote in the Senate, and $35 per vote in the House. That’s a long way from the quaint 1840’s “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” and the beginnings of presidential campaigning. Americans have since gone through [...]You might also like:Ode to This ElectionAnalyzing Evil SpeechesShort Sword SlogansFluffy, Cream-Stuffed Campaign TricksProgress Is Our Most Important ProductThe Progress Mantra…

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Ode to This Election

2013-04-25

Words are a big part of the American experiment in democracy. To commemorate this we’ve assembled a collection of explanations about one year’s election into the following “Ode to This Election”. If you had to walk a gauntlet of politicos and pundits, each pushing a different view on you, this is what you might hear: This election is a two-horse race What’s important to me in this election is a vision This election is not about who’s best, who’s prudent, or who has the slickest TV ads This election is more intense This election is between you and me This election is about the future of this country This election is about my state This election is very significant for us, as a community This election is about our candidate and the good work she has done This election is about fixing health-care, providing education, protecting borders, balancing civil liberties with national security, and how best to prosecute the war This election, it is imperative to elect people with high moral values In this election, God is in control This election is a no-brainer This election is about honor, dignity and comity in this country This election is going to be all war, all the time This election is about a referendum on the war This election is about amnesty as much as about war or taxes This election is about power [Thanks for joining us at EnglishMojo.com.] This election is a decision between receding or advancing This election is about dealing with terrorism on the offense, or going back to being on the defense This election is bringing out of the closet the crowd who will say anything to get votes This election is a national intelligence test This election is all about which party has the most aggrieved victims This election is about creating a new majority in the Senate This election is about leadership, not party affiliation This election is worth $500 million, if it will get the Party back to controlling Congress This election is not worth $500 million to the voters; it is worth that to interest groups buying support for their causes This election is about the issues that we’re confronting right now This election is about a finishing of business, an older sort of politics This election is critical to the future of our country This election is about change; a big part of that change is energy security This election is about an electorate that is frustrated, dissatisfied, and just plain ready for change nationally This election is important because of an accumulation of power in the executive This election is being fought on the streets This election is about decency maybe more than anything else. This election is meaner, dirtier, and more divisive This election is not about race This election is a fight for the hearts and souls of black folks This election is not just about winning; it’s about working to change the country This election is all about winning This election is in jeopardy This election is going to be very, very close I can’t wait until this election is over…

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Short Sword Slogans

2013-04-25

One day not long ago nearly a million people went online to vote for one. A global computer maker recently launched one. And so did a brewery in Wales, a mega-church im Oklahoma, and a soccer club in Australia. The object of their attentions were slogans. What they launched were these: “Believe or burn”; “Remember, there was a time when you thought you wouldn’t like sex either”; “A Newport blonde goes down better”; and “Go far, keep your secrets close”. So, who launched which slogan? “Believe or burn” belongs to the soccer team. The remark about sex comes from the church. The Newport blonde – displayed in an ad as a model in fishnet stockings and hotpants – refers to a beer. And the computer maker encourages the secrecy. Slogans go by many names: tags, tag lines, end lines and straplines. They serve as indispensable short swords for politicians, corporations and everyone else aiming at the public’s attention. The word, slogan, originally meant a Scottish war cry. Everyday slogans serve as the battle shouts of modern commerce. Slogan-making leads to compact messaging, active at breaking through the consumer’s usual word associations. These shortswords are being sharpened to ever-finer edges meant to cut through our normal sense of English. The American Association of Advertising Agencies’ third year honoring slogans on its Madison Avenue Walk of Fame brought in those near-million votes including two that gained immense popularity. These two were the edgy “Just do it” for athletic shoes and “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk” for safe roads. But the slogans that consumers seemed to like most were: “Don’t mess with Texas”, for anti-littering; and “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight”, for delivery service. Advertising slogans began at least as long ago as the 1880’s, when an obscure bottled beverage was relesed under the simple two-word slogan, “Drink Coca-Cola”. [Thanks for joining us at EnglishMojo.com.] Coke’s slogan has since morphed into over 150 variations. Early on it was “For headache and exhaustion”. Then as the 20th Century opened, it became “The favorite drink for ladies when thirsty, weary, and despondent”. A United States under prohibition of alcohol saw it become “The Great National Temperance”, then “It will satisfy you”, and later “Thirst can’t be denied”. Dust-bowl depression provoked the term, “Ice-cold sunshine”. Then as the economy shifted upward, America heard, “Carry a smile back to work”. The Second World War saw “It’s the real thing”. The Vietnam Era brought an expansive “I’d like to buy the world a Coke”. Soon afterward post-war blues were offered “Look up America”, and “Coke adds life”. A succession of forgettable phrases followed in the 1980’s and 90’s until the vague “Life is Good” appeared in 2001. Whatever the slogan, one trend is strengthening: its writers are aiming increasingly at emotions and impulsive reactions. For copywriters, slogans fall into categories. Canadian Alan Sharpe indentified a list of these categories. They include: Ask a Question, as in Clairol’s “Does she or doesn’t she?”; Link a Product Feature with an Abstract Need, as in DeBeers’ famous “A diamond is forever”; and Make a Compelling Promise, as in Federal Express’s “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight”. Slogans can provide miniature fantasy scripts, triggering our brains to produce mental micro-movies, full of imagery and emotions. A slogan can be created for just about any mood. For bold seduction, consider Venere Hotel Reservations’ “Sleep with us!”. To generate anxiety-driven hope, try Lenovo Computers’ “New World. New Thinking.” Looking for homey comfort? Motel 6 generated “We’ll leave the light on for you.” How about helpless fear? [...]You might also like:The Ask, Link, Promise of SlogansThe Candidates’ MantrasWord BrawlingThe Progress MantraA Country’s Favorite WordsProgress Is Our Most Important Product…

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Out of India

2013-04-25

Three languages battle to dominate over a billion people. English has made India a world player. The country is an outsourcing king, especially among publishers. Read a book or visit a web site, and there’s a chance that some part of it was produced or serviced in India. How strong is English in India today? What forces oppose it? And which way is the struggle for language dominance going? Every day on their subcontinent nearly 150 million Indians read 8,000 domestically-published English language newspapers. The circulations of some are undeniably world-class. The most striking example is Number Six on the global Top Ten list of daily newspapers in English, the Times of India, which outranks both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. English language books, too, are big. Only the US and the UK publish more than India, which releases 20,000 titles a year, more than a fourth of the country’s total production. China can produce goods cheaper, but India’s unrivaled second language experience gives it an edge in the global business of information industry outsourcing. Worldwide, publishers outsource to the tune of a couple billion dollars. So, Delhi caters to book giants like Macmillan and Thomson Press. Geography, which for generations hindered development on the subcontinent, now conspires with English. Together in the digital age, they produce a situation of high value timing. Now call centers and web sites are milking the difference in time zones. News portal CNET, for example, uses Indians to keep its news site fresh when HQ staff back home in the States are sleeping. Consider the huge effect the language has on India in the 21st Century. You might think it gets protected status there. But far from securing its place, English is being challenged in the world’s next most populous country. [Thanks for joining us at EnglishMojo.com.] The premier challenger to Indian English is Hindi. These two languages cooperated for two and a half centuries to dominate the vast subcontinent. But early signs of a change show Hindi emerging as the possible lingua franca of the literate in India. Penguin Books India, which always only published in English recently launched its first publishing program in Hindi. Hindi is already spoken by four to five times as many Indians as any other native language including Bengali, Tamil or Telugu. On the global scale -if you count only native speakers – Hindi appears even larger than English. But big as it is, this potential English-killer has failed to win over the large non-Hindi regions of the country. In the south English remains the lingua franca. No one can say for certain how this struggle will turn out. It is possible that these two leviathans languages may have to yield to yet a third force, their own offspring. “Hinglish” is the name given to English spiced with Hindi vocabulary, or to Hindi syntax supplemented with English. It’s currently popular among the Indian middle class. So advertisers – who might otherwise choose either Hindi or English – are using Hinglish. Their reasoning: though they might be understood well enough in either of the two languages, the hybrid offspring gives them maximum connection with their audiences. As a result Indian advertising from most multinational corporations is filled with Hinglish. In previous generations many Indians grew up thinking that if you can’t speak perfect English, you shouldn’t speak it at all. But now market power has shifted to the young. To them, being understood outclasses being correct. This new attitude opens the door wide for the mix that is Hinglish. English, Hindi or Hinglish for India, [...]You might also like:The New # 1Billion Dollar OutsourcingA New #1 Overtakes the HomelandsDominating LanguageThe New Words We HateA Surge in the Capital…

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Presidential Speeches Analyzed

2013-04-25

New White House speechwriters-in-chief always change the speech of the US president. They cleverly modify his highest profile messages through the words they allocate to him and how often he repeats them. The State of the Union address reveals text patterns introduced by new speechwriting staff. It’s often a script to fight the bitter pressure of political realities: a faltering war, the loss of control of Congress by the president’s party, or a falling public approval rating. The State of the Union is part requirement, part tradition. The president finds this directive in his job description from Article 2 of the US Consitution: “He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Actual presentation of an in-person speech before Congress has fallen in and out of favor from the time of George Washington. But it’s been in vogue for the past quarter century. It amounts to an executive summary by the CEO of the country. As such it’s as likely to be filled with visionary fantasy as hard facts, as likely a report of the nation’s condition as an Oval Office wish list, as likely to make political posturings as to rally national concensus. By examining beyond the literal statements in the State of the Union addresses of 2002 and 2007 we can see striking differences in the underlying messages of their word patterns. One thing that stands out clearly between the two years and the change of scriptwriters between them, and that is that more is better. The State of the Union address had become jammed with more words and heavier sentences. The count in 2007 shows 50% more words than in 2002. Forty percent more sentences appear. And these are 5% heavier with words. But the simplest and most powerful emphasis is achieved by repeating. By checking word counts we can look inside what the president intended to stress in each of these two speeches. [Thanks for taking this article from EnglishMojo.com.] In the 2002 address – after the invasion of Afghanistan, but before the invasion of Iraq – his longest repeated phrases were: this is a regime that has (about iraq) and I hope you will join me, each uttered twice.   In the 2007 address, he doubled up on with health insurance will pay no income (talking about taxes) a future of hope and opportunity requires. Other phrases he favored in 2002 included: September the 11th, 5 times weapons of mass destruction, 4 times and of course, the American people, 4 times. The number of phrases repeated in 2007 declined. Still he managed to include: we need to, 8 mentions the Middle East, 5 mentions private health insurance, 4 mentions war on terror, 4 mentions and of course, the American people, 4 mentions. For 2007 his team laid on distinctive word pairs heavily. In 2002 word pairs were mostly general, such as: the best, 6 times, and my budget, 5 times. By 2007 the leading pairs had become more concrete as health insurance got 11 references, in Iraq got 10, and Al Qaeda, received 10 references. Among the president’s favorite terms, the most distinctive word shifted from security at 19 mentions in 2002, to health with 18 mentions in 2007. If words were all that mattered, then great progress had been made because terror and terrorist(s) declined from 38 references to 21. But, righteousness appears to have suffered as good dropped from 13 to 7 times. On the other hand, the world might be [...]…

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The New # 1

2013-04-25

A huge country where people speak 850 languages is home to six times as many English speakers as the birthplace of the language. This is not the United States. The world has experienced a cross-over in recent years. Today non-native speakers of English outnumber native speakers.A single Asian country has more people using the language than the US and the UK combined. That country is India. How did that happen? Why aren’t these Indians bypassing English for one of their home-grown tongues. And how many now use English? Several nations around the world use English as a second language, but India is unique in having a long and intense exposure. A couple dozen generations ago, the language was limited to fewer than ten million islanders in the North Atlantic. But – greatly helped by armies, navies, publishers, broadcasters, movie and music studios – it has spread amazingly far. How did India, so distant from the source, become such the runaway success for English? The situation began even before Americans started to break away from England. From 1765 until 1947 the British Raj government enforced English for all teaching and administration. When independence came, it was followed by a government move away from English. The constitution declared Hindi to be the new country’s official language. For a region that’s home to over 800 other active languages, this was a bold move, which seemed to mark the end of English in India. [Thanks for joining us at EnglishMojo.com.] Hindi, however, was and is spoken by less than half of the country, mostly in the north. On the other hand English was already well established throughout the country. So, to keep the country running, nation builders of that day fitted the constitution with a language change-over plan. In 15 years English would be phased out. Hindi, it was reasoned, would be left standing as the single official language. By the mid 1960’s as the deadline drew near many Indians, especially non-Hindi-speakers in the south, protested. Hindi, they insisted, would not be welcome as a sole official language. Keep English, they demanded. In the end the prime minister backed down. English, he allowed, could continue as an official working language until the states were ready to accept Hindi. Generations later that day has yet to come. Today among many educated Indians, English is almost a first language. They speak not – as you might imagine – a mixture of Indian language and English. Instead their speech follows the style of the British Broadcasting Company, sometimes with impressive ornateness. The many private schools and colleges – run as they often are by missionaries – teach English as a first language. The resulting standards of Indian English have been high. High enough to produce world-renown English-language writers such as Salman Rushdie. Widely accepted estimates ascribe English to about 350 million Indians, more than to Chinese, Europeans, or even Americans.…

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Korean Tongue Surgery

2013-04-25

How far should someone go to speak perfect English? In Northeast Asia, some people have done things never imagined by native speakers. In centuries-old cultures a generation has tried to master a foreign language that has impossibly unfamiliar sounds, an entirely distinct alphabet, and a base of vastly different traditions. Millions of Japanese, Taiwanese and Koreans of all ages spend much of their lives and lots of their money in the feverish pursuit of English mastery. In every city and most towns of Japan for example you’re never far from an English language school. Every bookstore in this country sports a large section of how to learn English books, going into finer points of grammar that frankly most native speakers will never grasp. And every foreigner outside a city center is greeted by children shyly shouting “hello”. In the countries of Northeast Asia it is for – or rather on – the children that the bulk of the push toward English has focused. Even children age three and earlier have been put into English instruction, in tandem with that of their native language. But no one has attacked English more ferociously than the South Koreans. The national and state governments have made English mandatory in schools and built a series of English-only villages. Pregnant women have been directed by video programs to inject English into their unborn babies by speaking or playing nursery rhymes to the womb. Mothers migrated with their children in search of language classes in the USA. When immigration rules closed that opportunity, they relocated to Canada, Australia, Malaysia and the Philippines. It didn’t stop there. Koreans turned on their children, next. They share with the Japanese a difficulty in pronouncing several of the common sounds of English, most famously “r” and “l”. “Rice” can sound like “lice”. And “lots of luck” can come out “rots of ruck”. As a result, some upwardly mobile parents have turned to frenulotomy as an answer. The frenulum linguae is a bit of tissue under the tongue that attaches it to the bottom of the mouth. Some call it a tendon. You can see it in a mirror by pressing the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth. It’s that taut strand of cord that keeps your tongue from flopping backward. Frenulotomy is the cutting of this tissue. It is performed in just three relatively rare situations. The first is in cases of tongue deformities. Surgeons sometimes trim the frenulum to alleviate severe speech impediments. The second is in a special yogic practice where it is sliced back to free up the tongue. Why? So the practitioner can turn the tongue backward and up into the nasal passage. Oooooo! Not something to think about. The third and remaining case is when some anxious Korean parents have their children’s frenulum cut to improve their English pronunciation. The idea behind linguistic frenulotomies – tongue cutting – is that the Korean tongue is ill-suited for proper English. An ear, nose and throat specialist in Seoul was reported advising it for children under 5 years of age with short or inflexible tongues. Such is the passion for English in Korea that the national government there produced a film condemning tongue cutting as human rights abuse. Does it work? More importantly, is it even necessary? Consider: First, the procedure takes as little as ten minutes and costs as much as $400. Second, the Korean ears – or brains – are untrained to detect the distinction between r’s and l’s. Third, hundreds of thousands of Korean-Americans can speak unaccented English just fine without the [...]…

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Which language rules the world

2013-04-24 :: English Mojo --- THIS SITE BEING RENOVATED -- Join us April 27 for the changes.
Length: 2s

Who speaks English around the world? How does it rank among the world’s languages? And how many words are there in it? We explore this and more in this episode.…

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Exposing Sub-Texts in Politicians

2013-04-24

Big money came to American presidential contest in 2008, breaking the psychological barrier of a billion dollars and making it the most expensive ever. And, as a result, the wordiest. The billion-dollar-bankroll stimulated great flows of rhetoric from contenders in pursuit of the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The major party candidates, the funds and the great word mass they support were attracted to the huge honeypot of registered voters. That billion dollars works out to about eight dollars per voter, money for campaign teams to build the candidates’ brands, in other words money for marketing. The leading 17 contenders included a gaggle of senators and, standing in the wings, a senator/actor. This last should have come as no surprise to anyone. After all a senator is an actor with a captive audience, an unlimited budget and dozens of silent partners. The main distinction of senators is that they talk about themselves, what they want to be associated with, and the impact they imagine they have, even more than actors do. They are also highly practiced at working in subtexts, those messages within the message, those deliberately unobvious parts of statements they most want remembered. Like all good pitchmen, the candidates can be expected to follow the first rule of marketing, wherever possible – in their speeches, in their advertising, on their web sites. This rule is: repeat, repeat, repeat. Let me say that again. The first rule of… OK, you get the picture. Because the conscious mind in easily numbed by repetition, subliminal subtexts and buried messages are favored and appear, over and over. But verbiage wrapped around the candidates’ messages came with lots of emotional filler, zestfully picked up by the media from New York to New South Wales, from Neukölln to New Delhi. With such a big field of candidates and so much verbiage, could anyone escape the verbosity, and glimpse the underlying message? That brings us to the latest battleground where Big Money Verbiage faces off against Free Web Technology. A number of tools appeared on the Internet before the 2008 election. We found some that could be adapted to make more sense of the wordage. Called “text analyzers”, we used them to do the heavy lifting of extracting subtexts from verbiage. They are far-flung online services like the Topicalizer by Björn Wilmsmann, and the Text Analyzer by Mladen Adamovic, designed for different purposes altogether. However, applied guerrilla-fashion in an approach I call the “EnglishMojo Subtexting Process”, or ESP for short, we used them to crunch down the rhetoric of the candidates, peel off the excess filler, and have a look at the simple subtexts underneath. Here’s how our ESP worked: In goes the raw text, copied and pasted from the Internet. We run it through these verbiage processors. Then with a little human intervention we extract the repeated subtexts. The results can be eye-opening. A politician or his minions can serve up the usual 20 minutes worth of vague polysyllabic, “blah, blah, blah, blah”, and the ESP can cull through the word mass left behind and translate it into “no new taxes” or “he cares” or whatever was the real message he wanted to leave you with. As a literary investigation, ESP is rough and lacks nuance. But hey, this is politics. And the advantage was knowing with seconds what a candidate was really aiming at your head. Imagine what could happen if candidates were confronted with the messages they’re machines propagated over the course of their campaigns. And imagine doing this without having to swallow and digest the noxious, oversweetened, plumped up word mass! [...]…

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Liar, Liar

2013-04-24

Often when they sense prevarication, journalists begin walking a line in their reports just short of calling someone a liar. In the case of one vice presidential nominee’s speech some of the euphemisms offered up were noteworthy. There were ‘issues with some of the facts’ and ‘fact checkers will have some opportunities to dispute’. Another cited ‘pretty heavy inaccuracies’, which oddly tries to make statements sound suspect, while succeeding in making them sound weighty. The team over at The Week has assembled a convenient list of 15 euphemisms for ‘lying’. It centers around the case of a politico who wants to be vice president being caught – surprise! – playing fast and loose with the truth. Tasked with covering the candidate Paul Ryan’s speech, reporters couldn’t swallow it without commenting on the treatment of fact in it. A CEO I once worked for also had a habit of bending the truth, stretching credibility, twisting facts and otherwise playing loose with reality. His specialty was the half-truth. Once, coming out of a meeting room, the CEO was questioned by one of our programmers as several of us shuffled out. Shaking his head, the coder asked, “Do you actually believe what you just said?” To this he replied, blinking bright-eyed, “What? There’s SOME truth in it.” Some being a large enough serving for him. My personal favorites in The Week’s list are ‘factual shortcuts’ and ‘factually shaky’. The first conjures the image of rambunctious boys cutting across a back yard. the second suggests an ancient grandmother trying out her cane on a freshly-waxed floor. Find the whole set at The Week.…

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How to Tell a Funny Story

2013-04-24

“The humorous story is American, the comic story is English, the witty story is French. The humorous story depends for its effect upon the MANNER of the telling; the comic story and the witty story upon the MATTER.” -  Mark Twain  No one has had better grasp on the art of the funny story than Mark Twain. In October 1895 The Youth’s Companion magazine published a article that pulled back the covers on his views. “How to Tell a Story” attempts to show how to spin a funny tale without spinning out of control. But does it? We live in immensely faster times, under pressures inconceivable in Twain’s time. At the same time, we’re as human as people in his time. Humor Versus Comedy Twain said that, “The humorous story may be spun out to great length, and may wander around as much as it pleases, and arrive nowhere in particular; but the comic and witty stories must be brief and end with a point. The humorous story bubbles gently along, the others burst.” Maybe he’s right. Look at the bada-bing shock gags of most standup comedians to see comic and witty stories at work. On the other hand, at the same time they string the audience along with a deliberate persona, like the hapless lover, the annoyed urbanite, the bewildered parent, the pissed off rebel. “The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it; but the teller of the comic story tells you beforehand that it is one of the funniest things he has ever heard,… the teller of the comic story does not slur the nub; he shouts it at you–every time.” The Comic Method Twain’s example of the comic method was an anecdote had been making the rounds in his day: THE WOUNDED SOLDIER  In the course of a certain battle a soldier whose leg had been shot off appealed to another soldier who was hurrying by to carry him to the rear, informing him at the same time of the loss which he had sustained; whereupon the generous son of Mars, shouldering the unfortunate, proceeded to carry out his desire. The bullets and cannon-balls were flying in all directions, and presently one of the latter took the wounded man’s head off–without, however, his deliverer being aware of it. In no long time he was hailed by an officer, who said:  “Where are you going with that carcass?”  “To the rear, sir–he’s lost his leg!”  “His leg, forsooth?” responded the astonished officer; “You mean his head, you booby.”  Whereupon the soldier dispossessed himself of his burden, and stood looking down upon it in great perplexity. At length he said:  “It is true, sir, just as you have said.” Then after a pause he added, “BUT HE TOLD ME IT WAS HIS LEG!!!!!”  Twain was a fan of the American humorous story, vastly superior as he saw it to simple comic stories like this. ” It takes only a minute and a half to tell that in its comic-story form… Put into the humorous-story form it takes ten minutes, and is about the funniest thing I have ever listened to–as James Whitcomb Riley tells it.” The Humor Method “He tells it in the character of a dull-witted old farmer who has just heard it for the first time, thinks it is unspeakably funny, and is trying to repeat it to a neighbor. But he can’t remember it; so he gets all mixed up and wanders helplessly round and round, putting [...]…

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A Country’s Favorite Words

2013-04-24

To see into the hearts and minds of a people, you can do worse than to look at the word they hold most dear. No so long ago two thousand Brits weighed in with their favorite word in a poll conducted by a game maker. We discovered the 20 that rank highest in this UK survey. The number one popular favorite is beyond guessing. So we’ll keep you in suspense by starting from number 20 and working our way up to the favorite and peeling back the onion of the British psyche layer by layer. Number 20 is understandably, kiss, a term recalling for most of us affection, passion, even dreamy comfort. Just above it in popularity come freedom, bed, cosy, peace, lush, and lovely. Is there a pattern emerging here? But soon enough at number 13we find the word, wicked. Number 12 departs from Anglo-Saxon with a Latinate adjective, and an odd choice in the 21st century, incandescent. Above it was the thing many of us live for, the weekend. Next entering the top ten, we encounter -are you ready?- onomatopoeia, which in case you’ve forgotten, means a word that contains or suggests the sound it describes. Then even more favored come cool, fabulous, squishy -really?- happy and excellent. But maybe the biggest surprise is that the fourth ranking favorite word in the UK is a relatively recent Americanism, discombobulated. Number three is of course, mum. And right above her the word, love. Which brings us to number one, the word most favored by the largest number of Britons, a word that might shed some light on their inner identity, their common bond, their shared vision. Perhaps if affords a glimpse into the soul of that people. The most prevailing favorite word in Britain has ancient roots and unknown origins. Michael Quinion does an interesting treatment of it over at World Wide Words. Some suggest it came from the Latin term “non compos”, others that it’s derived from the name of the man who questioned Jesus, Nicodemus, and still others that it began in a Dutch phrase, “nicht om poep”. Whatever its origin, the word that echoes as the favorite in the land of Shakespeare and Milton, in the realm of Monty Python and Mr. Bean, the one word that the British today place at the top of their list is none other than “nincompoop”. What more can you say?…

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Fluffy and Fact-Free

2013-04-24

Campaigns perhaps never die. Their gibberish just echoes on and on. “In a world where evil still exists…now is the time, this is the place…for our families, for our future, for America.” Is this a scary action film trailer, or the 60-second campaign commercial of Mitt Romney? “We know what needs to be done… in this room right now…it’s time.” Does this come from an inspirational self-help guru, or the 30-second campaign commercial of John Edwards? See the ads come apart as FactCheck.org tears through this pair of presidential campaign hopefuls over the coals in its analysis, 99% Fact-Free.You might also like:The Me, Me, Me CampaignFluffy, Cream-Stuffed Campaign TricksBig Money CampaigningWord BrawlingThe Candidates’ MantrasAnalyzing Evil Speeches…

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Drug Superstars

2013-04-24

Save our life and you’ll get thanks, respect and veneration. But bring us pleasure or enhance our lifestyles and we’ll be yours forever. Drug makers have noticed this acutely. They now market a kind of pharmaceutical that can be called the lifestyle drug. This includes medicines developed to treat problems that didn’t exist before, at least in our awareness. Previously thought of as purely psychological or a common consequence of maturity, these problems have been relabeled as syndromes and disorders . The drugs that treat them have in some cases become blockbuster products. One way to make them into blockbusters is via asemantic naming. Generally, asemantic, or never-before-used words or word fragments, stand a better chance of passing government approval. They convey no perceived meaning. However in the world of lifestyle drugs, spin doctors also need to appeal directly to patients. Their dilemma is how to pass the inspectors’ scrutiny on the names while attracting users and their physicians. Enter relational names. These are labels that can connect in some way to the condition being treated. Or they suggests images of desired results. With deep-pocket public-awareness campaigns to promote these names, they’ve got to be durable enough to stand up outside doctors’ offices, something not generally demanded of their asemantic counterparts. How do the names gain recognition? For medications prescribed for the dreaded men’s malady, erectile dysfunction, superstars in the sports world come to mind. One such drug climbed onto the shoulders of Major League Baseball. Another rode the carts of the Professional Golf Association Tour. Yet another huddled with the National Football League. Their emblems have also appeared at prominent yacht and car racing events. Clever naming and brand positioning has treated the embarrassment of an embarrassing male condition by turning it into a superstar activity. By inventing and associating the names with youthful masculinity, speed, and power, focus has been shifted from a problem to a celebration of aspiration. Two of the names of these male lifestyle drugs are revealing. To many, Viagra suggests the endurance and force of Niagara Falls. It’s competitor Levitra combines the root word for life, the appealing idea of levitation or rising with the phonic rhythm of the word, libido. With heavy advertising backing them, these names sell not only the drug, but also introduce a new condition into the vernacular. And this feeds an expanding spiral of awareness, hope, social acceptance, purchase. Lifestyle enhancement of this type sells well around the world. But in the age of the global competition, can one name be the brand of choice for a whole world? Apparently not. In the huge anything-goes market of India more than one drug company has copied these prized pharmaceuticals. To sell them, new names have been developed. The Indian male performance enhancer goes by the handle of Silagra. For Latin America the name Tarzia was considered, but Eviva ultimately prevailed. In the Middle East, it became plain and simple Erecto. Before departing the drug-addled world of name-smithing, here are the answers to the question raised in EM 28, Which are the real, and which the fictional drug names? Norvasc & Novril: The real drug is Norvasc, a treatment for hypertension and chest pain. Novril is a highly-addictive fictional Steven King analgesic. Qualex & Seroquel: The real drug is Seroquel, an antipsychotic medication for schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. Qualex is a comic MadTV housewife tranquilizer. Klonopin & Retinax: The real drug is Klonopin, used for treating seizures and panic disorder. Retinax is a Star Trek cure for far sightedness. Tretonin & Diazepam: The real drug is Diazepam, the generic form of [...]…

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Drug Superheroes

2013-04-24

In each of these pairs of drug names one is actual, one is fictional. Can you tell which is which? Fans of Stephen King, MadTV and Star Trek will have an advantage. The choices: Norvasc & Novril; Qualex & Seroquel; Klonopin & Retinax; and Tretonin & Diazepam. In the third and final part of this series, Lifestyle Superstars, we’ll share the answers. Nothing short of wild success will satisfy today’s prescription drug marketers. That’s why pharmaceutical makers – surpassing even new parents’ efforts at naming a baby – lay out between $250,000 to $2.5 million for developing just one name of each new trademarked drug. With these high stakes, imagine the intense pressures on wordsmiths toiling behind the scenes. Drug names after all stand a one-in-three chance of government rejection. So the name-makers then often prepare a whole batch of new names to offer. As the name-making process proceeds, marketing researchers turn to hundreds of paid volunteers for reactions. Graphologists, too, analyze mock prescriptions for possible confusions. And clinicians and patients rate the names for impressions. Developers take several approaches. They can, for instance, invent names that conjure up experiences of the target market. This approach results in names like Wellburtrin or Celebrex. They can also try to evoke memories, stories and other types of association, and produce names such as Soma or Viagra. Sometimes the name harks back to the drug’s function, as in the case of Lipitor. And then they have the usual linguistic bag of tricks. Do you want speed? Use fricatives like F, S, X or Z. These sound fast, as in Xanax or Zocor. Want power? Put in plosive letters like P, T or D, as in Tramadol or Paxil. Offering a lifestyle enhancer? Softness might work best by using C, S or L, as in Lunesta or Celebrex. Name-makers sometimes make choices by transposing letters from another word into anagrams, and sometimes they conjure up palindromes so that the name spells the same forwards and backwards, as in Xanax. And you might notice that many pharmaceuticals either use the action-suggestive verb-common letter R, or contain a verb-sounding element inside themselves. Some of the latest names to be approved show signs of all these tactics: - Exelon Patch - Exforge - Nuvigil - Xyzal - Soliris - and a personal favorite, Perforomist In the world of pharmaceuticals, name-makers seldom take their eyes offtheir prize, the target market. Commercial messages direct to consumers on television appear more often for medicines than for new cars in the US. So as rigorously guarded as brands of big pharma product names are, the drugs themselves will sometimes be repackaged under entirely new names when new market segments are discovered. The drug has essentially had its personality split. Such is the case with the pharmaceutical, Fluoxetine. As the famous anti-depressant Prozac, its white and green pills offered strength and speed. But when a different market was identified – women with severe premenstrual problems – the drug underwent a sex change to appear in a softer second form as pink and lavender pills known as Sarafem. This leads toward a new type of name for a new type of drug. Emerging lifestyle drugs and their monikers are designed to address desires rather than medical necessities. They may even be positioned with other brands and activities far outside the pharmaceutical world. If the lifesaving drugs are the superheroes, the lifestyle drugs are the superstars. In the upcoming Drug Superstars, we’ll look at some of these new drugs, and the ways their names spread around the world.…

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The Power of Drug Names

2013-04-24

Recognize characters in the following short scene? Paxil faced Crestor saying, “Xanax of Lipitor seeks the Neurontin.” Hearing this, Zoloft rose from Levitra, dropped his Lyrica and crossed the Cialis to heave an Effexor into Zocor. The Celebrex cheered, “All hail Voltaren”. Names like these suggest superheroes and other larger than life figures. But you may have already guessed that these names belong to popular pills and medications. Creating drug names that imply strength, power, speed and youth has become a big challenge and a big business this decade. How big, we’ll see in this series. What happens when pharmaceutical companies coin a new medicine’s moniker? How do they create the names of their bestsellers? What obstacles stand in the way of a new name? Actual naming begins two to three years before the pharmaceutical comes to market. At this early stage drug marketers naturally seek names on their products powerful and unique enough to attract both doctors and patients, names that say, “improved quality of life”. To secure these their name-makers must get past governmental checkpoints. Many times this is possible only by subtlety and indirection. All of the 9,000 generic and 33,000 trademarked US medications, from Aciphex to Zyrtec-D, run the same gauntlet on their way to launch. Every drug that comes to market will carry three names. First comes the chemical name, a scientific designation based on the compound. Next appears a generic name that’s used throughout the life of the drug. And lastly comes the trade name that’s marketed by the drug manufacturer. These last are the ones we know the best, because their makers promote them heavily during 17 years of exclusive rights. The first hurdle for the next Viagra or Lipitor is securing that generic name. For with it comes permission to test on animals. The group that assigns generic drug names, the U.S. Adopted Names Council, insists that each name have only one pronunciation and no more than four syllables. To try for approval a drug maker can submit up to three candidate names at a time. The name can neither suggest a cure nor a specific part of the body. And it must distinguish itself from other generic or trade drugs on the market. Does any name stand a chance? Not always. Sometimes the Names Council will impose a spelling moratorium, as it did on the letters X and Z as first letters because they sound so much alike. After generic approval stands the obstacle of getting a trade name. This is the money-maker, and drug marketers will try to invent one that’s easy to remember. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as well as the Patent and Trademark Office have final say in what goes on the market. Essentially the FDA prohibits names that promise a drug will be effective. Here’s where contracted branding consultants earn their living, trying to make just the right name to fit their pharmaceutical clients’ marketing ambitions into the government restrictions. [Take a look at the other free stories, audios, videos and subscriptions at EnglishMojo.com.] This name generation is no trivial task, as every year the FDA rejects a third of hundreds proposed. The agency sets up screenings of names in which health-care professionals look for problems that might arise by examining written and verbal orders. Even variations in regional pronunciations come under scrutiny. These strictures often lead to a bending of the original name choice. The now famous hair-regrowth drug would initially have been christened Regain. But as this reportedly too much resembled a guarantee, its ultimate choice became Rogain. Millions of dollars, hundreds [...]…

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Fluffy, Cream-Stuffed Campaign Tricks

2013-04-24

You can be sure that campaign tricks are seldom forgotten by people in the business of politics. Obama, McCain, Clinton, Giuliani were once the leading deep-pocket candidates in 2008. Their hyperactive teams worked on new public statements daily. Were there mesmerizing messages inside their statements? Nothing these three senators and an ex-mayor released matched the powerful prose of Abe Lincoln or ML King, Jr. But strip off the outer husk of their palaver, though, and you’ll see remarkably similar and persistent subtexts from all four. To do this we’re going to bypass the rhetoric and lay bare what the candidates are repeating most. We saw how a little device, the EnglishMojo Subtext Process (ESP), cuts through verbiage and exposes underlying subtexts. We’ll use it to examine how each of these front-runners confronted the issues for that election. First we focus on one of the more traditional campaigners, Hillary. Her web site encouraged the first name familiarity through its heading, “Hillary for President”. “Hillary for President” offered no summary on the issues, but here’s a look at an item from the middle of her list. It’s titled, RESTORING AMERICA’S STANDING IN THE WORLD. I began reading her team’s statement, “Americans are ready for a leader who will restore America’s reputation in the world, and Hillary is prepared to lead America back in the right…” At this point “mego”, which every journalist will recognize as “my eyes glazed over”, and drowsiness began to overtake me. Unable to read further I turned to the ESP, copied the full statement and fed it in. A few seconds later I discovered the following. Judging from the repetitions of her words, the “world” was important to Hillary, and so was “America”. But her statement repeated another word even more often, and that was “Hillary” herself. Next, McCain came under scrutiny. The header on his web site called him simply “McCain”. It had an earthy ring, and suggested a Hollywood figure who stands up for justice in a cruel world, like a weather-beaten cowboy or your favorite rogue cop. McCain did have a summary of issues. So, I began reading, “America’s economic progress requires that the federal government abide by the same standards of common sense and fiscal restraint as…” Gosh! Overwhelming mego. What does McCain want me to remember most? Feeding his issues into our ESP revealed the most repeated phrase on the page was…”John McCain”. Perhaps the independent-posed Obama’08 would prove different. At his Overview of Issues web page, I read, “Senator Obama has been able to develop innovative approaches to challenge the status quo and get results.” OK. This sounded promising. “Americans are tired of divisive ideological politics, which is why Senator Obama has reached out to Republicans to find areas of common ground. He has tried to break partisan logjams and…” The cliché density proved too much for me and again I succumed to mego. On waking, I scrambled for the ESP. You might guess the results. Warm and fuzzy terms “common ground”, “health care” and “strong families” were repeated, but ultimately yielded to the eight times more persistent term…”Senator Obama”. [ Thanks for joining us at EnglishMojo.com ] Leaving behind the senators put me on the trail of His Honor, the former Mayor of September 11 New York City. His web site too shouted a first name, “Rudy”. Rudy, had a position summary his team called “On the Issues”. His overview started with “FISCAL DISCIPLINE”, “Before Rudy was elected Mayor, tax-and-spend policies created billion-dollar deficits and led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in New York City. Rudy restored [...]…

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ENGLISH MOJO being rebuilt from the ground up.

2013-04-20

We’ll have the new site up by April 27, with even more great articles and shows coming.…

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The New Words We Hate

2013-04-20

From time to time in the gaps between wars, corruption, elections and celebrity gossip the media shifts its roving spotlight toward the latest new words heard around the planet. What follows this is a flurry of coverage on lists of new, favorite and odd words. Time to panic, some pundit will tell us. We’re made to feel we’re loosing our way in the English-speaking world, if we don’t know this new argot. Anyone who believes this ia faced with the problem of how to remember the new lingo. Well, there are techniques to do this. Recently when an EnglishMojo reader in India asked for our assistance, we sketched out a simple method, which takes only about a minute to master. We’ll outline it here. But first, let’s put these word lists and their contents into perspective. In George Orwell’s 1984 the state’s word-making authority says: “You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We’re destroying words – scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We’re cutting the language down to the bone.” Neologism lists often contain new words that are in fact not new words at all, but rather just familiar words strung together into new phrases. Consider these from past decades: Jet Lag, Quiz Show and Displaced Person. Other phrases have fallen into obscurity. But these have endured. Why? Maybe because each was a truly new concept. Individual words can be borrowed from other languages, or they can be glued together out of word fragments. The useful ones last – like Bikini, Infomercial, Superchurch and even Orwell’s Doublespeak. Why so long-lived? It could be because the mind seizes nothing more tightly than it does a fresh idea. Some new forms are plain embarrassing, nothing more than play-on-words substitutes. Look at this lumpy thing, Celebutante. It’s from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary and means a celebrity well known in fashionable society. Consider the awkwardness and ugliness of Ginormous, another “frankenword” (Oh, did I just coin a new word?). It’s an embarrassing hybrid of Gigantic and Enormous. Some editors become intoxicated by their penchant for puns. In their drunken state they abet the ransacking of English language DNA. And so we see genetically-modified creations as Irritainment, Bromance and Earjacking. What about favorite word lists? They sometimes turn out to be based on dubious or limited surveys. And those lists of odd words? What are they but fading curiosities? “Work these words into your conversation,” say certain dictionary editors, English professors and other assorted word mongers. But why should we? Are they worth remembering? English already provides half million words to compete against. Consider that word, Earjacking. What does it offer over Eavesdropping? Earjacking does sound cool and provocative the first time round. Try using it six, eight, ten times and see if you still like it. Maybe before we toss a new word into our busy memories, we need to assay it, to ask, does it add something new? Or is it just ear candy? [Thanks for taking this feature from EnglishMojo.com. Remember, there’s more on the web site.] I have a little insight to offer here, from a few years consulting and training in publishing, and from having been on both sides of learning a second language. My clients – both native and foreign English speakers – while learning professional publishing, writing, conversation and questioning skills have had to master an overwhelming number of new words and new concepts. Trying to learn a new word – or a new concept for that matter – all by itself is [...]…

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Calling someone a liar

2012-09-06

In case you missed it, the team over at The Week has done some heavy lifting and assembled a convenient list of 15 euphemisms for ‘lying’. The article describes a politico who wants to be vice president being caught - surprise! - playing fast and loose with the truth. A wide range of journalists tasked [...]…

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The King of Political Speeches?

2008-05-25

Many listeners and readers of this site recently said their interests tend toward both politics and speeches. For oratory of the first quality, few can rival the longtime senator from Massachusetts. Though many in Washington argue with his politics, Ted K…

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EM 32 - New Word Memory Palace

2008-02-08 :: JK - Editor in Chief
Length: 11s

Download Episode 32 - New Word Memory Palace Into the narrow news gap between this year’s elections, wars, corruption and celebrity gossip, the media has shifted a momentary spotlight toward the latest in words. So, we find a flurry of coverage on new words, on favorite words, on odd words. These are key words they say [...]…

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EM 31 - Stories for Future Presidents

2008-01-29 :: JK - Editor in Chief
Length: 14s

Download Episode 31 - Stories for Future Presidents Up against all the hazards already in the world, we now find ourselves blinded by that recurring snowstorm of story-telling known as the US presidential campaign. An avalanche of these talks is trying to push us to believe that each of the would-be American presidents is a hero - [...]…

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Top 7 of the Year

2007-12-31

In case you missed these, here’s a countdown of the most popular Mojo episodes of 2007. In the seventh most popular episode on the list, Newest Campaign Tricks Part 2, we explored the mysteries of …

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EM 30 - The UK’s Favorite Word

2007-12-14 :: JK - Editor in Chief
Length: 7s

Download Episode 30 - The UK's Favorite Word If you want to see into the hearts and minds of a people, your chance came recently with the British. Two thousand Brits each just weighed in with their favorite word in a poll conducted by a game maker. The 20 highest ranking favorites made their way into [...]…

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Approve This Message

2007-12-09

“In a world where evil still exists…now is the time, this is the place…for our families, for our future, for America.” From the scary new action film trailer, or the 60-second campaign commercial of Mitt Romney? “We know what needs to be done… in this room right now…it’s time.” From an inspirational self-help group, or …

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Latest on Celebrity Apologies

2007-10-27

Celebrities are again taking a beating in the media. Not long ago How Celebrities Say Sorry looked at the strange world of media apologies. EnglishMojo visitors loved this episode and made it the most popular to date. Now on the heels of Hugh Grant, Paris Hilton and Larry Craig comes …

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EM 29 - Naming Drugs: Superstars

2007-08-24 :: JK - Editor in Chief
Length: 8s

Download Episode 29 - Naming Drugs: Lifestyle Superstars You can’t fight human nature. Heroes who save us get our thanks, respect and veneration. But the true stars in our lives are more likely to be those who bring us pleasure and enhance our lifestyles. Theirs become the names we look for and remember. Drug makers haven’t overlooked [...]…

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EM 28 - Naming Drugs: New Words

2007-08-18 :: JK - Editor in Chief
Length: 8s

Download Episode 28 - Naming Drugs: New Words In each of these pairs of drug names one is actual, one is fictional. Can you tell which is which? Fans of Stephen King, MadTV and Star Trek will have an advantage. The choices: Norvasc & Novril; Qualex & Seroquel; Klonopin & Retinax; and Tretonin & Diazepam. In [...]…

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EM 27 - Naming Drugs: Superheroes

2007-08-09 :: JK - Editor in Chief
Length: 8s

Download Episode 27 - Naming Drugs: The Superheroes Recognize characters in the following short scene? Paxil faced Crestor saying, “Xanax of Lipitor seeks the Neurontin.” Hearing this, Zoloft rose from Levitra, dropped his Lyrica and crossed the Cialis to heave an Effexor into Zocor. The Celebrex cheered, “All hail Voltaren”. Names like these suggest superheroes and other larger [...]…

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EM 26 - Newest Campaign Tricks 2

2007-06-30 :: JK - Editor in Chief
Length: 11s

Download Episode 26 - Newest Campaign Tricks Part 2 Obama, McCain, Clinton, Giuliani - the leading deep-pocket candidates. Their hyperactive teams are working on new public statements daily. But do mesmerizing messages lie inside these? So far nothing these three senators and an ex-mayor have released matches the powerful prose of Abe Lincoln or ML King, Jr. [...]…

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ENGLISH MOJO - Words Move People

with Joseph JK

ENGLISH MOJO  -  Words Move People


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