Like Oreos, but braver

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From the notorious Global Language Monitor:

(Click on the image for a larger screenshot.)

Even spelled correctly, "heroes" isn't a name. The FDNY and NYPD responders who died in the World Trade Center buildings were heroes, sure enough, but it's not a very respectful tribute to stick a mis-spelled reference to them at the top of a list that's not even the right lexical category.

This isn't the first time that one of Paul JJ Payack's lexicographic PR stunts has been mishandled: see "Millionth word story botched" (6/10/2009) for an earlier example; or this list of posts for some background.

[For a somewhat more serious — and also funnier — WOTY article, see Mark Leibovich and Grant Barrett, "The Buzzwords of 2009", NYT 12/19/2009.]


  1. Sili said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 3:51 pm

    I can't decide whether that or "an hero" is worse. WARNING: That link is very questionable.

  2. Mr Fnortner said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

    They're some sort of breakfast cereal, I believe.

  3. Ray Girvan said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 6:22 pm

    Sili: That link is very questionable.

    And not merely for the text. It sent my computer into a paroxysm of Java and other application startups (from the surfeit of embedded graphical garbage typical of ED) that needed a system restart.

  4. Garrett Wollman said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 7:28 pm

    Payack was also in the news a couple of weeks ago for his "Word of the Year" press release.

  5. Ray Girvan said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 7:42 pm

    No connection, I suppose, to amor hereos, a kind of lovesickness or anhedonia suffered by heroes in the era of Courtly Love: see Two Noble Kinsmen and The Secret Wound.

  6. Benjamin Zimmer said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 8:03 pm

    The an hero meme was also described in the Aug. 3, 2008 New York Times Magazine article, "Malwebolence: The World of Web Trolling."

  7. Michael Moncur said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 10:21 pm

    So "Obama" is the #3 word but only the #7 name. "Global Warming" is the #1 word, even though there is a separate list of "top phrases" with the synonym "Climate Change" at the top. And "Heroes" (now spelled correctly) is a name.

    Do these people even read what they've written?

  8. Sili said,

    December 21, 2009 @ 9:33 am

    Sorry, Ray, but I did warn you.

    But it's good to see a more sober source for the meme.

  9. Mr Fnortner said,

    December 21, 2009 @ 10:54 am

    I have no financial or other interest in this suggestion: If you use Firefox you can install the NoScript add-on, and then browse dangerous sites like the one Sili referred us to with confidence that you won't be jacked by the things that Ray Girvan fell prey to.

  10. Nathan Myers said,

    December 22, 2009 @ 5:54 pm

    Adding to Mr Fnortner's remarks… The Chrome reports "warning, visiting this site might harm your computer". Most likely the site installs a virus on any insufficiently protected Windows machine that connects. I wouldn't doubt that Ray Girvan's machine is now (if it wasn't already) an active member of a "bot army", participating involuntarily in propagating deluges of spam. If so, he has lots of company. Sili's, too, like as not.

  11. Nick Lamb said,

    December 23, 2009 @ 6:11 pm

    I don't think ED is likely to set out to harm your computer (it is user edited like Wikipedia, but the users don't have the privileges needed to "install a virus"). I suppose the advertising networks it uses (which carry pornography and other material that's high dollar value but unwelcome on many sites) might inadvertently carry malware-infested advertising, but that also seems unlikely.

    However badgering the user is well within the usual parameters for such advertisers – if you might be interested in their wares they certainly don't want to leave it to chance for you to click on the advert, faster to take you to the site immediately, overlay videos, pop up suggestions to visit the site, etc. This is pesky, but not dangerous.

  12. Rappaccini said,

    December 24, 2009 @ 12:10 am

    True to form, GLM has the following on their top words of 2009. As an LHC fanboy, it jumped out at me:

    8. Hadron — Ephemeral particles subject to collision in the Large Hadron Collider

    I'm not sure many people would consider hadrons, such as protons and neutrons, "ephemeral". However, if they were, it would be rather difficult to collide high-intensity beams of them! (in fact, the LHC collides hadrons — protons specifically — in order to produce the quite ephemeral Higgs boson.)

    They make this mistake again in the phrases list:

    10. God Particle — The hadron, believed to hold the secrets of the Big Bang

    "Scientists discover the PROTON! Breaking news from 1919." GLM may benefit from reading more about the LHC than its title. (For the record, physicists cannot stand the phrase "god particle")

    Finally, I was surprised to learn that the LHC is in fact an "aton smasher" [sic]. And Trillion is a proper noun now! I'm so proud.

  13. Robert said,

    December 29, 2009 @ 8:30 pm

    Of course, in the GUTs like the Georgi-Glashow model protons and neutrons are ephemeral. More ephemeral than they actually are, of course.

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