Al-Ahram Weekly Online   31 December 2009 - 6 January 2010
Issue No. 979
New Decade's special edition
 
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Words, words, words


The decade was replete with buzzwords, many of them neologisms, especially arising from technological advances. As the world careened into what will henceforth be known as the Internet era, we had such neologisms as:

- Wikipedia (2001), wiki being Hawaian for quick, the world's first collective encyclopaedia, produced online by millions of users, now in dozens of languages, though increasingly regulated, especially when dealing with living persons.

- Photoshopping (2006), referring to the now common practice of touching up electronic images or making collages to suit one's needs.

- Twitter (2006), mobile software allowing anyone anywhere to link instantaneously with anyone anywhere (as long as they are "wired" in).

- H1N1 (2009), the creepy name given to a deadly virus originating in swine, the latest pandemic threat caused by factory farming, better known as swine flu, younger brother to bird flu, and closely related to AIDS, SARS and other possible pandemics threatening our global village.

Oh, and don't forget the great spoof of the decade, Y2K, the gimmicky shortform popularised by the fear that the now-computer addicted world would "crash" when the clock struck 2000.

These neologisms are entering all world languages, including Arabic, as the world gravitates towards an English-language based new world order. They are not such innocent playthings, however. In the world of politics, they represent a powerful means for their owners to promote an agenda other than greater freedom of communications. Moldova's communists were displaced in a twitter revolution, and Iran's Ahmadinejad almost was, as crowds of Western-savvy young people converged on their respective capitals, intent on overthrowing their governments after disputed elections. China especially is attempting to prevent these innovations in the blogosphere from being used to erode government authority.

The fact that must be confronted is that most of the Internet is in Jewish hands (Google, Yahoo, Facebook), and, given the organisation and power of the Israeli Lobby in the US and Europe, the ability to monitor, tap and store infinite quantities of personal data as well as control access to certain information suddenly brings us face-to-face with the spectre of Orwellian mind-and-body control. The highly lucrative world of Google and others is a boon whose owners are Zionists. Google co-founder and billionaire Sergei Brin recently donated a cool million to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which just happens to fund Jews from the diaspora to settle in Israel. Blog and youtube sites considered harmful have "disappeared" without explanation. Anti-Zionist/Jewish critique has been blocked as "hate promotion", and anti-Muslim/ Arab critique condoned as "freedom of speech".

Many existing words took on new significance as buzzwords during the noughties (the years 2000-09) including:

- Al-Qaeda, jihad and caliphate (2001), all Arabic, reflect the great irony of the decade -- just as every action results in a reaction, US/ NATO invasions of the Arab/Muslim world following 9/11 have led to a much greater awareness of Arab/Muslim culture, even a realisation that many of the accouterments of Western life -- from silk pajamas to date squares and hookahs -- come from their rival in the clash of civilisations.

- Not to be left out, the Jewish world became more and more the object of outspoken support and, at the same time, of critical attention throughout the decade, with the Holocaust, Zionism, Jerusalem and Gaza never leaving headlines for long.

- Obama and Obamania (2008) have reached every nook and cranny in the world with the first black US president in office, as he continues to wrestle with the problems of the US empire, another buzzword which came and then went, as the US faces decline on all fronts -- political, economic, environmental and health.

- Refugees (2005) are on the increase, not only due to US invasions and civil wars around the world, but in the US itself, reflecting the destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, due to government incompetence and crumbling infrastructure, even as the US military budget goes through the stratosphere.

- Derivatives and subprime lending (2007) refer to particularly odious financial schemes dreamed up and regulated by those who made billions from them, providing no real benefit to anyone but themselves.

- Two Bushisms that strike terror in the listener are surge (2007), and Shock and Awe (2003), the ghoulish name given to the invasion strategy in Iraq in search of nonexistent WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction). Bush's Hollywood- inspired " Bring 'em on!" challenge to the Iraqi insurgents was taken up vigorously with 4,500 US soldiers returning in body bags to date. One of his more memorable malapropisms was misunderestimate (2002), and forever associated with his reign is hanging chad (2000), referring to faulty election ballots in Florida which contributed to what was almost certainly a rigged victory of Bush over Al Gore. Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and rendition -- all legacies of Bush -- speak to the shameful fact that the empire promotes and even revels in torture.

- Chinglish (2005), albeit a neologism, is no doubt what we will all speak in another few decades if China maintains its present meteoric rise.

- Global warming consequences, such as increasingly violent and frequent hurricanes and tsunamis (2004), have literally flooded the world of economics, where financial tsunamis threaten the world economy, now that it is connected electronically and mostly free from government control.

- We now are satisfied with truthiness (2005), popularised on US political satire programme "The Colbert Report", reflecting the lack of honesty in our public life and the power of media distortions of reality.

just as every action results in a reaction, US/ NATO invasions of the Arab/Muslim world following 9/11 have led to a much greater awareness of Arab/Muslim culture, even a realisation that many of the accouterments of Western life -- from silk pajamas to date squares and hookahs -- come from their rival in the clash of civilisations.

- Not to be left out, the Jewish world became more and more the object of outspoken support and, at the same time, of critical attention throughout the decade, with the Holocaust, Zionism, Jerusalem and Gaza never leaving headlines for long.

- Obama and Obamania (2008) have reached every nook and cranny in the world with the first black US president in office, as he continues to wrestle with the problems of the US empire, another buzzword which came and then went, as the US faces decline on all fronts -- political, economic, environmental and health.

- Refugees (2005) are on the increase, not only due to US invasions and civil wars around the world, but in the US itself, reflecting the destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, due to government incompetence and crumbling infrastructure, even as the US military budget goes through the stratosphere.

- Derivatives and subprime lending (2007) refer to particularly odious financial schemes dreamed up and regulated by those who made billions from them, providing no real benefit to anyone but themselves.

- Two Bushisms that strike terror in the listener are surge (2007), and Shock and Awe (2003), the ghoulish name given to the invasion strategy in Iraq in search of nonexistent WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction). Bush's Hollywood- inspired " Bring 'em on!" challenge to the Iraqi insurgents was taken up vigorously with 4,500 US soldiers returning in body bags to date. One of his more memorable malapropisms was misunderestimate (2002), and forever associated with his reign is hanging chad (2000), referring to faulty election ballots in Florida which contributed to what was almost certainly a rigged victory of Bush over Al Gore. Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and rendition -- all legacies of Bush -- speak to the shameful fact that the empire promotes and even revels in torture.

- Chinglish (2005), albeit a neologism, is no doubt what we will all speak in another few decades if China maintains its present meteoric rise.

- Global warming consequences, such as increasingly violent and frequent hurricanes and tsunamis (2004), have literally flooded the world of economics, where financial tsunamis threaten the world economy, now that it is connected electronically and mostly free from government control.

- We now are satisfied with truthiness (2005), popularised on US political satire programme "The Colbert Report", reflecting the lack of honesty in our public life and the power of media distortions of reality.

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