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October 30, 2011

"Occupy" As Word Of The Year?

Words emerge and change meaning all the time. A word might have a neutral meaning or even...

...might not even exist until historical or cultural events create, change or sharpen a words meaning.

"Winning" (thanks to Charlie Sheen) was on its way to becoming the word of the year for 2011, but it looks like the word "Occupy" just might eclipse it; even though it barely existed as a commonly recognized word (at least with a specific meaning) even two months ago.

Common words can take on specific (and usually powerful) connotations very quickly when political winds shift. (I wrote about this a while ago on this blog (http://www.esl-lesson-plan.com/mt.cgi?__mode=view&_type=entry&id=421&blog_id=1).

As with almost every word in the English vocabulary, this one invites parody - check out this Occupy Sesame Street spoof here - where we see digitally altered pictures of Elmo, Grover and the gang being hauled off by New York City police along with the claim that "99% of the world's cookies are consumed by 1% of the monsters."

Or how about "Occupy the Bar", with the slogan "What do we want? An ice cold Guinness! When do we want it? Now!".

The word "occupy" has already become relatively mainstream as a word of empowerment. Look at how the New York Times has used it in an educational setting - http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/20/opinion/occupy-the-classroom.html?_r=1.

Whatever you may believe about the "Occupy" movement (you can see their statement of beliefs here - http://www.nycga.net/resources/declaration/ be certain, at the very least, to follow how this word develops, adapts and is, or isn't absorbed into the English language.

Send us any links or other resources that you think any teachers, students or even just regular people might find interesting or useful.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing , constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


About the author of this entry:

Morf has a B.A.from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, USA and an MAT (Master's in Teaching English) from the University of Washington (Seattle, WA, USA). And, as much as Morf loves writing this blog, he is always open to other opportunities either blogging or teaching. You can contact him at mmorf@mail.com.

Posted by mmorf at October 30, 2011 09:10 PM


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