Refugee Tops Desperation and Camp Cupcake as Top Television Buzzword of the Year

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Â?RefugeeÂ? Tops Â?DesperationÂ? and Â?Camp CupcakeÂ? as Top Television Buzzword of the Year; Year of Desperate Images Reflecting Harshness of Real Life Dominate TeleWORDS List

‘Refugee’ from the on-going coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina tops ‘Desperation’ from Desperate Housewives and ‘Camp Cupcake’ from the on-going Martha Stewart follies as the Top Television Buzzword (TeleWORD) for the 2004-’05 season, according to the Global Language Monitor (, the media tracking and analysis company. Close behind were ‘Reality TV’ from The Real World, etc., and ‘Curmudgeon’ from House. Rounding out the Top Ten were “It’s what we do” from Stargate SG-1, Flip Flop from the 2004 U.S. Presidential Elections, ‘Backstory’ from Lost, ‘Tsunami’ from the South Asian earthquake, and ‘mobisodes’ or one minute episodes for mobile devices.

‘Words no longer Hip’ include ‘You’re fired’ from The Apprentice and ‘Mess O Potamia’ from The Daily Show. ‘Words With Legs’ include “Yadda, yadda, yadda!’ from Seinfeld.

Worldwide, the Largest Global Phenomenon from a Single Word is “Idol/Idool/Idolo” with than two dozen American Idol-type shows spanning the globe from South Africa to India; the Top Word From Down Under is “Free to Air TV;” the Top TV Name in China is “Mickey Mouse;” and the Coolest ‘unCool’ Series is New Zealand’s “Fair Go“.

“This year’s list was dominated by reality far outstripping reality programming bringing a world of woes into the global living room," said Paul JJ Payack, president of The Global Language Monitor. “While ‘desperation’ from Desperate Housewives began the television year in good fun, as the season progressed the world witnessed an on-going war, a tsunami, the death of a beloved Pope, and finally unanswered death and despair on the American Gulf Coast. Finally, the meaning of the word ‘refugee’ has actually been altered by real-world horrors witnessed by hundreds of millions on live TV."

The TeleWORDS List reflects those words and phrases that came to prominence during the 2004-’05 television season or have had the greatest influence on the English Language. Words are nominated by a global panel of language experts and then analyzed by GLM’s proprietary algorithm, the Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI).

The Television Buzzword List (TeleWORDS) for the 2004-’05 Season is released in conjunction with the 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, to be televised live on CBS on Sunday, September 18th from the Leonard H. Goldstein Theatre in North Hollywood. The complete list, with commentary, follows.

The Top TeleWORDS of the 2004-05 Television Season

TeleWORDS / Show / Comment

1. Refugee

Show: Ongoing coverage of the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

Comment: For millions, the word has now taken on a racial undertone and was subsequently replaced by ‘evacuee’ and others.

Runners-up: Evacuee, displaced persons, Katrinees?

2. Desperation

Show: ‘Desperate Housewives’/The Tsunami/Hurricane Katrina

Comment: Desperate Housewives’ began the television year in good fun, but as the year progressed the world witnessed an on-going war, a tsunami, the death of a beloved Pope, and finally unanswered death and despair on the American Gulf Coast.

3. Camp Cupcake

Show: The On-going Martha Stewart follies        

Comment: The minimum security WV facility where Martha did her time.

Runner-Up: Ankle Bracelet

4. Reality TV

Show: ‘The Real World’, ‘The Bachelor’, ‘Survivor Classic’, ‘The Simple Life’, etc.

Comment: Real-world reality bested the manufactured kind by a long shot this television season.

5. Curmudgeon

Show: House

Comment: Acerbic, caustic, antisocial, & mean-spirited; those are socially redeeming qualities of this brilliant physician.

6. “It’s what we do.”    

Show: Stargate SG-1

Comment: Stargate becomes the longest running Sci-Fi Series in the history of the medium.

7. Flip Flop

Show: The 2004 U.S. Presidential Elections

Comment: Formerly referred to gymnastic routines, pancakes, and dolphin acts; now transcends politics moving into pop culture.

8. Backstory

Show: ‘Lost’

Comment: ‘Lost’ takes ‘the story behind the story’ concept to the next level.

9. Tsunami

Show: The News

Comment: Before “The Tsunami” took a quarter of a million South Asian lives, most of the viewing audience had only a vague acquaintance with the word.

10. Mobisodes (Not another season of the Sopranos, but one-minute TV episodes designed specifically for mobile media.)        

Show: Every 'hip' show worldwide.

Comment: Coming soon to a cell phone near you.

Words No Longer Hip

· Word: “You’re Fired”

Show: The Apprentice

Comment: Top of last year’s TeleWORDS List, plunges in a precipitous decline.

· Word: "Mess O Potamia"

Show: ‘The Daily Show’

Comment: Jon Stewart's quip cuts a bit too close to reality these days.

Words With Legs …

· Words: “Yadda, yadda, yadda!”

Show: Seinfeld

Comment: During the summer, its repeats were besting Prime Time Network Comedies.

Largest Global Phenomenon of a Single Word: “Idol/Idool/Idolo”

Comment: American Idol writ large. Now more than two dozen Idol-type shows from South Africa to India.

Top Word From Down Under: Free to Air TV

Comment: For the first time, 2005 saw the cable industry’s share of the TV market in the US, exceeded that of Network Television.

Top TV Name in China: Mickey Mouse

Comment: Opening of the new Hong Kong Theme Park during Golden Week impacts the airwaves.

Coolest ‘unCool’ Series: New Zealand’s Fair Go

Comment: The show defends consumers against injustice, even battling (and winning) for a one-cent discrepancy.

About the Global Language Monitor

California-based Global Language Monitor analyzes and catalogues the latest trends in word usage and word choices, and their impact on the various aspects of culture. A worldwide assemblage of linguists, professional wordsmiths and bibliophiles, supports the GLM to help monitor the latest trends in the evolution (and demise) of language, word usage and word choices. For more information, call 1.925.367.7557 or go to

Contact: Paul JJ Payack

(925) 367-7557 Phone


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