Where have all the numbers gone? (Or 1 + 99 = 53 + 47)

December 5, 2012 No Comments Chad Nilep Discourse, In the news , , ,

In 2011 the American Dialect Society listed ‘the 99%’ among its Words of the Year. In 2012 ‘47%’ became the new politically-charged number. These numbers are connected in a way that might not be obvious.

Mitt Romney was recorded declaring, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.” Because they pay no income tax, Romney suggested, 47% of Americans are dependent on government. This resembles a charge made in 2011 by conservative activists at the53.tumblr, which in turn was a response to the Occupy Wall Street-affiliated wearethe99percent.tumblr.

Occupying Language

H. Samy Alim writing in the NY Times about “What if We Occupied Language?” When I flew out from the San Francisco airport last October, we crossed above the ports that Occupy Oakland helped shut down, and arrived in Germany to be met by traffic caused by Occupy Berlin protestors. But the movement has not only transformed public space, it has transformed the public discourse as well. Occupy. It is now nearly impossible to hear the word and not think of the Occupy movement. Even as distinguished an expert as the lexicographer and columnist Ben Zimmer admitted as much this