Obama's call for change impacts language, TV

LOS ANGELES Wed Sep 24, 2008 12:50pm EDT

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - He is calling for change, but U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama probably didn't think his campaign's theme extended to the English language and U.S. television culture.

"ObamaSpeak" -- encompassed by words such as "obamamentum," "obamabot," "obamacize," "obamarama" and "obamanation" -- has been the second-most-used catchphrase on U.S. television this past year, topped only by No. 1 word "Beijing" referencing the recent Olympics, according to a study from the Global Language Monitor released on Tuesday.

The Beijing Olympics in August also ushered in Phelpsian -- the No. 5 "teleword" -- coined to describe American swimmer Michael Phelps' feat of winning eight gold medals in a single Olympics, the Global Language Monitor said.

Phelps helped boost TV audiences for the Olympics to record figures, including the 31 million people who tuned in on Aug 16 to watch him clinch his 8th gold medal at the Beijing Games.

"This year, two events dominated television -- the Beijing Olympics and the U.S. presidential elections, " said Paul Payack, president of the Texas-based Global Language Monitor which tracks the latest trends in word usage.

The survey measures words used starting in fall 2007 and running to late spring 2008, and is released just as the major broadcast networks are launching their 2008/2009 schedule.

Other popular words and phrases among the top telewords of 2008 were the cliche used frequently by sportsmen and women, "It is what it is" at No. 3; "third screen" at No. 6, as in watching TV on a mobile phone; and No. 7 "vincible" applied to the upset of the seemingly invincible New England Patriots by the New York Giants in the 2008 Superbowl.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Cynthia Osterman)

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