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Post 9/11 Neologies August 17, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Miscellaneous, Politics, Writing.
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In the five years since 9/11 we have been bombarded with images, words and hints of “terror” and war. Look no further than this week’s intensly overreported airline threat, or “Terror in the Sky” as CNN and MSNBC were calling it, and the Israel-Lebanon conflcit raging in the Middle East right now.

Post-9/11, a phrase impossible to wish away as a buzzword, the world truly is a different place, there really is a Post-9/11 World, for better or for worse. Historic events the enormity of 9/11 can change the course of civilization, the world balance of power and the future of humanity. But other, more subtle changes take place as well.

To see some of these changes we need search only through our native tongue. English. An elegant language of description and specifics. A word for everything. Language, ever fluid, has evolved in the Post 9/11 world.

Neologisms. Not even. New uses for old words. New definitions. New significance.

The List (in no particular order)

9/11: The date itself is part of the venacular now. The words nine and eleven put together as the date will hold a very specific and solemn meaning in American English for a long time. Plotters, planners and terrorists still at large.

Terror Alert Level: The color coded system meant to warn the citizens of the risk of terror attacks. At least its colorful and the DHS finally used red, what about blue and green though?

Shoe Bomber: Umm, yeah, Richard Reid.

Homeland: Homefront maybe? What are they trying to evoke here? The use of homeland was an interesting choice, I thought. As soon as I hear it I think of bacon, and farms on hills, really green, peaceful places. The kind not pockmarked by 500 pound bombs. This is but part of an attempt to cast this conflict in terms of the epic struggle of WWII.

Ground Zero: Once the location of a nuclear detonation. Now, sacred ground in Manhattan.

Torture: no longer something the United States of America has to avoid when conducting itself abroad.

WMD: Weapons of Mass Destruction, acronymn use common thanks to the Iraq War.

Islamist, Islamo-Facist, Islamic Facist: First it was Islamist. I don’t think that conjured images of WWII, at least not in the numbers the administration wanted. So on to Facism.

Axis of Evil: Japan, Germany and . . . errr . . . North Korea, Iraq and Iran. (Psst . . . don’t tell them about Pakistan and Saudi Arabia).

Cut and Run: Republicans say this is a Democratic plan for Iraq. Meanwhile, staying the course.

Anthrax: Not just a band anymore. Perpetrators, plotters and planners still at large.

Random Bag Searches: Even pre-9/11 random bag searches were known for their proliferation at airports nationwide. Maybe you still think airport. New Yorkers might say subway.

IED: More acronymns. Improvised Explosive Device. Once known as a bomb.

Emergency Supplemental Spending: Not for emergencies, usually. Non-budgetary cash, normally heaved overseas.

Abu Ghraib: Infamous and as recognizable as My Lai. This will prove to be a very historically significant event(s).

Sleeper Cell: Everywhere? Nowhere? Asleep?

Dirty Bomb: A nasty little bomb. A radiation bomb, non-nuclear.

Death Squads Yet another hint of WWII is in the air. This time, roaming the streets of Iraq like SS Stormtroopers.

emboldened: something that all negative acts does for terrorists.

GITMO: Once just military jargon for the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, now a phrase indelliably attached to the notorious prison at the site.

undisclosed location: Dick Cheney’s shooting gallery. A place to hide.

Words help shape our world into definable categories and images. Language, I have always thought, is a great indicator of the direction of society, culture, geopolitical relations or the issues of the moment. Words have the power to sway entire nations into policies, wars and friendships.

Do you have any good Post-9/11 neologies that I didn’t include here? Add them, I’d love to hear them, so would everyone else.

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Comments»

1. Suhasini Gururaja - August 17, 2006

Freedom fries! :)

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3. MamaDuck - August 18, 2006

Golly, just things that are part of our vocabulary now that we don’t even realize weren’t there before. Amazing how much has changed. Our list is up if you’d like to look… have a great day!

4. yinn - August 18, 2006

Indeed, words influence our thoughts as well as vice-versa.

I don’t think I heard “sectarian violence” much before the past couple years.

5. dr. gonzo - August 18, 2006

I can’t believe I didn’t think of freedom fries.

Mmm . . . sectarian violence.

I prefer factional. Stupid media buzzwords. Heh.

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