Friday, February 13, 2009

The Economic Crisis Adds Some Great New Words to Our Lexicon

One of the good things to come out of the economic crisis is some great new words for our lexicon. I am always amazed at the beauty of the English language. In the next few posts, we'll have fun with new terms.

The first is actually an expression: "Once in a hundred year Tsunami." I have been seeing this phrase used more and more over the last six months by journalists. What makes it interesting, I believe, is the phrase is actually replacing another expression, "the perfect storm." After the movie, "The Perfect Storm," came out some years ago, the phrase caught on big as a term for multiple elements coming together just right to create a terrible result. The problem is, the phrase was used so much that a form of word inflation resulted. Pretty soon, if your car got a flat tire it was a perfect storm, because now you would be late for work, and if you're late for work than you lose your job, if you lose your job your wife divorces you, etc. So once tripping over a cat became a "perfect storm," the phase had lost much of its punch.

The media had to find an upgraded expression to get the point across that this current economic crisis really, really, was a rare, momentous event. Thus, "Once in a hundred year Tsunami," was born (in my opinion). The term actually protects itself from inflation, just as the gold standard protects a currency. A once in a hundred year Tsunami by definition can only happen once every hundred years. So how can you use the word for every problem? "Honey, I just burned the toast. That is a once in a hundred year Tsunami." Nope.

One final point for my fellow logophiles. When you pronounce the word "Tsunami," you are supposed to pronounce the initial T. If you can manage to do that, then please drop me a line, I could use some help.