January 20, 2007 / 10:53 PM / in 12 years

"Macaca" named most politically incorrect word

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - “Macaca” you are number one. The word “macaca,” used by outgoing Republican Senator George Allen of Virginia to describe a Democratic activist of Indian descent who was trailing his campaign, was named the most politically incorrect word of the year on Friday by Global Language Monitor, a nonprofit group that studies word usage.

U.S. Senator George Allen (R-VA) speaks to supporters in Alexandria, Virginia, November 9, 2006 after he conceded defeat to Democrat James Webb. The word "macaca," used by Allen of Virginia to describe a Democratic activist of Indian descent who was trailing his campaign, was named the most politically incorrect word of the year on Friday by Global Language Monitor, a nonprofit group that studies word usage. REUTERS/Molly Riley

“The word might have changed the political balance of the U.S. Senate, since Allen’s utterance (an offensive slang term for Indians from the Sub-continent) surely impacted his election bid,” said the group’s head, Paul JJ Payack.

Allen narrowly lost to Democrat James Webb in November, helping make it possible for the Democrats to capture control of the Senate.

In second place on this year’s list was “Global Warming Denier,” for someone who believes that climate change has moved from scientific theory to dogma.

“There are now proposals that ‘global warming deniers’ be treated the same as ‘Holocaust deniers: professional ostracism, belittlement, ridicule and, even, jail,” Payack said.

In third was “Herstory” substituting for “History.” Payack said there are nearly 900,000 Google citations for “Herstory,” all based on a mistaken assumption that “history” is a sexist word.

“When Herodotus wrote the first history, the word meant simply an ‘inquiry,’” he said.

In August, Global Language Monitor picked “truthiness” and “Wikiality” — two words popularized by political satirist Stephen Colbert on his TV show “The Colbert Report”— as the top television buzzwords of the year.

The group defined “truthiness” as used by Colbert as meaning “truth unencumbered by the facts.” “Wikiality,” derived from the user-compiled Wikipedia information Web site, was defined as “reality as determined by majority vote.”

Last year, it dubbed “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job,” as U.S. President George W. Bush’s most memorable phrase of 2005.

Bush made the comment to Michael Brown, the former head of Federal Emergency Management Agency, before Brown resigned over the administration’s handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

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