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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 09:03 AM ET, 10/29/2012

Hurricane Sandy: ‘Frankenstorm’ floods the English language


Avery Solan, 8, plays in a flooded street as high winds and heavy rain from Hurricane Sandy arrive in Norfolk, Virginia, October 28, 2012. Hurricane Sandy could be the biggest storm to hit the United States mainland when it comes ashore on Monday night, bringing strong winds and dangerous flooding to the East Coast from the mid-Atlantic states to New England, forecasters said on Sunday. REUTERS/Rich-Joseph Facun (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENVIRONMENT DISASTER) (RICH-JOSEPH FACUN - REUTERS)

CNN didn’t like the nickname, saying that it “trivializes” a dangerous weather system. It banned it from CNN broadcasts.

But there’s no stopping “Frankenstorm.” As this beast “barrels” up the coast and gets ready to “slam” the East Coast, “Frankenstorm” is also taking the English language by storm.

That’s according to Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst at the Austin-based Global Language Monitor, which evaluates word usage in global English.

By Payack’s reckoning, “Frankenstorm” has already qualified as an English language word, even before it makes landfall. The term, says Payack, has racked up “tens of thousands of references in the global media.” The coinage of National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Cisco, “Frankenstorm” riffs off the weather system’s near-Halloween arrival as well as its freakish makeup, the sum of a tropical weather system and a nor’easter.

Notes Payack in a release on the matter: “The word ‘Frankenstorm’ is a combination or ‘portmanteau’ word linking Mary Shelley’s character from her novel ‘Frankenstein (or the New Prometheus)’ with the word ‘Storm’ from the O.E. ‘storm’. One of the word storm’s many senses acquired in the Late Middle Ages . . . ‘to rage’ might be especially pertinent here.”

Before Payack declares a term like “Frankenstorm” ready for the linguistic big time, it has to rack up at least 25,000 citations in the global media, which includes the “top 250,000 print and electronic media (newspapers, TV, Radio, magazines), the 2,000,000 or so blogs, all social media that can be tracked (Twitter, etc.).” Moreover, it needs to extend to “all major population centers speaking English,” notes Payack.

By  |  09:03 AM ET, 10/29/2012

Tags:  hurricane sandy, hurricane sandy path, hurricane sandy forecast, hurricane sandy update, hurricane sandy frankenstorm, frankenstorm language, frankdenstorm english language, frankenstorm terminology

 
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