Obamneycare, Romneycare, Obamacare and other monsters

Weeks ago, Republican presidential contender Tim Pawlenty tried to make fun of Mitt Romney’s health care plan in Massachusetts by calling it Obamneycare because it resembles the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), popularly known as Obamacare by opponents of the wide-reaching law.

We can offer a smile at these political creations while shaking our heads. A politician’s resumé should certainly include the gift of gab, proven skills at public speaking and the ability to persuade with words, but political creatures hardly benefit from their attempts at creating words. That task is best left to writers with a knack for neologisms and a flair for injecting powerful meaning into a small word package.

What surprises me is that these so-called creations have so many syllables in a language where monosyllabic or disyllabic words pack the biggest punch. Besides, the word care is phonologically a weak one, in my opinion. Even though c is a plosive consonant, its power is soon diluted by the -are sound which, perhaps following its airy inspiration, disappears from the tongue in a puff.

Creating new words or neologisms is a highly skilled task that shows, when successfully practiced, a great deal of intelligence and a vast knowledge of language. It is not enough to have a head full of words, we need to know how these words relate to each other. Words are not just clusters of letters, they are living entities. As such, they are born, they grow, reproduce and –in most cases– die.

I recently came across a combo found in a tweet on LinkedIn: media omnivore. The meat of the message was that Latinas are media omnivores in the sense that they consume any kind of media. By media, we will assume online content such as webpages, tweets, microblogs, blogs and the like. That’s another word –media– that needs some serious rehashing and specificity because the message is being lost in it.

I commented on my friend’s quoting of this tweet by clarifying that the phrase media omnivore is an oxymoron, since omnivore points to a human being or an animal that eats everything. Dogs and pigs are omnivores, cows and squirrels are not. In any case, I pointed out, it should be mediavore.

By the way, you can find a rich sample of some media for mediavores at The Mediavore – Consuming The Best Public Media.

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2 Comments

Filed under Neologism, Terminology, Word formation

2 responses to “Obamneycare, Romneycare, Obamacare and other monsters

  1. g2lls

    This was an interesting article…..what stuck out to me was the comment that “Latinas consume any kind of media.” Is this more so than other ethnic groups? I do agree that the word media is too generic and does not give the reader enough information. I also like the “media omnivore” oxymoron, I am going to have to start using that phrase! I love watching language evolve, it is interesting when one person comes up with a word or phrase and it quickly becomes a well-known term or part of pop culture almost overnight.

    Thanks as always for a great article!

    Grace Bosworth
    President, Global2Local Language Solutions
    http://www.globaltolocallanguagesolutions.com

  2. I cannot answer to the claim that Latinas consume any kind of media. It sounds like a factoid, but that generalization can be applied to almost any other ethnic group. As for oxymorons, the point is not to use them as if they are appropriate phrases, as I explained in my posting.

    Oxymorons like that are trite phrases that form the detritus of the evolution of language. People practice with new ways of saying things, but few words stand the test of time.

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