At least one growth industry has emerged from the current downturn/recession/whatever: the manufacturing of new words (and recycling of old ones) to describe it. Just within the last week I've discovered a raft¹ of word lists for recessionistas:
1. Grant Barrett shares "a few recessionary, depressionary, econolyptic terms" on his blog, The Lexicographer's Rules. New to me: diworsification ("diversifying one's investments too much"), financial incest ("telling one's children about family financial affairs in such a way or to such a degree that they learn too much and become overly concerned") and HENRY ("High Earner but Not Rich Yet"). For updates, check out Grant's indispensable Double-Tongued Dictionary; new lingo delivered fresh daily.
2. At Visual Thesaurus, Ben Zimmer has compiled "A Brief Glossary of Recession-Speak," which includes some terms I've discussed in previous posts (bankster, zombie bank, clawback) and some you'll find handy for general conversation. (I especially like furcation, which sounds like sending the pets to the kennel, but isn't.) By the way, Ben's "Word Routes" columns are free content, unlike my own fancy-shmancy behind-a-paywall articles.
3. "What to Call This Econo-Geddon?" asks energetic and witty wordsmith Mark Peters. Is it a Bush depression or an Obama depression? Or just an economic pickle? (You can also find Mark Peters at Wordlustitude, a compendium of ephemeral or nonce words; at Babbel, where he writes Jabberwocky, the urban parenting dictionary; and, yes, at Visual Thesaurus, where he specializes in euphemisms. And he recently published an excellent and funny book.)
4. The New York Times news blog, The Lede, zeroes in on financial metaphors: an economic Pearl Harbor, falling off a cliff, financial weapons of mass destruction. (Hat tip: Cathy Curtis.)
5. Elsewhere in the online NYT, there's a fascinating interactive word train that captures readers' current mood about the economy, color coded for "employed," "unemployed," and (somewhat mystifyingly) "neither." Retired? "Just looking"? (Hat tip: Anne Szustek.)
6. What do you call "cost-saving recipes for cooking in a recession economy, most likely prepared by a recessionista"? Why, recessipes, of course. (Hat tip: NextMoon.) For actual meal suggestions, check out the Recessipes! blog.
7. You can thank the U.S. government for the FinancialStability.gov Decoder, "frequently used terms and acronyms" in discussions of finance and the economy. Besides TARP and TIP and CAP and CPP, the list includes the moderately alarming SSFI, or Systemically Significant Failing Institution Program, "established to provide stability and prevent disruptions to financial markets from the failure of institutions that are critical to the functioning of the nation’s financial system."
8. Finally, a monograph: Slate Moneybox columnist Daniel Gross on the Orwellian quality of legacy loans: "Word sleuths advise me that legacy derives from an ancient Indo-Aryan root meaning, 'It wasn't my fault, and I should still get a bonus this year even though we lost billions of dollars.'"
Want more? Use the "Economy" tag in the Categories column at right to read my previous posts.
¹ Raft, collective noun: more than a passel, fewer than a boatload.