Hard News by Russell Brown


Public Address Word of the Year: Credit Crunch

"Credit crunch" is the 2008 Word of the Year for readers of the award-winning local blog site Public Address -- but what does "rofflenui" mean?

Several hundred of the most active users of the Public Address System, the site's busy community section, come up with a list of 31 finalists in a two-week discussion, then ranked their top three words or phrases in an online vote.

In a 2008 Top 10 dominated by world news, "credit crunch" came tops, followed by "change" -- and then "rofflenui", a word adopted by Public Address users as their own.

Like the 2007 Word of the Year, "Te Qaeda", "rofflenui" is a portmanteau word -- in this case, a combination of Maori and geek.

"It derives from 'ROFL' -- a venerable internet acronym for 'roll on floor laughing'," says Public Address founder Russell Brown. "So you add the 'nui' and you're literally laughing big-time.

"Strictly speaking, it should be 'roflnui', but the discussion came down firmly on the side of the greater phonetic clarity of "rofflenui"."

Brown says authorship of "rofflenui" rests with reader Sacha Dylan, who wins a case of wine from Vavasour for his trouble. "I'm sure it will be a popular result. One of Sacha's fellow readers, a well-known author, ranked 'rofflenui' first, second and third."

The 2008 Top 10 also reflected the big impact of the US Presidential election on blog readers. While local political catchphrases such as "slippery" and "Labour lite" made the finalists' list, they finished out of the money. The closest contender was "No", which, like Winston Peters, who fatefully brandished it, was just a few votes short of glory.

"The global financial crisis clearly had a big impact on the list -- but if you add up the ranking points for the Obama words, it comes to more than the 'economic crisis' words," says Brown. "Which might be cause for hope. Although 'hope' rather notably failed to make the Top 10 itself."

The full list, with ranking points, is as follows:

1. Credit crunch (203)
2. Change (179)
3. Rofflenui (138)
4. Obamarama (123)
5. Bailout (103)
6. Yes We Can (96)
7. Obamania (93)
8. Hockey mom (84)
9. Maverick (73)
10=Meltdown (72)
10=Crisis (72)

11. No (67)

Contact: Russell Brown

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