Remember Rick Santorum? He’s the Presidential candidate in the United States whose name was redefined by gay rights campaigners because of homophobic remarks he had made in the past.
Well Rick’s not the only one now. Front-runner Mitt Romney is now finding himself in a similar situation, as Google searches for his name start to show the same pattern. The Spreading Romney website is not yet topping all searches for Mr Romney’s name, but its presence could prove something of an embarrassment.
It seems that in 1983, Mr Romney and his family embarked on a 12-hour journey to Canada with their dog strapped to the roof in a special travel box. After a few hours, the Romneys discovered that the poor dog had suffered an uncontrolled bowel movement. The would-be president got out of the car, hosed the dog down, and then left it on the roof for the remainder of the journey.
Hence the new definition of Romney – “to defecate in terror”.
The site was created by 28-year-old Jack Shepler from Indianapolis, who said he wanted to draw attention to the incident. It seems he is not after a new definition for the dictionary, and it seems unlikely that people who suffer extreme moments of terror allied to stomach cramps will be saying “I was so scared I Romneyed” any time soon.
But the power of associating a name with a single definition does seem to be a growing trend in the political game in the United States, and the more that people coin these definitions and associate the protagonists with distinct ideas, then the more those ideas might stick. There is already a search on for what Newt Gingrich’s name might mean at the Spreading Gingrich website.
Incidentally, the growth of the Spreading Romney website comes as German linguists announce the winner of their Anglicism of the Year award. They felt that the English word that has made the best contribution to the German language over the last 12 months is “Sh*tstorm”, defining it as “a public outcry, primarily on the Internet, in which arguments mix with threats and insults to reach a critical mass, forcing a reaction”.
All over the world, there is a degree of crap driving language change.