Sunday, March 25, 2012

Take an economic upturn and call me in the morning

Ran across a term in Slate today that is new enough, or self-conscious enough, that they had it in quotation marks:
Emily Bazelon has been writing an ongoing "recessionitis" series on how the recession is affecting family, work, and life.
Other cites are not so cautious; it shows up about 10,000 times in search. Here are a few examples of it used in context in roughly this same sense:
  • Continued: Med-tech diagnosis: Recessionitis. Prognosis: Uncertain. [#] Minneapolis Star business section)
  • How to Vaccinate Against Recessionitis [#] (U.S. News & World Report careers section)
  • Creativity Doesn’t Suffer Recessionitis in Vegas [#]
There is also, which is a deal-finder type of site that includes articles on how to save money.

I wasn't surprised that recessionitis — which still feels more like a play on words rather than a serious attempt at neologoizing — is in no dictionary beyond

(Something I will not investigate at the moment, but which seems like a promising line of inquiry, is just how productive the suffix -itis is, specifically in fields like economics and sociology.)

While poking around for this, I found a couple of other terms based on recession. One was recessionist. One definition is that it refers to someone who looks to save money (which seems to semantically overlap, to me anyway, with penny-pincher):
  • The Recessionist's Gift Guide [#]
  • The Recessionist's Guide to Entertainment [#]
Or someone who is the victim, so to speak, of the recession:
  • The Recessionist is a blog that tells the stories of the recently graduated who, despite going to some of the best colleges in the country, are
    struggling to find employment. [#]
  • Brooklyn Recessionist's Page: A blog about the trials, tribulations, and idiosyncrasies of this Recession
  • Recessionist Writing & The Slow Road To Hell [#] (Cranky, tho funny, rant: "If I hear or read one more person say they started writing because they were laid off from their real job and suddenly had all this wonderful time to write, I am stabbing that person in the throat with a fork.")
The following usage intrigued me because it seems to be used adverbially as a qualifier rather than as a noun:
  • Attacks on Indians in Australia: racist or recessionist? [#]
Ok, another term I ran across was recessionista. This one actually does appear in a dictionary (Collins), with an attestation for the year 2001. Definition: "a person whose clothes, whether cheap, second-hand, or suitably subdued, are considered appropriate to an economic downturn. And indeed, this term has a quarter-million hits on the search engines and plenty of sites and cites that use the term with this meaning.

The meanings of recessionist and recessionista overlap slighty; for example, the Brooklyn Recessionist whose blog I listed earlier actually calls herself BrooklynRecessionista in the URL of her site.
Now I'll have to be on the lookout for more terms based on recession. It would be nice to think, of course, that we'll have less use for any such terms in the future.


Adrian said...

10,000? I can find 232 hits on Google. Where are the rest?

WordzGuy said...

Well, for "recessionitis" I get 12,000 raw hits on Bing and on Google, I get "7 personal results. 70,200 other results". Granted, the legitimacy/validity of these hits is suspect beyond the first few pages, but those are the numbers I was quoting, anyway.

Adrian said...

When you say you "get" 12000 hits, you mean that's the figure they quote. Problem is that that figure is almost always wildly inaccurate and you have to page through the results to find the actual quantity. But there's another catch: Google often doesn't seem to list more than around 500 hits, so in many cases it's impossible to state with any accuracy whatsoever what the hit count really is. (And this from a multi-billion dollar company whose core business is internet search!) Moral: take Google hit counts cum grano salis.

WordzGuy said...

I get your point, but I'm not really citing the numbers as part of a rigorous corpus stat. More like an order-of-magnitude look at how prevalent a term is -- oh, look, it's got 10/10,000/10,000,000 hits. I'm presuming, perhaps inaccurately, that whatever errors there are in Google's reporting for hits, the errors are at least proportional, such that they're wildly overestimated in roughly the same way for each term.

Anyway, it's just a blog entry, not a submission to the LSA or anything. :-)