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Words that have a real impact

Words that have a real impact

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The word of the year is "culture.''

Really? That's it?

It is according to Merriam-Webster, the folks who publish the dictionary. These folks base their word of the year based on a set of criteria that includes the number of online searches and how much those searches rose from the previous year.

In second place was "nostalgia.''

I don't get it. I don't want to argue with the dictionary folks, but I can't think of any reason why culture would be searched for more in 2014 than in previous years. The same goes for nostalgia. It would seem that may have been the word of the year in the past, for example when "Happy Days'' was a hit show or some other years when folks fondly remembered a time that probably wasn't as great as they thought it was.

But that didn't really happen in 2014.

The folks at Merriam-Webster said culture is always a popular word at the beginning of the academic season, but that in 2014 it moved into "the conversation at large, appearing in headlines and analyses across a wide swath of topics.''

The primary defiditon of culture is "beliefs customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place or time.'' The other definitions include "a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc.'' and "a way of thinking, behaving or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business).''

In addition to nostalgia, other top works included "insidious'' and "feminisim.'' Those make a little more sense. The "Insidious'' movie franchise undoubtedly helped that word and feminism has been a hot topic since the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling.

This isn't the first year that pretty common words have topped the list. Last year's word of the year was "science.''

Maybe culture's rise to the top was fueled by the Illinois governor's race, where Pat Quinn tried to benefit by labeling his opponent Bruce Rauner as a rich guy out of touch with voters. That strategy didn't work, but culture was mentioned a few times.

The Merriam-Webster got me thinking about what might be the number one word in the Decatur area.

Using a purely unscientific method (my memory) I think there's a tie at the top between "intermodal'' and "inland port.''

The two, of course, are connected and contain good news for the community. Although an inland port sounds improbable, it accurately describes what is happening in Decatur as Archer Daniels Midland Co., and the community create what has become known as the Midwest Inland Port. The idea is a simple one, actually. Imagine a port that uses trains and trucks for transportation, instead of ships and you've got the idea.

Intermodal is the method of shipping that runs the port, basically meaning that goods are placed in a box that can be transported by train and/or truck. The area's confluence of railroad systems and highway systems make Decatur the perfect place for an inland port based on inter-modal shipping.

Those words have become common in our area within the last year. Many economic development experts see it as the biggest potential creator of jobs in the last several decades in the Decatur area.

If that's the case, inland port and intermodal will be the words of a the year, maybe the decade.

gsawyer@herald-review.com

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