New Words in a Genre: Greenwash, Regreen, Decarbonize

Topics: Environmentalism, Meaning of life, Environment Pages: 7 (2242 words) Published: October 20, 2010
‘New words in a genre.’ is chosen to be the topic for this mini research paper. All the analysis and evaluations done on the new words chosen in a specific area will be based on the use of various corpora, online concordancers, dictionaries and search engines. This research paper will investigate the selected new words in terms of its morphological structure, frequency of use, generated meanings and prediction on the acceptance in dictionaries with the analysis on the FUDGE factors.

Justification of new words in a specific area
‘Greenwash’, ‘regreen’ (same as‘re-green’) and ‘decarbonize’ (same as ‘decarbonise’) are the new words chosen for analysis in the area of environmental protection. Apart from sharing the same semantic field, these words share the same part of speech as verbs. Undergoing the morphology change and lexical change on words, these new words are formed to fill the gap between language and the new concepts developed in environmental protection.

Morphological Analysis on Greenwash
Greenwash is a blending word, a new lexeme formed from parts of two other words (Anglistik, 2008, pp.155), although it seems to be formed by the root ‘green’ and ‘wash’. Indeed, greenwash is the combination of ‘green’ and ‘whitewash’. It is connotation in meaning, as it doesn’t mean the colour of green and the action of washing. The meaning of ‘Green’ is broadened, since it only refers to the colour and a small area of plantation. It can now refers to the symbol of environmental protection, while ‘whitewash’ bears the meaning of covering and concealing of flaws.

The Meaning of Greenwash
Many have tried to explain the meaning on greenwash. According to Wordspy, greenwash means to implement token environmentally friendly initiatives as a way of hiding or deflecting criticism about existing environmentally destructive practices. Journalist of Peter Burrows has written that ‘Of course, Apple is not immune to the temptation to "greenwash" -- the tendency to overstate environmental accomplishments to win PR kudos.’ Another journalist from The Washington Times wrote ‘Adecco USA Workplace Insight surveyed 2,281 adults in the spring, and 68 percent of them said they think most companies greenwash their environmental actions.’ For more reference, examples are also quoted from Corpus of Contemporary America English (COCA), ‘corporations spend an inordinate amount of money to " greenwash " themselves’; ‘In none of these cases is this charity or an attempt to " greenwash " the company through some do-gooder window dressing’

Apart from using as a verb, ‘greenwash’ is used as a noun in some of the cases, referring to the practice of the company in disclosing the disinformation to the public. ‘The word for this is ‘greenwash’; The companies get the big PR boost of helping to fight global poverty while making a handsome profit.’ This is an example from Querying Internet Corpora, where all the examples of the usage of greenwash shown are in nouns instead of verbs. ‘expose today for its economy with the truth, broken promises, spin and greenwash.’ Regarding the semantic prosody, ‘Greenwash’ is a negative word no matter its usage as a noun or verb, supported by the previous negative words ‘spin’ meaning a state of mental confusion and ‘broken promises’; from the example ‘a spectacular encounter between auditors, visible green accounting failures and corporate greenwash’, the negative meaning is shown from the previous word ‘failures’.

Summarizing all the examples found from the internet, greenwash bears a negative meaning, it is about the ‘green’ action done by the corporations to conceal the damages they have done on the environment in order to achieve a better public image. Therefore, it is sometimes regarded as a deceptive used of green marketing.

The reason for the rise of this term is because of the absence of a word which can explain the practice of the deceptive green marketing by the corporations in...
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