Katrina lexicon

Go through the past couple of weeks worth of coverage of hurricane Katrina and you’ll see scores of themes recurring: from George Bush’s trinity of mistimed comments (the best of which involved Trent Lott and his porch) to the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s 2002 story that laid out the scenario for a devastating hurricane.

Semantically, there have also been things popping up repeatedly. One word in particular, “refugees,” has sparked editorials and news stories. And, then we have two of the most commonly used construction describing of the aftermath of the storm: residents evacuating with only “the clothes on their back”, and New Orleans’s “haves and have nots.”

On a Friday’s night perusal of the Internet, I found the following:

>>> go to Google News and search for Katrina and “clothes on * back” as your search terms. The result was 674 stories. The Katrina and haves have nots search string returned 118 stories.

>>> On Yahoo! News. Katrina and haves have nots returned 51 stories and 15 images at 9:07 PM, while Katrina and “clothes on their back” returned 226 stories at 9:08 PM.

>>> On blog aggregator Technorati, Katrina and haves have nots brings up 219 blog posts, while Katrina and “clothes on their back” returned 112 posts.

>>> News search tool Lexis-Nexis brings up 330 stories when searching for Katrina and “clothes on their back”. Searches for Katrina and haves have nots are confusing on Nexis.

If William Safire takes on these phrases in his language column on Sunday, I hope he’ll give me some props. If you like hurricane searches, look at this list of pairings.

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