The Occupy movement's rallying cry, "We are the 99 percent," has been selected by Yale University as 2011's best quote, beating out memorable phrases from the likes of Herman Cain and Steve Jobs. A deserving nod? Or an easy headline grabber? Here, a brief guide to the process:
How does Yale select the best quote?
The quotes don't have to be "the most eloquent or admirable," says John Christofferson at the Associated Press. University librarian Fred Shapiro — who has been assembling the annual "Yale Book of Quotations" since 2006 — specifies that the phrases should be "famous" and "revealing of the spirit of the times." Occupy Wall Street's Twitter-friendly slogan, which "speaks to economic disparity and perceived corporate greed," emerged as the year's most representative four words in Shapiro's opinion.
What quotes have been selected in previous years?
Last year's big winner was Tea Party favorite Christine O'Donnell's "I'm not a witch," a phrase from a notorious campaign ad. The conservative movement, in general, was well represented on 2010's list, reflecting the Tea Party's rise to prominence.
So who else was on the list this year?
Reflecting a more liberal slant for 2011, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren came in second place with her scathing remarks criticizing the rich. The rest of the top 10 (see the full list here) is dominated by several gaffes from current and former Republican presidential candidates, including Jon Huntsman's unlikely endorsement of evolution and global warming, Ricky Perry's "Oops" from a November debate (after he failed to name the three federal agencies he hoped to eliminate), and Herman Cain's "Who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan?" — a lowlight from an interview Cain gave shortly before he suspended his campaign. Also making the cut: A memorable utterance from Charlie Sheen's meltdown and Steve Jobs' famous last words ("Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.").
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The U.S. is about to sell weapons to Vietnam. That's bad news for China.
- What the Middle Ages can tell us about the GOP's big charity myth
- Why is the Pentagon stuffing caves in Norway full of tanks?
- The most sensible GOP alternative to ObamaCare comes from a Senate candidate who is almost sure to lose
- 10 things you need to know today: October 23, 2014
- When Khomeini said no to Iranian nukes
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
Subscribe to the Week