There's a Word for It: The Explosion of the American Language Since 1900

By Sol Steinmetz

Be aware geeks (1984), have a good time! Crack open those covers and immerse your self in a mind-expanding (1963) compendium of the hot phrases (or new meanings of phrases) that experience sprung from American lifestyles to ignite the main very important, artistic, fruitful, and A-OK (1961) lexicographical significant Bang (1950) because the first no-brow (1922) Neanderthal grunted meaningfully.

From the flip of the 20 th century to this present day, our language has grown from round 90,000 new phrases to a couple 500,000—at least, that’s today’s most sensible guesstimate (1936). What bills for this quantum jump (1924)? In There’s a note for It, language specialist Sol Steinmetz takes us on a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (1949) joyride (1908) via our nation’s cultural heritage, as visible during the neato (1951) phrases and phrases we’ve invented to explain all of it. From the quaintly genteel days of the 1900s (when we first heard phrases equivalent to nickelodeon, escalator, and, think it or no longer, Ms.) throughout the Roaring Twenties (the time of flappers, jalopies, and bootleg booze) to the postwar ’50s (the years of rock ’n’ roll, beatniks, and blast-offs) and into the hot millennium (with its blogs, Google, and Obamamania), this dinner party for be aware enthusiasts is a boffo (1934) occasion of linguistic esoterica (1929).

In chapters equipped by means of decade, every one with a full of life and informative narrative of the existence and language of the time, in addition to year-by-year lists of phrases that have been making their first visual appeal, There’s a observe for It reveals how the yank tradition contributed to the evolution and enlargement of the English language and vice versa. essentially, it’s must-reading (1940). and never to disparage any of the umpteen (1918) different language books at the shelf—though they've got their percentage of hokum (1917) and gobbledygook (1944)—but this one really is the bee’s knees and the cat’s pajamas (1920s).

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Martin Prince: Spare me your euphemisms! It’s fats camp, for Daddy’s overweight little mystery! the main infamous euphemism of the Nineties used to be ethnic detoxification, first recorded in 1991 to explain the persecution, expulsion, or killing of contributors of assorted ethnic nationalities throughout the Bosnian battle (1992–95) and different Balkan wars focused on the breakup of Yugoslavia. The time period used to be in particular egregious since it hooked up basically optimistic phrases (ethnic “belonging to a humans sharing a standard tradition, faith, language” and detoxing “freeing from defilement, purifying”) to explain an motion forthcoming genocide. The phrases politically right and political correctness grew to become arguable throughout the decade. either phrases, abbreviated computing device, have been utilized by conservatives and language purists as pejorative labels for overly liberal attitudes towards language. hence the belief of changing the venerable note forefather with ancestor that allows you to stay away from the masculine father, or utilizing bodily challenged instead of handicapped, have been condemned as developing deceptive euphemisms and as “politically right” manipulations of the mummy tongue. at the liberal facet, to be notebook intended to right centuries-old prejudices opposed to girls (sexism), nonwhites (racism), the elderly (ageism), the disabled (ableism), and so forth. Political correctness was once broadly satirized within the media, as via making up lists of “politically right” replacements for plenty of universal phrases, for instance: midget = vertically challenged fats = horizontally challenged physique smell = nondiscretionary perfume cheating = ethically disoriented lifeless = living-impaired homeless = residentially versatile In flip, politically mistaken grew to become a favorable description, as within the speak convey Politically wrong, hosted via the comic invoice Maher, that ran from 1993 to to 1996 at the tv channel Comedy principal. Politically right or now not, President invoice Clinton’s choice to incorporate a provision for the v-chip (also spelled V-chip) within the Telecommunications Act he signed in 1996 was once welcomed through such a lot grownup americans. V-chips allowed mom and dad to regulate and block content material they didn’t wish their young children to observe. The v in v-chip stood for viewer however it used to be quite often suggestion to face for violence, which were expanding on tv. on account that all television courses are rated the way in which videos are (G, PG, MA, and so on. ), every one ranking will be encoded with a v-chip, thereby permitting mom and dad to dam particular courses or channels they deemed mistaken for younger audience. Others appeared the v-chip as simply one other fad in a decade bursting with fads. one of the hottest used to be the Grunge lifestyle linked to the determine of Kurt Cobain, lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of the alternative-rock band Nirvana, who died of a drug overdose in 1994. “When did grunge turn into grunge? ” used to be the hole line in “Grunge: successful Story,” a brand new York occasions article of November 15, 1992. “How did a five-letter notice which means dust, dirt, trash turn into synonymous with a musical style, a manner assertion, a pop phenomenon?

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