December 21, 2006

Bad lingo

The 12/15/06 page of Gawker ("daily Manhattan media news and gossip") is a rant (entitled "Bad Lingo") on clichés in media outlets and elsewhere.  Some of these (like yo and oy) are just annoying overused expressions, but a few are clearly snowclones,  some familiar here (Best. X. Ever. and X-y Goodness), some not yet blogged on here.

The inventory ends with The New Y, "The unkillable grandaddy of them all, a Protean monster capable of adapting to any topic, discussion, situation, or writer."  Also the snowclone most discussed in e-mail to me.

(Thanks to Jim Lewis, Matthew Hutson, and Vishy Venugopalan, all of whom pointed me to the site.)

Among the new figures are Made My Y Bleed (where Y is a sensory organ, and the cause of the figurative bleeding is some undesirable experience) and X-gasm.

As for The New Y, since my last posting on it, the mail has been pouring in.  Some of it I appended to the earlier posting.  But here are some highlights from the weeks following,

Valerie Reed supplied a cascade of The New Y from the pop culture blog The Hater:

If you're Katie Couric, and who am I to say you're not, how would you get people to take you seriously as a newswoman after presiding over segments like "Dress For Your Body Type" and "Today Throws A Wedding" for years and years? Maybe you would tone down on the tanning. Or concentrate on honing your "serious" voice. But the most important thing you would do is find a historical precedent for showing pictures of a celebrity's baby on the news so people won't call your broadcast "infotainment." [YouTube segment from CBS news here]

See, uh, important babies have always been important! It's like Suri is the new Prince Charles (that full head of hair could almost be a crown). Which makes Katie Holmes the new Queen Elizabeth (sorry, Britain), and Tom Cruise the new Prince Phillip.

[picture of Vanity Fair cover here]

And I think this makes Vanity Fair the new paper of record.

Then, from Victor Steinbok, a sighting in PENNumbra, the Penn Law Review:

The same could be said, I think, about the latest Court-related mantra, "judicial independence." Indeed, when it comes to constitutional sloganeering, "judicial independence" might be the new "judicial activism."

And from Benita Bendon Campbell, "100 [years old] is the new 80" in the AARP Magazine.

Then one I found on my own:

One of the things that have changed in the last few years is the number of people saying that lots of things have changed in the last few years.  There are more of them, and what they have spotted are trends. Many trends.  In fact, Reinier Evans has taken to saying that "trends are the new trend." (Rob Walker, "Trend Wrap", NYT Magazine 12/10/06, p. 26)

Yes, trends are the new trend.  That's right up there with "black is the new black", reported on earlier.  Inspired by these, I thought to search for "old is the new new" and "new is the new old".  Only a small number of the latter, but a huge number of the former, communicating something like 'an old thing is now back in fashion'.  Here's a more emphatic version, from Dustin Staiger's Casual Fridays blog:

The Old Old is the New New

I've grown quite fond of my old-style hats. I have a fedora and a willis hat. When I wear these hats I get comments from people (and sometimes stares). Yet, these were the hats everyone used to wear. Now, it seems like a very new thing to do.

Of course trends come and go and come back again. That's nothing new. But it has made me think about how some of the recent trends in marketing are not new, but old. When business became modern, the old way became passé. In our postmodern world, old has become new...

As Gawker said, the thing looks unkillable.

zwicky at-sign csli period stanford period edu

Posted by Arnold Zwicky at December 21, 2006 02:08 PM