In the American West, wildfires have become both more frequent and more destructive. With this ominous shift has come a new vocabulary for describing fire and its outcome – and new attention to some of the oldest words in our language.
Over the last 35 or so years, journey
has become one of our culture's dominant metaphors, a handy stand-in for experience
, and series of events.
If you've been keeping your head down, just doing your job and paying the bills, it may have escaped your notice that we live in exciting times. Yes, really! We're excited about
things! We're excited by
things! We're excited to do
things! And, increasingly, we're excited for
things, events, and experiences.
Coined names, dictionary-word names, an acronym, a surname: the year now ending was full of variety for anyone interested in branding trends. Here, in alphabetical order, are my top ten brand names for 2015.
In 1948, the American journalist and language chronicler H.L. Mencken wrote an essay for The New Yorker
, "Video Verbiage," in which he analyzed the lingo of the fledgling medium of television. Several of the words he gathered are now obsolete: vaudeo
("televised vaudeville"), televiewers
(now just "viewers"), blizzard head
(an actress so blonde that the lighting has to be toned down). Others are with us still, including telegenic
Nearly 70 years after Mencken published his essay, television itself is undergoing a massive redefinition, and so is our TV lexicon.
Maybe it's the newly chilly air, or the dwindling daylight, or the thrilling prospect of costumes and candy. Whatever the reason, each autumn brings a harvest of seasonal neologisms, word blends, and commercial coinages as colorful as the falling leaves.
"Verbing weirds language." Ad copywriters have made the weirding of language – and especially the verbing of nouns – a signal feature of the current brandscape. They're only the most visible of the language-weirders who are making the culture more expressive... or more vexing, depending on your point of view.