Alejandro González Iñárritu's The Revenant leads all films with 12 nominations for the 88th Academy Awards, and it has already racked up several Golden Globes. The movie has put the unusual word revenant on the tip of a lot of tongues, with many of us asking, "What the heck does it mean?" Continue reading...
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 and telecast. Nearly 70 years after Mencken published his essay, television itself is undergoing a massive redefinition, and so is our TV lexicon. Continue reading...
Topics: Language Media Words
Writing in Sunday's Houston Chronicle, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Lisa Falkenberg shone a spotlight on the hundreds of Houston students who got hooked on Vocabulary.com, as one "campus-wide obsession" turned into a recipe for academic success. Continue reading...
The public radio show "On the Media" notes that "in the age of Snowden and Manning, the term 'whistleblower' is increasingly present in our media. But where exactly did the word come from?" Brooke Gladstone talked to our executive editor Ben Zimmer for some historical background. Continue reading...
Last night, Jon Stewart announced that he will be retiring from Comedy Central's The Daily Show. We'll miss Stewart and his writing team for lots of reasons. But as dedicated vocabularians, we'll be especially sorry to see the end of Stewart's skewering of overhyped news through clever use of word blending, known as portmanteaus. Continue reading...
East Coast residents (outside of New England) might have been a bit underwhelmed by the blizzard-that-wasn't known as "Winter Storm Juno." While this "junior" storm has fallen short of the hyped-up expectations, it's still interesting to consider how it achieved named status in the first place. Continue reading...
Topics: Media Naming Words
Is there any point in remaining "spoiler-free," steering clear of any crucial plot points of movies or television shows you haven't seen yet? That's the question raised by Netflix in its new "Living with Spoilers" campaign, and it set me off on a search for the roots of the "spoiler" in my latest column for the Wall Street Journal. Continue reading...
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