By Barry Ronge, The Times (Jo-burg, ZA). July 24, 2011 —
“The Global Language Monitor”, run by Paul JJ Payack, tracks the rise and fall of trend-words and phrases. Most of these fade rapidly when the fad that created them loses it’s social currency.
Have you recently heard anyone talking about Generation X? Probably not, because that social group has morphed into the social network, where they can “google” things, find friends on Facebook or start “poking” people on the internet.
These buzz words define the mood and style of the time, just as fashion houses and leisure industries do. Buzz words such as “disco mania”, “big hair”, “glitzy” and “high rollers” defined the excessive 1980s, just as “dropping out” and “peaceniks” are nostalgic souvenirs of the hippies and their flower-power revolution.
Mr Payack’s researchers collect these words and it goes without saying that the movies feature prominently. When a great title or a line of dialogue finds a life of its own, it becomes a pop-culture icon for the era.
For example, it has been 40 years since Clint Eastwood said: “Make my day!” and 39 years since Marlon Brando said: “Make him an offer he can’t refuse” – but both phrases are still current.
Payack’s team also came up with the term “wardrobe malfunction” when Janet Jackson gained unexpected exposure at the 2004 Super Bowl. The phrase was revived when Lady Gaga flashed a nipple in Sydney, Australia. It’s amazing how her elaborate costume seemed to vanish when a little pink nipple popped out and made a far bigger statement than the dress itself.
Now Payack’s team reveal their “8th Annual Global Survey of HollyWords of 2010”, a list of the current words and phrases that resonated through the movie scene.
The most frequently-used “HollyWord” of last year is “grit”, obviously related to the success of the re-make of True Grit. The film picked up a raft of nominations but ended up with just one award. Nonetheless, Payack’s team found “grit” cropping up in many reviews and features.
Webster’s Dictionary defines “grit” as “pluck, courage, perseverance and an indomitable spirit”.
The words “grit” and “gritty” featured prominently in hundreds of reviews and interviews about True Grit, in which Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld displayed enormous toughness and tenacity. They brought “grit” back into currency.
“Grit” also migrated into reviews and discussions of The Fighter, a boxing drama based in a working-class area that was constantly described as “gritty”, as was James Franco’s harrowing mountaineering ordeal in 127 Hours. The Oscar-winner The King’s Speech looked beyond the pomp and circumstance and found remarkable “grit” in a king of England. Even Toy Story 3, a tale of abandoned toys trying to avoid being turned into garbage, were praised for their “grit”, courage and loyalty. [Read More.]