Tag: television

polling station

WordWatch roundup: penny dreadful, psephology, cock-a-hoop, and bafflegab

Penny dreadful, noun: With the debut of the second season of the British-American television show Penny Dreadful on 3 May…

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sixties TV

16 words from the 1960s

As the television show Mad Men draws to a close, we thought it might be fun to reflect on the contributions to language made by the turbulent decade of the 1960s. The legacy of the 1960s on language is not surprising, given the huge shifts in culture, including the Civil Rights movement, the apex of […]

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space hallway

Are these quotes from Star Wars, Star Trek, or Battlestar Galactica?

How well do you know your ‘space operas’? See if you can match the quote to the right space opera franchise – all three are filled with a bounty of intergalactic wisdom and quotable dialogue. Let’s see if you can tell them apart!

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twin peaks

The value of Cooper’s ‘straight talk’ in Twin Peaks

When we talk about ‘television language’ — what’s special to a particular series — we usually focus on words or catchphrases or grammatical patterns highlighted, if not invented, on the show. We’re attracted to the verbal antics of The Simpsons, the yadda yadda yadda playfulness of Seinfeld, the zippy slang of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and […]

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cyber code

Where does the word cyber come from?

Does cyber sound dated to you? Like the phrases Information Superhighway and surfing the Web, something about the word calls one back to the early era of the Internet, not unlike when you ask a person for a URL and they start to read off, ‘H-t-t-p, colon, forward slash…’ But for every use of the […]

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chopsticks fork

Fresh Off the Boat and the language of the Asian-American experience

Fresh Off the Boat, the newest addition to the American TV channel ABC’s primetime lineup, has garnered more than its share of attention in the lead-up to its recent debut. Based on restaurateur Eddie Huang’s critically-acclaimed memoir, it’s the first sitcom in 20 years since Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl to feature an Asian-American family at […]

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donut_large

Embiggening English: The Simpsons and changing language

The first episode of The Simpsons aired twenty-five years ago, on 17 December, 1989, and since then, English has never been the same. Homer, Bart, Lisa, Marge, and their friends in Springfield, Wherever-it-is, have given us fancy words of pure invention, worthy of Lewis Carroll, like cromulent ‘legitimate, but not really’, and words built from […]

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Seinfeld jerk store

The Jerk Store called…and called and called

Seinfeld famously added a ton of terms to English, such as low talker, high talker, spongeworthy, and unshushables. It also made obscure terms into household words. Shrinkage and yadda yadda yadda existed before Seinfeld, but it’s doubtful you learned them anywhere else. Another successful Seinfeld term has gone under the radar: Jerk Store. The term was coined in “The Comeback,” when George is unselfconsciously stuffing his face with […]

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