When the British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton was searching, in 1999, for a term to describe a network of computers with their own means of gathering information and understanding the world, he didn't resort to a noun pileup like "Object Connectivity Matrix." He didn't coin a cute word like "Sensorius." Instead, he gave this dawning phenomenon a name that incorporates one of the oldest words in the English language. He called it the Internet of Things.
If you're looking for proof of the English language's remarkable flexibility, enter the word hack
into the New York Times
's search field. The newest results will include a mention of "hack politicians" and a reference to "the suspected hack of Sony Pictures by North Korea" in 2014.
Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice-presidential candidate, briefly made headlines last month when it was announced that she'd signed a production deal for a TV "reality" show set in a courtroom. "She'll preside over the courtroom of common sense," according to Larry Lyttle, the man behind the deal. If the show materializes, it won't be the first time a politician has claimed "common sense" as a preeminent virtue.
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.