Pages

Friday, March 24, 2006

March 24: Mash-up Day

Today WLA honors a word that you will not find in the dictionary – yet! According to Newsweek, the word "mash-up" was coined in 2001 by DJ Freelance Hellraiser who used Christian Aguilera’s vocals from ‘Genie in a Bottle’ and "recorded [them] over the instrumentals from ‘Hard to Explain.’" Mash-up is not just a musical term, however. A mash-up applies to any combination of two or more forms of media: music, film, television, computer program, etc.

So what does March 24 have to do with this strange new term? Well, on this date in 1973, Pink Floyd released its groundbreaking Dark Side of the Moon album. Later -- no one really knows when – someone came up with the crazy idea of combining, or ‘mashing,’ the Pink Floyd album with the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. The fans of this mash-up claim over a 100 different moments where Pink Floyd’s music and lyrics oddly coincide with events and actions in the film. For example, when Mrs. Gulch first appears riding her bicycle, the bells and chimes at the beginning of the song "Time" begin to sound. To learn more, do a Google search of "Dark Side of the Rainbow."

"Mash-up" is just one example of a neologism, a new word that is created to describe some kind of phenomenon, concept, or invention. Some of these words have the lifespan of a common housefly, but others, if they are used enough, eventually are catalogued and included in the English lexicon. Wordsmiths at the Oxford English Dictionary, for example, have the "rule of five" to guide their decision about whether or not to publish a neologism in the dictionary. According to the rule, the word must be published in at least five different sources over a five-year period. As a result, lexicographers are always reading, searching for potential new additions to the dictionary.

If you want to be ahead of the curve on new words, check out the web site Wordspy.com. The site is maintained by Paul McFedries, a technical writer with an obvious love of language. Here is the description of his site in his own words:

Wordspy "is devoted to lexpionage, the sleuthing of new words and phrases. These aren't 'stunt words' or 'sniglets,' but new terms that have appeared multiple times in newspapers, magazines, books, Web sites, and other recorded sources."

Challenge: Mother Tongue Lashing

Here is a lexical mash-up I call Mother Tongue Lashing. It takes advantage of the wealth of compound words and expressions in English. For each pair of words below, name a word that can follow the first word and precede the second one to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase.

Example: Jelly __________ Bag. Answer: Bean - Jelly Bean, Bean Bag

1. Life __________ Travel
2. Punk __________ Candy
3. Green _________ Tack
4. Rest __________ Work
5. Light __________ Book
6. Rock __________ Dust
7. Spelling __________ Sting
8. Night __________ House

Create your own Mother Tongue Lashings. Use a dictionary to make sure that you have two-word expressions or compound words, not just two-word combinations.

Quote of the Day: A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him --Sidney Greenberg

1 comment:

Tall Frizz (bigfoot) said...

HUTTAH! Ahh...the power of blogging. Glad you have succumbed to the awesome might of online journals. NPR just had a fantastic story on blogging that I have on my lappy. I should burn it for you.

Anways, welcome to the alternative to Myspace!