In last month’s Writing Magazine, Michael Legat wrote a short paragraph talking about two phrases that are in common use: “north of” and “grow”. He noted how their use has changed and you now hear them in sentences such as “He earns north of one hundred thousand” or in terms of “growing your investment”.
He posed a question to ask if we really need “north of” or “grow” in these contexts when there are already perfectly functional words such as “more than” and “increase”?
For me, it isn’t about a need for these words more than it is about enlivening language. Using “north of” and “grow” gives a much more exciting and visual image to what you’re trying to convey. Especially when you’re talking about something as dull as salaries and investments!
So I’m not sure I really see this as a language change, but more of a language growth or evolution where people are improving their conversations with more visual and colourful terminology. Perhaps this points to people being more aware of their language’s capabilities and I definitely can’t see that as a bad thing!
I’m thinking it all has to do with a person’s idiosyncrasies as well…I wouldn’t say “north of” anything…but I know people who would.
Seriously, North of has been around forever. Remember a little show called North of 60? I’ve heard it plenty. I’m with you, I think words wouldn’t exist if weren’t for exploring new ways of using them. 🙂
Nope never heard of that! I’ve googled and it doesn’t look like it ever aired over here. I’m wondering if it was a phrase that came into use in America and Canada first and has migrated over here over the past decade-ish though 🙂
It’s called “romancing the product”. A team of creative people come up with these catch-phrases to make the product more emotionally appealing to the consumer.
Oh yeah I know from a marketing point of view there are always bonuses to creative use of language. But the article I mentioned was focussing more on every day people using the terms in conversation, I probably didn’t make that very clear sorry!
To be honest I think its language changes and nuances and whilst not all of them will translate from say one side of the English Speaking world to the other, quite a few will.
Look at the way we use Star. It symbolises a whole new branch of people as well as things in the night sky. Yet famous would suffice etc. Language changes and develops, its a fact of life, it only doesn’t when its dead. So play on I say.
The evolution of language is a massively complex area; people do entire theses on the evolution of just a few phrases.
One theory that made sense was based on our tendency to talk in jargon terms as one ‘badge’ associated with our ‘group’, be it teens, lawyers, doctors etc. Each group generates its own code, reinforcing its identity and streamlining its communication. These words and phrases often then filter through into the rest of society, where their new meanings are adapted to fit mainstream use, e.g. people in their 60’s are now using LOL…
I have probably just bored you. I will stop now.
I have three teenagers and believe me, I hear and learn new words every day. Some, I’ll admit, I never thought I’d use and yet, they come tumbling out of my mouth! LOL!
Like the times, language changes. I agree with you about it not being a bad thing.
For the most part these things don’t bother me, except for when the new ‘catch phrase’ actually has a negative or demeaning thought associated to it. Like ‘Mompreneur’ it’s a cutsy name for woman who stay home with kids and try to make money and a business on the side but at the same time it lacks any seriousness to it and demeans their business to a little cutsy thing she’s just doing for fun! But that’s another topic, great post, language is always fun to discuss and ponder, if it wasn’t then I wouldn’t be a writer!!!
Thank god the language changes! Imagine if we were still talking Olde English. Hmmm, maybe that wouldn’t be too bad, I don’t know. I’ve always wanted to use the word “wassal” in a sentence.
Wait. I just did!