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tashirosgt
2010-Dec-23, 04:13 PM
I can remember a time when expressions such as "between a rock and a hard place", "find closure", "the situation on the ground" were not common. Today, I'd say these expressions are hackneyed, but there must have been a time when they began to be popular.

Likewise, it was once popular to say "he's sore" to mean that someone was angry. The expression "she's unconscious" was common among junior high kids, meaning something like "she's wierd" or "she's uninhibited".

Have scholars produced any tabulations of the rise and fall of such expressions? It would be interesting to know if one particular person's use of an expression like "between a rock and a hard place" started the fad. (Yes, it refers to something in mythology, but it wasn't an everyday expression for sportscasters 50 years ago.)

Strange
2010-Dec-23, 04:46 PM
The Phrasefinder site is good for this (I'm sure there are others). For example: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/62900.html

There is this, as a new resource: http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2010/12/our-adventures-in-culturomics.html

Buttercup
2010-Dec-23, 05:30 PM
...and then there's the issue of regional popularity. Around 12 years ago my sister was suddenly uttering stuff like "I don't make beaucoup bucks working at this place" and "shoot the bed!" (when angry). She resides 1,100 miles away (near our hometown). Guess I'd have been using those phrases too, back then, if I weren't living here. :rolleyes:

Haven't heard her use either (weird imo) phrase in a long time. Must be out of fashion now.

Mick West
2010-Dec-23, 05:51 PM
Google news archive is also useful, and has a different time sensitivity to the Google books n-gram viewer:

http://news.google.com/archivesearch?as_user_ldate=1950&as_user_hdate=2010&q=%22find+closure%22&scoring=a&q=%22find+closure%22&lnav=od&btnG=Go

NEOWatcher
2010-Dec-23, 06:12 PM
Holy helekula 8/29/2010 to 10/6/2010

Gillianren
2010-Dec-23, 06:32 PM
"Between a rock and a hard place" is said on a lot of those sites to be a reference to Scylla and Charybdis, but documentation only takes it to 1921 and is about mining. Either way, its existence goes back before any of us here! I prefer "between the Devil and the deep blue sea" anyway.

kleindoofy
2010-Dec-23, 10:36 PM
... Today, I'd say these expressions are hackneyed, but there must have been a time when they began to be popular. ...
Ok turkey, get trucking. Talk to the hand, dude.

Let's get down and be groovy, let's paint the town red. Funky l33t jive? Gag me with a spoon! Dig it.

Have a few cooly brews and you're baked, bro.

Etc., etc.

Epic language fail. ;)

Cougar
2010-Dec-23, 11:14 PM
get trucking....

Or Keep on truckin' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keep_on_Truckin%27_%28comics%29).

That would be Zap Comix. 1968.

kleindoofy
2010-Dec-23, 11:25 PM
... Keep on Truckin ...
Right on, daddy-o!

Ara Pacis
2010-Dec-26, 04:06 AM
I've never heard of "she's unconscious", but I know that "she's wierd" is mistyped.

I've always wondered where "your mom in a bottle" came from and where it went, although I'm glad it's gone.

vonmazur
2010-Dec-26, 07:24 AM
I think a lot of the expressions in American English came from the Military....like "Doofus" from German, and "Boondocks" from Tagalog....I do not know where "Grody" came from, but we used it in the US Army long before the "Vallley Girls" started using it to mean "Grungy"....IIRC "Goniff" (Ganov) is from German, via Yiddish in the US...Having a lot of Eastern European Jews in Hollywood has given us a lot of Yiddish expressions in US English, along with all the Napoli-Sicilian Slang that we use all the time, thanks to the Godfather and other shows...I like it!! It gives one a chance to study other languages and leads to many interesting discoveries in etmyology....(Not to mention all the Old French, Latin, and Greek we use along with all the Arabic terms every day...Azimuth, Algebra, Zenith, Nadir etc, usw....)

Dale

vonmazur
2010-Dec-26, 07:28 AM
Right on, daddy-o!

Somewhat dated expression, (Daddy-O) used during the Jazz and Big Band Era by Musicians, kind of hung around until the Beatles came along...."Right On!" came later...

Paul Beardsley
2010-Dec-26, 10:12 AM
I can remember a time when expressions such as "between a rock and a hard place", "find closure", "the situation on the ground" were not common. Today, I'd say these expressions are hackneyed, but there must have been a time when they began to be popular.

I'd suggest that "find closure" is not hackneyed. It exactly describes the feeling one has at a funeral, for instance - and by contrast, "failure to find closure" exactly describes the feeling when a loved one is missing presumed dead, but not known for sure to be dead.

I've heard the expression "conspicuous by its absence" described as a cliche, but again, it's an exact and meaningful descriptionof a familiar experience.

Generally, expressions are hackneyed only if they fail to communicate the idea or feeling (or whatever) that they are intended to convey. Or they are supposed to be funny or startling or dramatic, but overuse has meant they are not. Or they suggest an authority which is bogus - "the situation on the ground" being one such, as it carried military connotations, and should only be used when the connotations are relevant. Misuse of the term "epicentre" is similar, and anyone who uses the word to mean anything other than "the point on the surface above the origin" should be tased.

tashirosgt
2010-Dec-26, 04:04 PM
I'd suggest that "find closure" is not hackneyed. It exactly describes the feeling one has at a funeral, for instance - and by contrast, "failure to find closure" exactly describes the feeling when a loved one is missing presumed dead, but not known for sure to be dead.



Would you agree that the expression "find closure" was not commonly used , say, 30 years ago to describe how anxious people react when they find out the details of how a missing loved one died? As I recall the history of the use of this word, it became popular for TV reporters to use it. Gradually, people who were anxious about situations began to use it to describe their own feelings. I think not only the word became popular, but the idea itself became popular! The idea is that knowing the details of some situation (e.g. where is little Timmy buried, who killed him?) will put one's mind at rest. I don't think such details would put my mind at rest and I don't think it was as "popular" to believe this 30 years ago as it is today.

Perikles
2010-Dec-26, 04:34 PM
and anyone who uses the word to mean anything other than "the point on the surface above the origin" should be tased.I agree completely. However I did notice the other day a photograph of a ruined building in Hiroshima which was described as "the epicentre of the atomic bomb" and I can't decide whether that might be allowed. Or can I invent the word catocentre instead?

Perikles
2010-Dec-26, 04:40 PM
By the way, can anybody comment on something I find really weird and quite new - the habit of saying "I am liking X" instead of "I like X" ? Is it new? Is it weird? Is it colloquial? Is it being stupid?

kleindoofy
2010-Dec-26, 06:06 PM
... "Right On!" came late r...
Yes, as in posts above I was purposely mixing dated or personally unfavored expressions.

So, thanks for the memories, on the bottom line.

Gillianren
2010-Dec-26, 08:42 PM
Would you agree that the expression "find closure" was not commonly used , say, 30 years ago to describe how anxious people react when they find out the details of how a missing loved one died? As I recall the history of the use of this word, it became popular for TV reporters to use it. Gradually, people who were anxious about situations began to use it to describe their own feelings. I think not only the word became popular, but the idea itself became popular! The idea is that knowing the details of some situation (e.g. where is little Timmy buried, who killed him?) will put one's mind at rest. I don't think such details would put my mind at rest and I don't think it was as "popular" to believe this 30 years ago as it is today.

Why do you think they did DNA testing on the remains of the Vietnam Unknown Soldier? He isn't anymore, you see. He was Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, and he was killed in 1972. His family got his remains back, and there is no longer an unknown soldier symbolic of the Unknowns of Vietnam at Arlington National Cemetery. In 1988, Ted Bundy thought he'd get a deal of life without the possibility of parole if he only agreed to identify who his victims were and where he left them. He didn't, because Florida wasn't going along with it (they knew who he'd killed in Florida), but just a few years ago, Ridgway got his deal. (Funny, if you consider Ted also wanted a deal in exchange for helping to capture Ridgway.) The families were willing to go along with it, because they'd rather know than always wonder.

Okay, all of those examples are within the last thirty years. You know what isn't? Rilla of Ingleside. It's the last book in the Anne of Green Gables series, written some time in the 1920s. Jem, Anne's oldest boy, is missing in action and presumed killed Somewhere in France. Various characters flatly state that the death of Walter, Anne's second son, was easier to take, because they knew. Did they have to know the name of the soldier who shot Walter to find their closure? No, because it was a war, not a murder. But they needed to know that he'd been shot in order to grieve him properly. With Jem, there was just uncertainty. Examples exist in great numbers, if you actually look instead of making blind assertions. I think it's good that we're finally acknowledging its existence.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Dec-26, 09:39 PM
At tashirosgt: What Gillian said. I also recall, 20 years ago (not 30 years ago but well before the "find closure" expression was commonly used in the UK) a former colleague of mine was killed when the fishing boat he was on was hit by a large vessel and sunk. I wrote to my former colleague's mother to express my regret and to say how much I'd enjoyed her son's company when I'd worked with him. She wrote back to thank me, and went on to express her anguish over the fact that her son's body was not recovered.

She didn't use the word "closure" because she didn't have it. But clearly she had the need for it, even if she didn't know what it was going to be called.

And for goodness sake, why the heck do we have funerals? And why do people feel bad if they're unable to attend a funeral for someone who was important to them?

At Perikles: Certain verbs can have stative and dynamic (or action) forms. For example, "to have". If it is mid-morning and there are sandwiches in Susan's bag, we can say, "Susan has her lunch." (Stative.) If it is lunchtime we can say, "Susan is having her lunch." (Dynamic.)

With the verb "to like" there is arguably no need for a dynamic form. I can say that I generally like curry. If someone has just made me a curry and I am eating it, I can say that I like it; there is no need to say, "I'm liking it!" because it doesn't add any immediacy to it. (I could, however, say, "I am enjoying it.")

The McDonalds slogan, "I'm loving it," is a little bit annoying when I'm trying to teach grammar to early-stage adults who want to learn English.

tashirosgt
2010-Dec-27, 03:42 AM
Examples exist in great numbers, if you actually look instead of making blind assertions. I think it's good that we're finally acknowledging its existence.

My assertions are no more blind than anyone else's in this thread. I agree the people have always wondered about the fate of loved ones when it was unknown. I didn't say they didn't wonder. However, I don't think their minds necessarily become settled to the degree that is implied by the word "closure" when they find out. I think "closure" is a convenient word to use in news stories because readers prefer to hear that unsatisfactory situations can be settled.

Gillianren
2010-Dec-27, 04:47 AM
Your blind assertion was that the need for it was a new phenomenon.

tashirosgt
2010-Dec-27, 05:45 AM
Your blind assertion was that the need for it was a new phenomenon.

Assuming "it" means "closure", I made no such assertion. People need "closure", but they don't necessarily get it by discovering facts. I do assert that it is a recent fad to use the word "closure" to describe the mental state of someone who has felt anguish over the unknown fate of a loved one and finally found out about it. And I do assert that describing such stories in terms of "closure" is a stereotype that portrays the person who became informed as being pacified in some manner.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Dec-27, 06:13 AM
They are pacified in some manner. They start dealing with the fact that their loved one is dead rather than hang onto hope that they are almost certain is false hope.

And in post 14 you did assert that it was a new phenomenon, at least for a large number of people.

Jens
2010-Dec-27, 06:35 AM
The McDonalds slogan, "I'm loving it," is a little bit annoying when I'm trying to teach grammar to early-stage adults who want to learn English.

I've also been asked that by students, and like you, I agree it's unnecessary. But still, you have to agree that "I'm loving it" has a ring to it that "I love it" doesn't. It sounds dynamic, which is surely the intent of the ad. I think the proper thing to say is that if you are a poet or copywriter, you are free to take liberties with language.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Dec-27, 06:47 AM
I've also been asked that by students, and like you, I agree it's unnecessary. But still, you have to agree that "I'm loving it" has a ring to it that "I love it" doesn't. It sounds dynamic, which is surely the intent of the ad. I think the proper thing to say is that if you are a poet or copywriter, you are free to take liberties with language.

When they are at higher levels, you can do this. I've also explained that some people, including poets and advertisers, like to twist and bend language, sometimes to make it stand out.

Just before Christmas, I showed some upper-intermediate students the words to Good King Wenceslas, and they quite enjoyed taking lines such as "brightly shone the moon that night" and deciding how they would be expressed in natural, non-poetic language: "The moon shone brightly that night." I also showed them how the one-syllable word "fuel" was sung as a three-syllable word

Which isn't relevant to anything, I'm just rambling!

tashirosgt
2010-Dec-27, 07:05 AM
They are pacified in some manner. They start dealing with the fact that their loved one is dead rather than hang onto hope that they are almost certain is false hope.

And in post 14 you did assert that it was a new phenomenon, at least for a large number of people.

I assert that the assumption that people in such situations are usually pacified, as you describe and assume, is a new phenomenon. If little Timmy was missing for 10 years and his tiny skeleton is finally found at the bottom of an abandoned mineshaft, I think the older approach to this story was that his parents become even more upset and they aren't pacified until they use dynamite to fill the shaft or sue the mine owner or see the fiend who threw him down it fried in the electric chair.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Dec-27, 07:26 AM
I assert that the assumption that people in such situations are usually pacified, as you describe and assume, is a new phenomenon. If little Timmy was missing for 10 years and his tiny skeleton is finally found at the bottom of an abandoned mineshaft, I think the older approach to this story was that his parents become even more upset and they aren't pacified until they use dynamite to fill the shaft or sue the mine owner or see the fiend who threw him down it fried in the electric chair.

First of all, I am not the one who assumes things. I am basing my stance on personal experience and experience reported by others.

Secondly, you seem to be missing the idea that the human mind has more than one facet. The fact that the "wondering whatever happened to Timmy" facet has been pacified does not mean the person is not in an enraged state.

Thirdly, nobody is suggesting that seeing a dead body is the only means of finding closure, or that nothing else is ever necessary. If someone died through misadventure, say, through wandering across the moors on a winter night, then finding the body is likely to be sufficient. If somebody has been murdered, closure is unlikely to be found until the murderer is brought to justice.

It seems to be that you simply object to the word because it is new, and you are assuming assumptions and twisting meaning in order to discredit it. For my part, I am often very suspicious of new words, but in this case I welcome it because it exactly describes a long-recognised aspect of the human condition that didn't have a name before.

tashirosgt
2010-Dec-27, 07:56 AM
It seems to be that you simply object to the word because it is new, and you are assuming assumptions and twisting meaning in order to discredit it. For my part, I am often very suspicious of new words, but in this case I welcome it because it exactly describes a long-recognised aspect of the human condition that didn't have a name before.

"Closure" (to me) has the connotation of closing some issue, of finality, of completeness. Sorry if that is "twisting its meaning in order to discredit it". The way I see it, finding out the facts about how someone met their end is often a provocation to seek some remedy, not a closing of matters.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Dec-27, 08:02 AM
The way I see it, finding out the facts about how someone met their end is often a provocation to seek some remedy, not a closing of matters.

In which case the term "closure" is not used until the remedy is found!

tashirosgt
2010-Dec-27, 04:26 PM
In which case the term "closure" is not used until the remedy is found!

That would be the proper use of the word "closure", but today's news media would announce "The discovery of the remains of little Timmy Lumpergarden at the bottom of an abandoned mine shaft finally gives closure to the family of the little boy who disappeared from their front yard 10 years ago."

Paul Beardsley
2010-Dec-27, 05:39 PM
Okay, so can we agree that the misuse of the word is annoying, but that is not the fault of the perfectly servicable word itself?

Gillianren
2010-Dec-27, 08:02 PM
I assert that the assumption that people in such situations are usually pacified, as you describe and assume, is a new phenomenon. If little Timmy was missing for 10 years and his tiny skeleton is finally found at the bottom of an abandoned mineshaft, I think the older approach to this story was that his parents become even more upset and they aren't pacified until they use dynamite to fill the shaft or sue the mine owner or see the fiend who threw him down it fried in the electric chair.

Yes, and my documentary evidence shows you're wrong. In the case of a murder victim, yes, finding the murderer is important to closure, but in general, I can find you all the cases you'd like that just knowing what happened to the missing child was important and healed the bereft parents. Abandoned wells happened. Heck, I have a book wherein a grown woman falls down a well, and her husband spent the whole time assuming she'd run off, abandoning him and their infant daughter. When he found out she'd fallen down a well instead, his attitude toward the world--and the child--changed entirely, because he knew.

tashirosgt
2010-Dec-27, 08:44 PM
I can find you all the cases you'd like that just knowing what happened to the missing child was important and healed the bereft parents.

My assertion concerns how such stories are presented by reporters, not the true facts of the situation. For the actual cases there some statistical answer. I don't claim to know whether 30%, 70% or 98% of people who are in anguish over a mysterious disappearance or death are pacified merely by finding out what happened. I am saying that that modern reporters habitually use the word "closure" to describe what happens when such knowledge is attained. So the modern stereotype for such a situation is that the people who learn the facts are pacified instead of provoked.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Dec-27, 08:52 PM
So when did the expression "shifting the goalposts" come into vogue?

Ara Pacis
2010-Dec-28, 05:48 AM
Just before Christmas, I showed some upper-intermediate students the words to Good King Wenceslas, and they quite enjoyed taking lines such as "brightly shone the moon that night" and deciding how they would be expressed in natural, non-poetic language: "The moon shone brightly that night." I also showed them how the one-syllable word "fuel" was sung as a three-syllable word

3 syllables? I can understand 2, even 1, but 3? Here in the US it is sung with 2 syllables, but across 3 notes. If you count each note, then I can sing alleluiah with 12 syllables.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Dec-28, 09:28 AM
3 syllables? I can understand 2, even 1, but 3? Here in the US it is sung with 2 syllables, but across 3 notes. If you count each note, then I can sing alleluiah with 12 syllables.

"fu-u-el"