According to Newsweek, the word “mash-up” was coined in 2001 by DJ Freelance Hellraiser who used Christina Aguilera’s vocals from the song ‘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.
“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 cataloged and included in the English lexicon (1).
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 website 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, websites, and other recorded sources” (2).
Today’s Challenge: The Old Man and the Dictionary
What are some examples of words that fit the following categories: abstract noun, plural noun, common noun, possessive noun, adjective? Make a list of at least three words in each category. Then, use words from your list to complete the titles below. By doing this, you’ll slightly alter the title of a classic work by mashing it up your new words. Select one of your titles and image it is a novel you have written. Write the blurb for the novel, a brief description of the story’s plot that you would place on the back cover of the book to attract and interest readers in the story.
Lord of the Flies
Lord of the __________ (plural noun)
War and Peace
War and __________ (abstract noun)
The Strange Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
The __________ (adjective) Incident of the _________ (noun) in the Nighttime
Lord of the Rings
Lord of the ___________ (plural noun)
The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet ___________ (noun)
The Grapes of Wrath
The __________ (plural noun) of Wrath
A Farewell to Arms
A Farewell to ___________ (plural noun)
Snow Falling on Cedars
Snow Falling on __________ (plural noun)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Zen and the Art of _____________ (noun) Maintenance
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Call of the ___________ (adjective)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
One Flew Over the ____________ (possessive noun) ____________(noun)
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The __________ (adjective) Man and the __________ (noun)
(Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)
Quotation of the Day: Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them. -Nathaniel Hawthorne
2-Paul McFedries. Word Spy: The Word Lover’s Guide to Modern Culture. New York: Broadway Books, 2004.