Today CBC had an article about how celebrity expressions make it into everyday language, like Cash Money Millionaires’ ‘bling’, Mary J. Blige’s ‘hateration’.  Obviously TV shows provide plenty of fodder for this too like Friends’ ‘How you doin’?’ and all the Seinfeldisms.  But what’s funny is this article is all about bashing popular culture, forgetting that all our expressions seem to come from other people.

In recent months we’ve heard a lot about ‘predatory lending practices’, ‘bailouts’ and ‘subprime lending’, three phrases that I guarantee didn’t cross the bankers’ tidy linguistic fences until the economy went to hell.  Now that there’s word that the recession might spread to Canada, we hear all about how we can afford to run a deficit this year because for many years we’ve been ‘paying down the debt’…and with Nortel cutting back, there’s talk of 90’s era ‘downsizing’.  And all of a sudden the people who used to preach about how housing was ‘a good investment’ and ‘forced savings’ are strangely mute.

Architects have discussed ‘materiality’, ‘conceptualizations of space’ and ‘radicalization of form’ for years, but lately the terms ‘road diet’, ‘granny flat’ and ‘snout house’ have crept into articles written by engineers and planners.

Speaking of planning, when’s the last time you had to ‘manage expectations’ at your job?  Municipal politicians are all about ‘curbing sprawl’, providing ‘dense, multi-use neighbourhoods’ with a variety of ‘non-motorized transportation alternatives’, while ‘lifestyle centers’ have popped up in exurbia.  When we’re doing ‘stakeholder engagement’, neighbourhood residents are well-versed on ‘NIMBY’ and ‘participatory planning’, since they’re interested in ‘protecting homeowner values’.  Last year I was at a public lecture on transportation and the speaker noted how his newsletter had ‘gone viral’.

It’s not like we’re glued to our TV sets and YouTube all day…some of these expressions still catch on from good old-fashioned conversation!

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