Monday, May 18, 2009

Catch Words

Zelda Benjamin
Every generation comes up with new terms. Some stick around for decades, while others become quickly dated. Should writers use catch words?

Sierra's blog referred to a not so nice catch phrase - bodice ripper. No doubt the phrase refers to submissive heroines of the past.

Our heroines have changed, but do the ideas or feeling associated with modern catch words always evoke a pleasant image? Some are nicer than others. An attractive woman has been called a foxy lady or hot. A strong woman might be said to wear the pants. A not so nice female ... Oh well, I can't mention those words in an Avalon blog.

What about catch words for men? Metrosexual is the first one I can think of.  The phrase refers to a man who uses products and pays close attention to men's fashion. Then there's the sensitive new age guy, a contrast to the alpha male.
Would James Bond in his tailor made suits and perfect hair be considered a metrosexual? What about David Beckham, a rough soccer player who looks like a cover model? I like to think of them in old fashion terms like hunk or drop dead gorgeous


Carolyn Hughey said...

I'll go with the hunk term too!! LOL Great post, Zelda.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

I like being stuck in the past. My brain is getting to old to keep up with all the new catch phrases. Enjoyed the post, Zelda.

Carol Hutchens said...

James Bond would drop dead if we called him metrosexual, don't you think? "My" Bond guy would. LOL

I'm with you. I'll take hunk!

LaVerne St. George said...

Good question. Should writers use catch phrases? What I've noticed is that some writers try to use, say, a recent catch phrase of a younger generation, but don't fully understand all the nuances of the phrase. Boy, can that get you into trouble! Catch phrases are good, but you've got to know what you're saying to your current audience. I'm truly out of touch; what is a "new age guy"? I'm getting an image of healing crytals and strings of beads. That can't be right. Thanks, Zelda, for making us more aware of those phrases.

Zelda Benjamin said...

Thanks for the comments.
La Verne- A new age guy is not afraid to show his sensitive side. He might even cry at a movie.

Elisabeth Rose said...

A SNAG was the original--sensitive new age guy--but already that's dated, isn't it? The problem with using slang and catchy contemporary terminology is it sounds incredibly dated a few years down the track. Think of movies from the fifties and early sixties, the things they said that sound funny now.

Sandy Cody said...

Zelda, you raised an interesting question - and each of the commenters have has given it an interesting spin. I guess what it really points out is the importantance of finding fresh terms to describe those beautiful people. (Notice I couldn't come up with anything "fresh" and had to resort to something really old-fashioned.) I've never heard of a SNAG - and it's already dated!

Sandy Cody said...

Just read my comment (after it was posted). My fingers seem to have gotten stuck on importantance/importance. Oh well.

Zelda's non-metrosexual son said...

You bring up a fair point, and I think more modern terms should be used, as long as the one using them is comfortable with the term and it is contexually relevant, and not just using it to keep up with the times (then it looks like one is trying too hard, and as we sould say in the 80's - that just makes one come across as a 'poser' :o)). Although, if you think about it European men (dated as far back as history can remember - think of all the self portraits in museums and your old history books), have always had a sense of fashion (albeit perhaps not always attractive), that the American hackers of the wilderness (perhaps due to the different terrains and lifestyles of the 'new world') just never seemed to obtain until more recent times. I think Metrosexualism is more commonplace in European cultures, so inevitably Mr. Bond and Beckham, due to their cultural influences are probably, inherently more Metrosexual than they would like to admit. Now, the John Smith's and Davy Crockett's dressed in Armani and Hugo Boss - I'm not sure they'd be caught dead! :o)

Elisabeth Rose said...

There are lots of those acronyms flying about --
NIMBY --not in my backyard. People who agree to something in principle(eg halfway houses for rehabilating drug addicts) but don't want one in their street
DINKs--Double income no kids
and of course YUPPies. Young upwardly mobile people.
Are these Australianisms?? Surely not. LOL
But they'll certainly date quickly and puzzle our readers in fifty years time.

I.J. Parnham said...

I agree that things date badly and so the use of catchphrases to me is a variation on the old advice for writers of avoid cliches like the plague.

New age blokes is something I've never heard of although I've heard the phrase New Man to describe a sensitive man, but that's about 20 years old. Lads took over about 10 years ago (being unsensitive) and I don't know where things are now.

An angle on this that irritates me is Internet slang. Can't get the hang of that. Last week I was on a forum where someone used a term I'd never heard of before. Thinking it was a young people's term for a boffin I proudly claimed to be one. It didn't go down well, as the term was a bit unsavoury!