Thursday, December 3, 2015

Movie Language

As a popular mass media, movies have had a considerable impact on language.  For example,many famous lines from cinema classics from years ago are still remembered if most people have never seen the actual movie.  In some cases, the movie title or its star is transformed into a standard English term with a meaning derived from its source.

A recent example of such is a description of a terrorist event as a “Rambo attack”, meaning a brave but foolish assault by a lone individual.  One of solutions proposed for solving such attacks was a “Terminator” approach, meaning a tactic allowing for no mercy. An older but still relevant use of movie titles for actual warfare was Reagan’s famous “Star War Defense”, which involved using lasers in space to stop ICBM’s.  Armies worldwide are still trying to design effective Star War, i.e. laser, guns.

Yet, movie names do not only have violent connotations. While also a famous play and ballet, everybody knows why a couple is called a real “Romeo and Juliet.” Watching nature programs with captive animals sometimes evokes Free Willy comments, referring to the movie about the release of an orca back into nature.  

Sometimes the actors themselves gain a linguistic identity. Despite their being in the grave for a long time, everybody envies a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodger on the dance floor, i.e.  beautiful dancers. Fading in recent years, a Lana Turner has beautiful long legs, still an ideal of feminine beauty.

So, movies not only give immortality on the silver screen but also occasionally a permanent record in the dictionary.  Live long and prosper.

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