Here are a few new phrases you may not have heard before. And if you find yourself shaking your head and sighing at what has become of the English language, I would just refer you to this…
“The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”
ARG stands for ‘Alternate Reality Game’ and takes the concept of RPG, LARP and MMORPG one step further towards the real world. Players interact around the world using Twitter, email, websites, YouTube and so on, with a storyline generated by a ‘puppetmaster’ and clues disseminated to encourage players to find the conclusion to the story. This generally a lot of secrecy and groups of players cooperating to solve puzzles.
ARGs are slowly edging into popular culture, for instance Cory Doctorow’s novel Little Brother features a group of friends searching for ARG clues in downtown San Francisco when they become embroiled in events surrounding a terrorist attack on Bay Bridge.
If you fancy watching some spooky Blair Witch Project-esque video, you can catch up on the Marble Hornets ARG. It’s just started its second season. And you can read more about ARGs and join in at ARGNet and the Unforum.
Although the phrase ‘cosplay’ is an import from Japan – where cosplay is a hobby in its own right, typically featuring manga characters – Western culture has a similar history long history of costumed hobbies, for example historical re-enactment. Manga and superhero cosplay is now moving firmly into Western culture, especially at comic conventions.
Mind you, Kick-Ass may have a lot to answer for if this sort of thing catches on…
MPDG stands for ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’. An MPDG is a stereotypical female character type used in films: pretty, slim, probably brunette rather than blonde and geeky or somehow eccentric, this character usually serves as a love interest for the male protagonist.
I would like to make a couple of nominations. My first isn’t very original but I’d like to nominate Trillian played by Zooey Deschanel in that Douglas Adams film. My second nomination would be Ramona (yes the girl with the hair) played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Modding is a generic term used to describe the modification of mundane objects to enable them to perform with a function that the designers did not intend. Mundane examples include overclocking CPUs, but my personal favourites include NERF modding like this…
Weaponising toys like this…
And, of course, steampunk mods – but more about that in a future post. Sorry, but you’re going to have to come back in a week or two when that project is finished!
Otaku is a Japanese term used to describe people with a singularly obsessive hobby. This phrase is creeping into Western culture with positive connotations associated with the word ‘geek’ although it still remains a relatively negative expression when used in its native Japan.
Interestingly, there is debate about pronunciation, with both “own” (silent ‘p’) and “pone” or “pown” being accepted as alternatives.
The phrase ‘pwn’ originated as a typo from the word ‘own’ as the letters O and P are close together on the keyboard – and those digits really start to shake when the adrenalin’s running high!
As a side note, in leetspeak multiple exclamation marks can often be seen interspersed with the number ’1′. This is due to another common typo as the exclamation mark on an English keyboard is the number ’1′ shifted. For example, ‘pwned!!1!’ This has now become so widespread that it is often parodied, with leetspeakers deliberately mistyping keys, for example, ‘OMG!!!1!’