The language today

The influence of cinema and TV on language

Film and television are part of popular culture, which takes elements from the real world for inspiration and either exaggerates or creatively reinterprets them. But what happens when it is communication in the real world that is influenced by what is projected on the screen?

Many movie phrases are already part of everyday language. The voice of our conscience, or the one who plays the role of being our critical advisor, is known as Jiminy Cricket, in reference to the character from the animated film Pinocchio of 1940. Jiminy Cricket was responsible for reorienting Pinocchio’s steps after he became a compulsive liar.

Cinema and television influence us consciously and unconsciously. Often, words or expressions used on the screen are part of popular culture, so explaining an idea further is unnecessary.

Some expressions are in the collective unconscious, such as movie scenes or scenes that are believed to belong to a movie, although, they never existed. In fact, in the classic film Tarzan, the protagonist never says, I Tarzan, you Jane but hits her chest and says Tarzan, then hits Jane and says Jane. This curiosity also occurs in original novels such as Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, where the famous phrase elementary, my dear Watson never existed.

We have all grown up watching movies whose dialogues have remained forever in our subconscious. Some expressions are so massively naturalised that we often ignore their origin. For example, the word paparazzi is a linguistic loan originating from Italian, incorporated into the lexicon of Spanish, English and other languages. Its origin is in the character Paparazzo from the famous film La Dolce Vita (1960) by Federico Fellini. Paparazzo means mosquito, and in the film, it was the name of the protagonist photographer. After the film, the term began to refer to the photographers of the so-called tabloid press.

From theatre and television

Another influence of the world of entertainment on everyday speech is found in the expression gaslighting. This term originated in 1938 after the premiere of the play of the same name. In this English play, a husband tries to drive his wife into madness by dimming the gas lights in his house and then denying that the light changes when his wife points it out. From then on, the expression refers to the psychological manipulation that someone exercises on another to make them question the validity of their thoughts and perception of reality.

Peinar la muñeca (combing the doll) is a localism used in Chile to refer to someone going through an episode of alienation or disturbance or whose mental faculties are disturbed. This ingenious phrase commonly used in the country originates in the last chapter of Los Títeres. A famous soap opera shown on Chilean television in 1984. In it, the character of actress Gloria Munchmayer, now entirely out of her mind, begins to talk to her dolls and aggressively throw them into the pool. After this, the protagonist enters the pool and hugs some dolls while dips the heads of others. Finally, she maternally hugs them all while stroking their hair. The disturbing scene exuded so much isolation and madness that it remained in the national collective subconscious and became the saying peinar la muñeca used to refer to someone who does not seem to be in their right mind.

If you have been interested in the anecdote of the origin of this expression, you can review the last scene of Los títeres.

The sagas that accompany generations

A film that has influenced the language of both older and younger generations is Star Wars. It is common for some to refer to their apprentices as my young Padawan. In addition, the film saga is complete with well-known phrases, such as the traditional I am your father, from Darth Vader or the countless references people make to the dark side of the force.

And, you know: May the force -and iScribo- be with you.

Keep learning curiosities about the language and the Spanish language, visiting and reading the articles we publish weekly on the iScribo blog. If you are looking to improve your Spanish writing and correct a specific variant of this language, remember to subscribe to our wonderful grammar checker. We are waiting for you!

The language today

Emojis: the current economy of language

Since the Rosetta stone was discovered in 1799, 23 years passed before the method of reading Egyptian hieroglyphs was deciphered, mainly thanks to the studies carried out by Thomas Young, an English linguist and Jean-François Champollion, a French historian.

Similarities between ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and the emojis of the digital age are evident. However, their differences are remarkable: Hieroglyphs were a complete language represented in a writing system of strict rules. Although an illiterate person can understand some basic symbols, a high skill level is required to handle them fully.

Emojis, on the other hand, were born under the auspices of digital messages on social networks, and here, the economy of language takes precedence. Emojis are the evolution of emoticons. The origin of the latest word comes from an acronym for the terms emotion and icon. Emoticons are, as their name indicates, iconic representations that complement written texts, adding nuances or complicities in the language.

Write with images 😎 😏

In a written conversation, intonation, and everything that non-verbal communication provides disappears. Although emoticons are characteristic elements of written language, they bring those who use them closer to orality. It gives a hybrid communication style to the written communication of digital messaging. The emojis can be attributed to a change in intonation, the volume of the voice, a facial gesture, or a particular movement of the body. In short, these actions are typical of the field of study of pragmatic linguistics, which, if it were not for the emoticons, would not be present in the chat conversation.

An emoji is a wild card in written conversation since it easily and quickly explains the sender’s intention and often breaks the ice or removes the apparent abruptness of what is said in words. You can indicate that you are exhausted 😴 without having to say it by writing many words. Hyperbole can be expressed, such as being “red with anger” 😡, “being about to explode” 🤯 or “freezing to death” 🥶.

With an emoticon, we can ask for discretion 🤫, express sadness 😞, empathy 🙏, etc. In short, images economise, and at the same time enhance, the expressive function of language. They give it flavour and an essential cultural load.

History of emojis

In 1844, Morse code was used as a telegraphic communication system for the first time. What does that have to do with emojis?!, you might ask. Well, now comes the interesting detail: it turns out that, in 1857, that is, 13 years after this code began to be used, the National Telegraphic Review and Operators Guide documented that the number 73 of the code started to be employed to express “love and kisses” and then led to something more formal like “kind regards” or “best wishes.” Many radio operators say “73” at the end of a friendly call precisely since, in that context, it is currently a close way of saying goodbye or saying thank you.

World Emoji Day

As a result of all the communication commotion that emojis have caused in the digital age, in 2010, a curious holiday arose called Emoji Day. Since that year, World Emoji Day has been celebrated every July 17. This day was chosen because the first 176 emojis were created in 1999. Today, the Unicode consortium (made up of Apple, Microsoft, Google, and IBM) oversees creating new emojis.

If you dare, you should know that anyone can submit a proposal to create a new emoticon, but it is a challenge. It must meet formal requirements and demonstrate that the image will have an expected level of use. So now you know, if you want to brag that incorporating a new emoticon was thanks to your management, observe your surroundings and play, we all support you here! 😉

Keep learning curiosities about the language and the Spanish language, visiting and reading the articles we publish weekly on the iScribo blog. If you are looking to improve your Spanish writing, remember to subscribe to our wonderful grammar checker.

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