Crossover Words Or Phrases

As a writer, words are the building blocks of everything I produce. Using them well, using them correctly and using them to their best effect is the foundation of every sentence, paragraph and article I write. Needless to say, I take particular notice of words, whether writing them or reading them.

Have you ever noticed how some words, created specifically for an area of expertise or discipline or even age group, eventually bleed over into everyday vocabulary usage? I was reminded of that process, and how jarring it can be when a word first begins to crossover, while reading a magazine at lunch today.

Originally, the word “mashup” referred to the practice of hip-hop and/or pop musicians producing a new song by mixing two (and sometimes, more) existing pieces of music. It did not enjoy widespread usage among those outside the music industry.

“Mash-up” (or mashup) is a word that only recently (within the last 2 years, maybe less) came into usage within the technology field as a means of describing the result of taking two separate software applications and mashing them together to create a helpful program. For example, the marriage of Google Maps with a program that alerts you to available rental resources. The resulting mash-up allows you to plot on a map where each house, apartment or houseboat might be located.

Until today, I had never seen the word used outside of the area of technology, but while reading the latest issue of Conde Nast Traveler I came across this phrase, describing an area of St. Petersburg, Russia, “A similar stylistic mash-up occurs around Alexander Column…” and my eyes just stopped at the shock of seeing the word in the totally unexpected environment of a travel magazine.

Sort of like the other day when a co-worker in her late 60’s ended an e-mail to me with the phrase, “It’s all good.” I almost burst out laughing at my desk because I just don’t associate the phrase with anyone over the age of 30 unless they’re purposely trying to be funny, like my friend Denise. However, this woman wasn’t trying to be funny, which had the effect of instantly making it funny as the phrase crossed over that invisible age-line; the point at which a word or phrase loses its original “coolness” or usage factor.

Have you ever been surprised by a word or phrase from one field crossing over into the general vocabulary? Share in the comments section below.

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