“Lynchian,” “Kubrickian,” “Tarantinoesque” and 100+ Film Words Have Been Added to the Oxford English Dictionary

Image via Oxford Eng­lish Dic­tio­nary

Get inter­est­ed enough in any­thing, and you soon dis­cov­er its lan­guage. Each sub­ject, pur­suit, and area of cul­ture has its own slang, its own jar­gon, even its own gram­mar: that goes as well for physics and fish­ing as it does for cook­ing and cin­e­ma. Though quite spe­cial­ized, the vast lex­i­con of that last has also con­tributed a great deal to Eng­lish as gen­er­al­ly used. The lat­est update to the ven­er­a­ble Oxford Eng­lish Dic­tio­nary has added more than 100 of these terms, from already well-known expres­sions like “edge-of-your-seat,” “not in Kansas any­more,” and “blink and you’ll miss it” to the less-com­mon likes of kai­ju (the Japan­ese bat­tling-mon­ster genre that gave us Godzil­la), and Foley (the art of adding inci­den­tal sounds to movies in post-pro­duc­tion), and gore­hound (an enthu­si­ast of the gorefest, a genre whose sen­si­bil­i­ty you can well imag­ine).

Many of the new entries have to do with par­tic­u­lar direc­tors and their styles. “The list runs through a range of gen­res and loca­tions, from the wide land­scapes of the Amer­i­can West evoked by For­dian to Swedish soul-search­ing with Bergmanesque,” writes the OED’s Craig Ley­land. The old­est, Keatonesque, “dates from 1921, near the start of an extra­or­di­nary run of suc­cess for the com­ic actor and film-mak­er, and typ­i­cal­ly refers to Keaton’s famous dead­pan expres­sion and pen­chant for phys­i­cal com­e­dy. The most recent is Taran­ti­noesque, first seen in 1994 – the year Pulp Fic­tion appeared in cin­e­mas,” which refers to qual­i­ties like “graph­ic and styl­ized vio­lence, cinelit­er­ate ref­er­ences, non-lin­ear sto­ry­lines, sharp dia­logue, and more – and is a reminder of the impact these films had on cin­e­ma in the 1990s.”

Oth­er auteur-spe­cif­ic addi­tions include Spiel­ber­gian (“fan­tas­ti­cal or human­ist themes or a sen­ti­men­tal feel”), Lynchi­an (“not­ed for jux­ta­pos­ing sur­re­al or sin­is­ter ele­ments with mun­dane, every­day envi­ron­ments”), and of course Kubrick­ian (“metic­u­lous per­fec­tion­ism, mas­tery of the tech­ni­cal aspects of film-mak­ing, and atmos­pher­ic visu­al style in films across a range of gen­res”). Sev­er­al terms denot­ing broad­er move­ments and styles have also made it in, includ­ing mum­blecore, “a style of low-bud­get film typ­i­cal­ly char­ac­ter­ized by nat­u­ral­is­tic and (appar­ent­ly) impro­vised per­for­mances and a reliance on dia­logue rather than plot or action” which emerged about a decade ago, and Ham­mer, denot­ing the hor­ror films made from the 1950s to the 70s by British pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny of that name, “still famous and loved for their lurid, melo­dra­mat­ic style.”

Mas­ter these words and you’ll sure­ly hold your own in casu­al cinephile con­ver­sa­tion. But you can only get so deep into talk­ing about movies if you can’t con­fi­dent­ly bring out terms like arc shotdiegetic, and mise-en-scène. As one of the most capa­cious art forms, cin­e­ma brings togeth­er a num­ber of lan­guages all at once, includ­ing the visu­al lan­guage as defined by direc­tors like Sovi­et mon­tage pio­neer Sergei Eisen­stein (he of Eisen­stein­ian) and the lan­guage the screen­play gives its char­ac­ters to speak (an espe­cial­ly dis­tinc­tive ele­ment in the case of film­mak­ers like Taran­ti­no). But those are essen­tial­ly soli­tary plea­sures, enjoyed in a dark­ened the­ater or liv­ing room. Isn’t one of the most endur­ing joys of film­go­ing talk­ing about the movies with oth­er peo­ple lat­er — and to sound as expert as pos­si­ble while doing so?

via OED/Indiewire

Relat­ed Con­tent:

What Makes a David Lynch Film Lynchi­an: A Video Essay

How the Sounds You Hear in Movies Are Real­ly Made: Dis­cov­er the Mag­ic of “Foley Artists”

Colum­bia U. Launch­es a Free Mul­ti­me­dia Glos­sary for Study­ing Cin­e­ma & Film­mak­ing

Vin­tage Film Shows How the Oxford Eng­lish Dic­tio­nary Was Made in 1925

Ter­ry Gilliam on the Dif­fer­ence Between Kubrick & Spiel­berg: Kubrick Makes You Think, Spiel­berg Wraps Every­thing Up with Neat Lit­tle Bows

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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