TV series and language: a new lingo is coming, By Lucia Antonia Dino-Guida

Yesterday, I overheard my parents talking about ships and they were not chatting about naval warfare. Immediately I started to think that in the last few years people’s way of speaking has been powerfully affected by the new golden age of television. This is why, also thanks to social networks’ contribution, words like ship have acquired new meanings and many other new expressions are now commonly used among young people and among adults all over the world.


However, I needed some kind of proof for what had been on my mind all day, so I decided to google the word ship. In the Urban Dictionary , one of the definitions provided for ship is “short for relationship” or “to endorse a romantic relationship”. I also found out that the Oxford Dictionary had also added this new meaning of the word ship to its list of new word entries in 2014. Clearly, people no longer think of ship only as a large boat. The word was created by fans to talk about romantic relationships between fictional characters in books, movies and TV shows. Because of the incredible popularity of American and British TV series, people from all over the world have begun to use it also to refer to couples in real life – it is not uncommon to hear someone saying “I ship you with my new friend” or “I ship them”, meaning “I want you to be with my new friend (in a romantic sense)” or “I want them to be together”.


Ship is not the only TV series related term which has recently become commonly used in countries other than just the UK and USA, as a large number of expressions from successful American and British TV series are now becoming part of world pop culture. For example, even if it is not a novelty for people to associate life’s hard times with winter, the expression winter is coming, used in Game of Thrones as a leitmotif to announce the arrival of a tough period, has now become a worldwide renowned phrase and a symbol of the outstanding success of the TV series. Also, the expression bazinga, used instead of fooled you! after pranks in the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, is now understood and used across the world.


The production of successful high-quality American and British TV shows, combined with the opportunity to sharing our own obsessions on social networks, has totally revolutionised the concept of being a fan of something. That is how isolated fans have turned into enormous groups obsessed with the latest episodes and constantly in touch with each other, ready to popularize words from the TV show. Also, people beginning to watch TV series in their original versions with subtitles have probably encouraged the spread of these new English expressions.


Our lives have always been affected by what we read and watch, but what has really surprised me is how TV series have suddenly become so popular and influential throughout the world. So, if winter is coming, the new golden age of television is already here.


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