Song and word usage

Page Stephens hpst at EARTHLINK.NET
Thu Apr 29 12:46:36 UTC 2004

I was kidding when I sent my last message but there just might be a gem of
an idea in it worth exploring.

This is the fact that one fertile area for linguistic research is popular

It is probably trivially correct that most word usage in popular music
reflects rather than originates word usage. On the other hand if you have
ever written a song the first thing you have to do is to glom onto popular
usage so that your song is understandable to the masses. In addition if you
want your song to become popular if even for a short time you have to be
shortly ahead or at least up to date in terms of the linguistic curve so
that it appeals to those who are in the in in terms of knowing popular
usage. (I challenge anyone out there to find a way to use the word "in" as
many times as I did in that last sentence)

One of the ways you can do this is to find a catch phrase which you can do
by way of double entendre. Another way you can do this is to use as many
current words as possible so that you catch the linguistic current on the

Most slang is transcient until it is preserved in hard copy, and popular
song is a form of hard copy. Thus if a song becomes popular a word can be
preserved for many years after it has left normal usage and occasionally
someone who knows or sings the song will bring the word back.

Do any of you out there know of anyone who has done a study of this subject?

Page Stephens

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