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  • Diana Schneidman

Read this “for all the right reasons”

I love to study the English language. I am fascinated by the origin and history of interesting words.

But unlike many people who love poetry and other classy stuff, I am especially interested in trite and commercial words and phrases.

So imagine my glee when Friday’s Wall Street Journal published an article on the special language developed for reality TV.

Now while my word preferences are somewhat plebian, my television tastes tend to be slightly more sophisticated.

I am too refined to dial into reality TV. So instead, I “temporarily” station myself on the steps leading from my office to the TV room so I can dip into the shows my stepdaughter watches and get a concise update from her on what’s happening.

So I have been exposed first hand to emerging vocabulary.

The producers deepen the significance of silly challenges and petty arguments by isolating participants on camera so they can summarize what has been happening and their feelings about the other contestants. There are names for these segments: on-the-fly (OTF) and in-the-moment (ITM) interviews.

The people selected for these reality shows didn’t know how to discuss their relationships on air. No surprise since they weren’t selected for their command of the language. Some were apparently chosen because their combative personalities or hot bods made for good TV. Or because they had problems with their families or partners back home that made for scintillating TV.

So producers had to develop appropriate vocabulary and coach contestants, especially for those in-the-closet (literally) OTFs.

Here for your convenience are selected phrases that can enrich our language:

  • “I’m here for the right reasons” means contestants are not participating for the publicity.

  • “I’m not here to make friends” means they are ruthless in trying to win.

  • “Journey” describes the non-travel-related (alleged) growth aspect of being on such a show.

Enjoy the complete article for its expansion on the “soul searching” and “inner strength” the journey requires.

Originally posted 3-1-10

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