I don't know who Ruth Walker is, and I'm sure she's quite the linguistic pyrotechnist, but I take umbrage to her recent reference to lil' ol' me in her April 12 entry, "Rated 'L' for Language," on her blog for the Christian Science Monitor. In that entry, she writes
The new flick, "The Hoax," for instance, ... has been rated "R" – restricted to those 17 or older without parent or guardian – "for language." For language? Don't all movies have language? a visitor from Mars would ask. Wasn't that the whole point of "the talkies"?
No, what's meant here is profanity, vulgarisms, and the like. But to say so would take more space – more words – than we would like. So "language" becomes shorthand for "foul language," and we have another case of "bad" meanings driving the "good" meanings out. ...
A quirky variant here is "momentary language," meaning, presumably, a few dirty words, rather than a nonstop stream of profanity, in an otherwise wholesome movie. I see it's a distinctive enough phrase that someone has glommed onto it as the title of a blog.
"Glommed onto it"? Glommed?! Sounded pejorative to me, but I'm just a lowly independent blogger -- unlike the clearly brilliant Ms. Walker, Christian Scientist blogger extraordinaire. Here's what the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition has to say:
1. To steal.
2. To seize; grab.
I get it; when Walker notes that "'Momentary language' is an odd concept when you think about it," and proceeds to wax inanely about the notion for a few sentences, this is a sign that she is reflective and deep, capable of detached ironic commentary on contemporary cinema and culture. When I employ the striking phrase as the title of my blog, however, I'm neither thinking nor ironic ... I'm simply glomming, I guess.
I suppose Walker's expense of so much "Verbal Energy" leaves little left over for reflection, or common courtesy.