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Word Watch

November 27, 2005|BRENDAN BUHLER

Know a word that's hip, streetwise and with it -- a word troubled youths can relate to in turbulent times? Neither do we. But we know it's not "bling-bling."

This hip-hop bon mot for flashy jewelry is so passe that a Lexis/Nexis search reveals U.S. newspapers and wires used it in 5,215 articles in the last year. The New York Times sported it in 101 pieces -- and a paper that uses honorifics and calls joints "marijuana cigarettes" is where slang goes to die. But then so are the Washington Post (100) and the Los Angeles Times (89), which combined with the N.Y. Times for a total of 290 tricked-out stories, up from 44 four years ago when Sean "P. Diddy" Combs announced the end of the "bling-bling era."

Yet just look at the way this week's Current flings the bling. And it's not just the uses that grate -- it's the misuses. Like when the New York Times called bluesman Robert Johnson's career a "moment of bling." Or when this Times pronounced a GMC van "blingy," then described it as a "sitting room on wheels." To writers tempted to pimp their prose: Try a little stop-stop.

-- BRENDAN BUHLER

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