Saturday, February 11, 2006


Larry Neumeister writes in an AP story, "'Cool" remains the gold standard of slang in the 21st century, as reliable as a blue-chip stock, surviving like few expressions ever in our constantly evolving language."

Here are some more excerpts:

"[B]y the 1940s, the word exploded into popular usage through its constant use in jazz clubs, where musicians showed the versatility of a word that had already enjoyed wide use in the nation's black population.

The 1997 book, 'America in So Many Words'...traces the origination of the modern usage of cool to the late 1940s. In 1947, the book noted, the Charlie Parker Quartet recorded 'Cool Blues.' [Charlie Parker is depicted above.]

A year later, Life magazine titled an article 'Bebop: New Jazz School is Led by Trumpeter Who is Hot, Cool and Gone.' And in 1948, The New Yorker said 'the bebop people have a language of their own. ... Their expressions of approval include "cool."'

Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at the University of California at Berkeley, said the word should have faded away at the end of the fifties. Instead, it was adopted and redefined by hippies, followed by surfers, rappers and techno-geeks."

No comments: