Colorful Revolutions

Colours that define history in recent times

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Hugh Rawson

The world has been blessed lately with a number of relatively nonviolent demonstrations by citizens of different nations that have led to the overthrow of authoritarianregimes. Some of these protests – in Tunisia and Egypt, for example – have amounted to revolutions.  But this has created a problem for the media: The word “revolution” implies violent, usually bloody change. Therefore, reporters and pundits have cast around for ways to qualify, or soften, the violent word, often by using the names of colors and flowers.

 The first of the recent series of popular uprisings came in Tunisia toward the end of 2010. Soon after President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled the country in January of 2011, the foreign press began referring to Tunisia’s jasmine revolution. The name seemed appropriate, at least to outside observers.  Jasmine is Tunisia’s national flower. And the phrase had been used…

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Modern marketing; from click bait to page takeovers

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Liz Walter
half an hour of web ads by dno1967b on flickr

When British writer Norman Douglas wrote in 1917 that ‘you can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements’, he probably never imagined just how far that theory would be tested in the following century. While some advertisers have been content with pithy catchphrases and addictive jingles, others have pushed the boundaries of taste and social mores to their limits in their search for the arresting image that will imprint a product’s name into the consumer’s mind. Possibly the most famous (or notorious) examples were those of the fashion firm Benetton, which provoked outrage in the 1990s with images that included a man dying from AIDS and a nun kissing a priest.

In a less shockable age, it is difficult to imagine a similar advertising campaign having such an impact, but instead new techniques are being used.  Attack ads used to be only used by…

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