In March 1984, the Guardian’s Washington correspondent, Alex Brummer, reported that the word yuppie was one of “America’s hottest new status descriptions”. (The other he mentioned, yummie – “young upwardly mobile moderate” – seems to have died an early death.) The same year also saw the publication of Marissa Piesman and Marilee Hartley’s tongue-in-cheek work The Yuppie Handbook: The State-of-the-Art Manual for Young Urban Professionals, with its cover showing a power-suited couple proudly sporting must-have items such as a Rolex watch, a Gucci briefcase and a Sony Walkman. Newsweek rounded off December with a cover feature declaring 1984 “the year of the yuppie”. Yet no one from the streets would have come up with a term based on the words “young urban professional” – it smacked of advertising speak. Far more authentic, and of similar vintage, was the mocking English acronym “lombard” – loads of money but a right dickhead. In today’s online information blizzard, billions of words are sent out into the fray in the hope of causing a Twitter storm, trending on Facebook or gaining countless plays on YouTube, alongside tap-dancing kittens and the latest celebrity wardrobe malfunction. In recent years, the move towards new slang being invented simply in order sell something or identify a target audience has greatly accelerated. Professional trend forecasters K-Hole – whose name is street slang for an after-effect of ketamine use – coined the term “normcore” in 2013, in which being “normal” is a supposedly radical lifestyle choice. At this year’s Social Media Week gathering in London, the ad for one event urged delegates to “put on your marketing seatbelt and get ready for a content marketing riff-a-palooza of actionable takeaways” – which sounds vaguely as if it might involve suing your local fast-food outlet – while another claimed to have identified a new target audience, the “mipster”, or Muslim hipster.

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