Thoughts on genre, language, grammar, and other
rhetorical and linguistic norms
rhetorical and linguistic norms
You know a new year is coming when media, small talk, and your own thoughts start to turn to these genres—the top six markers of the New Year.
6. Bowl games
Football is everywhere this time of year—pro games and college games. But the true sign that it’s New Year’s weekend is the college bowl games. Whether you like sports or not, whether you’ve seen the movie Concussion and vowed not to watch any more football or not, you can’t miss that a lot of Sponsor Bowl games are happening.
The titles of those bowl games are an interesting topic, too. Gone are the good old days (to this good old girl) of Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Sun Bowl, and Cotton Bowl. Oh, I’d accept Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. But now we have 41 bowl games, according to the NCAA (not counting the new championship game, which doesn’t have a bowl title), including the Dollar General Bowl, Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, and my personal favorite, the Taxslayer Bowl. Of course, those are all newbies compared to the original East-West football game, which started the whole “bowl” label when in 1923 it moved to the stadium called the Rose Bowl. Change happens. But Bowl games continue, whatever they’re named. And they help us know that it’s the New Year.
And now a much simpler genre than football bowl games, but one with its own variations and surrounding spectacle. It wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve without a countdown. The countdown while watching the ball drop in Times Square in New York City might be the most famous one in the US. But those of us who watch TV on New Year’s Eve (not me, of course) will also know about countdowns in Aukland, Sydney, Hong Kong, Dubai, Berlin, London, and Rio, at least. For those famous countdowns, I might have added in fireworks shows, too. But I have been to a private party on New Year’s Eve, so I wanted to include in this genre the simpler but equally enthusiastic countdowns of friends and family celebrating either the end of the last year or the fresh start of a new one.
4. Toasts (and kisses)
Speaking of those more intimate gatherings . . .
After that countdown, kisses drown out toasts. And there certainly are variations on that New Year's Eve kiss genre, from the friendly acquaintances’ peck on the cheek to the partners’ passionate lip lock. Not to mention the stranger’s drunk slobbery one, but I hope you’ve never encountered that one
But before the countdown, after the countdown, at New Year’s Eve parties, at New Year’s Day dinners, there must be a toast. You can even find websites with lists of New Year’s Eve toasts. A classic, repeated often:
"May we all be alive at this same time next year."
You might’ve expected resolutions at the top of the list, as number one, but I think resolutions might be more often talked about than talked. But for those of us who spend time reflecting on the past year, resolutions may follow. We all know the reputation of this genre as something that doesn’t last very long. But maybe its purpose has been met once it’s made. “I resolve to eat fewer sweets.” The resolution is there. Whether I eat fewer sweets or not after that is a different matter.
2. Advice for better diet/exercise/money habits
Many in the media notice our resolve and try to help with magazine and newspaper articles, TV feature stories, and blog posts, all giving us that secret advice that this time will make a difference. Otherwise known as the same advice they give every year and that we’ve all read before. Still, what would the New Year be without inspirational articles that help us believe in our resolve to be better people? After all, the New Year is a fresh start.
Want some advice? Happy to share a few:
Have SMART resolutions for 2017
Tips for Financial Success in 2017
New Year's Resolution for Healthy Lifestyle
1. Best of Year Lists
And at the top of the list, because it’s my favorite genre of this time of year, is the best-of list. Sometimes it’s the top 16 movies of 2016, or the 20 books published this past year that everyone should read, or, maybe the most common, the top news stories of the past year. Between my local and national newspapers, social media, and blog reading, I saw some version of all of these and more. And here of course, I’m offering you my own Best-of list with the top six genres in honor of 2016.
Here are a few best-of lists:
20 Best Films of 2016
10 Best Books of 2016 (NY Times)
Best Books of 2016 (Chicago Tribune, free access)
Top 10 Science Stories of 2016
In some ways, this last genre combines some elements of all the others–except football bowl games, of course. It includes its own countdown; it toasts the best of the last year; it offers advice for the best things to watch/do/know about for the past year, which, in me at least, usually makes me resolve to watch/read/learn about at least one thing on the list. And, to top it off, there is little chance of a concussion.
So here’s to a happy and healthy 2017. May you live out your own versions of the 6 genres all year long
Happy New Year!