Collins Dictionary, based in London and Glasgow, got a head start on the WOTY competition in early November, selectingfake news over runners-up such as unicorn, echo chamber, and gig economy. (Related: My November 2016 post on fake.)
Now, I won’t deny that Phonetic Computer Eyewear is a distinctive name in its field, but only because it’s so utterly misleading. Phonetic means “representing vocal sounds”; a phonetician is a linguist who specializes in the study of speech. Nothing at all to do with eyesight, sharp or blurry.
Which explains why Jennifer Nycz, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University, was puzzled.
Wait-why “phonetic”? why a schwa logo? do they hope the coolness/hipness of phoneticians will transfer 2 the brand? https://t.co/VGIxSjRXZg
If you’re inclined to spend $100,000 or more for a fully loaded urban tank, Range Rover has just the thing for you: its new Velar SUV.
Picky people will point out that it’s Tata Motors’ Jaguar Land Rover Range Rover Velar. (Jaguar Land Rover has been a wholly owned subsidy of Mumbai-based Tata Motors since 2008. Tata Motors is a subsidiary of the Tata Group, founded by the marvelously named Ratan Tata.) But that’s a mouthful, and what I’m really interested in – as are you, I’m guessing – is the new name: Velar.
Years ago, I named the world’s first “bidirectional” condom, so this story really spoke to me:
Diverse & Resilient, an LGBTQ organization in Milwaukee, decided to do something about the bland branding of free condoms. So it partnered with a local marekting agency, Cramer Krasselt, to create Naughty Bags, condoms designed by teens for teens. According to Adweek, the condoms are made “to be sex-positive, humorous, and cool” and feature “witty names like Pork Parka, Pelvic Poncho, Scuba Gear, Surge Protector and—our favorite—Papa Stopper.” Brilliant – in every sense.
Into the final weeks of 2015 with one final link roundup!
Lucy Kellaway,who writes about language and writing for the Financial Times,has created Guffipedia, “a repository for the worst jargon I’ve seen over the years.” All the devils are here: onboard more resource, flex-pon-sive, diverse hairdos, etc. ad nauseam. “The point of Guffipedia,” writes Kellaway, “is not just for you to admire the extent of my guff collection, but to help me curate it going forward, as they say in Guffish.” Good point of entry: the many Guffish euphemisms for you’re fired. (Hat tip: Molly Walker.)
My latest column for the Visual Thesaurus takes a look at how nouns become verbs – and vice versa – in the language of commerce and elsewhere. If you’ve seen ads inviting you to beauty, to movie, or to pumpkin, you’ll know what I mean. But what about to gift, to share, and to contact? All began their lives as nouns before being undergoing the process known as functional shift or anthimeria (and not without controversy, in some cases).
Access to the column is open to all this month! Here’s an excerpt:
Although the examples I’ve cited here are recent, the phenomenon is not. “Flaubert me no Flauberts. Bovary me no Bovarys. Zola me no Zolas,” the novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1937. “And exuberance me no exuberances. Leave this stuff for those who huckster in it...” Facebook may have popularized to friend (the verb has been in widespread use since about 2005), but friend had occasionally been used as a verb since the 1200s, according to the OED. Four and a half centuries before there were mobile text messages, to text meant “to write in text letters” – the large writing used by clerks in the body of a manuscript. (The past-tense form of text still stymies many people. For the record, it’s texted. As linguist Arnold Zwicky pointed out in 2008, “Verbing has always weirded [not weird] language.”)