Archive for the 'Language' Category

Marketing Up Like North

MaineI received a piece of snail mail today from the State Office of Tourism up in Maine (home of the Mainiacs). The flyer references, but if you try going there you’ll just be redirected (a 302, if you care about such things) to the site I’ve linked to.

The redirect isn’t what prompted me to write about it, though. I’ll give you the content inside the brochure, and you see if you can figure out what caught my attention.

We could give you
to visit Maine.

But this format really
lend itself better to like

So here we go.

  1. The incredible outdoor activities, like mountain biking, hiking, fishing, beach bumming, bird watching, golfing, boating and so much more.
  2. The food. Lobster, clams, mussels, chowder, blueberry pie and tons of other yummy treats.
  3. The shopping. We’ve got it all from quaint seaside boutiques to incredible outlets to the one and only L.L. Bean.
  4. The short travel time. Take a train or come on up in your car. Either way, you’ll get here faster than you can say dream vacation. Oh, and if you do make the trip, you’ll find out what other great things Maine has to offer.

Did you, like, catch it? No, it’s not the fact that it actually takes longer to get to Maine than it does to say “dream vacation.” I’ll cut them some slack on that one.

It’s that “but this format really lends itself better to like four” bit. Like four? Just who is the target of a travel brochure that uses that sort of grammar? Admittedly, I slip in a “like” every now and then, although I’m happy to say that the only time I use “totally” in a context like “it’s totally raining out there” is when I’m mocking the people who actually think that statement somehow communicates more than saying, “it’s raining out there”. However, I don’t think that a printed brochure that uses “like” instead of “about,” “around,” or “approximately” is better at targeting me or anybody else. It’s not as if they chose to do the whole thing in slang. True, there are plenty of sentences that aren’t sentences, but we see that in practically every piece of advertising (“New. Just for you.”)

Honestly, I don’t know what they were going for. It certainly didn’t make me want to like spend time like up like there. Totally.


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Half Equals More

As long as I can remember, manufacturers have been tacking a description of a car’s features right onto it, for all to see. As certain selling points become more common, cars will stop visually bragging about them and will come up with new ones. Just off the top of my head, some of the features I’ve seen plastered onto cars are as follows:

  • Front wheel drive
  • Fuel injection
  • Automatic
  • DOHC
  • Four Wheel Drive, along with its cousins
    • All Wheel Drive
    • 4 x 4
    • Quattro
    • 4-matic
  • Hybrid
  • 4 speed
  • 5 speed
  • 6 speed
  • V6
  • V8
  • V12
  • Rotary
  • 16 valve
  • 32 valve

HemiOne that’s apparently been around for decades, but that I’ve only noticed in the past few years is ““. My earliest memories of the Hemi idea are of those two hapless schmucks who dream of being able to answer in the affirmative to the question, “That thing got a hemi?”

What I don’t get is the choice of the name “hemi” for this feature. I mean, I can go to the official hemi site and read about it:

What is a Hemi?

Hemi is short for hemispherical, half of a sphere, the shape of the combustion chamber in the early Hemi engines. Why the hemispherical shape?

When you look at a high-performance engine, the valves are canted to position the intake and exhaust ports for best airflow into and out of the cylinder. Most reacing engines, up to the time the Chrysler Hemi was introduced in 1951, had canted valves. So do all Hemi engines — the FirePower/Firedome/Red Ram, the 426 Hemi — and the New 5.7L and 6.1L Hemis. The way to enclose these canted valves in a chamber is the half spherical, or hemispherical shape, which gives best airflow.

Fine. I get what it means. But the “hemi” part of “hemispherical,” just like “semi” and “demi,” means “half”. Doesn’t that seem a bit odd? We’re talking about big, powerful engines, put in vehicles with names like “Magnum,” “Ram” and “Charger”. Now, why do they choose to use names like that for the models? Because they connote big and powerful. They’re ultra-manly. Driving one of these vehicles is a way of saying (or hoping you’re saying) “I am big. I am powerful. I have an enormous willy.”

“Hemi,” while it’s an accurate name from an engineering standpoint, just doesn’t send that message. People know it means half, don’t they? It seems to me that the message this sends is something along the lines of “I’m a big, powerful man with a big powerful dick and I drive a big powerful truck. Why yes, I’d love some tea, but just a demitasse. Any more than that and I’ll have to go pee pee.”

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Viva Commerce! (#7)

Taco BellDear Taco Bell,
I’ve been wondering about your “authentic carne asada steak.” That’s some fancy kind of steak, like , right? I imagine you’ve got people who spend their lives massaging cattle just to make your customers’ taquitos that much more special. Am I right?

See, I don’t speak Spanish, but I looked it up, and I figure this has got to be a coincidence. Carne asada has to be special. It can’t just be what it translates to, which is cooked meat. I bet after they slaughter the special carne asada cattle, they use their skins to make rich Corinthian leather.


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Unibrows Unite

BertIt’s official: we have a real word. reports that Merriam-Webster has added a list of to the dictionary, including .

Pronunciation: ‘yü-n&-”brau
Function: noun
: a single continuous brow resulting from the growing together of eyebrows

Other honored words include:

  • mouse potato
  • ringtone
  • spyware
  • avian influenza
  • biodiesel
  • gastric bypass
  • soul patch
  • supersize
  • labelmate
  • ollie
  • wave pool
  • drama queen
  • manga
  • qigong
  • agritourism
  • big-box
  • aquascape
  • coqui
  • polyamory
  • sandwich generation

I’m just so proud. Why? It’s a hell of a lot better than having them make the official word neanderfuck.

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