Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Those words don't mean what you think they mean

Randomly click on any trending topic on twitter that isn't a sport.  Right, now you're looking at underage boys talking about One Direction, using words that have some origin in the English language but don't make sense in their particular order.  That's the internet.  The weird baby talk that annoying couples invent between themselves, only in public and within large groups.

Annoying, but to be fair that's how language works.  Now mix in Madison Avenue, or PR firm interns in the case of PSAs.  Things get brainstormed, workshopped, and focus grouped to the point that utter nonsense sounds normal.

Take this old standby "Back to Cool!" for a late August children's clothing and school supply sale.  Horrible, but at least it's a working pun.  "Back to Fashion!" or "Back to Style!", not so much, and by "Back to Fun!" or "Back to Savings!" they've completely lost it.

My library, and I imagine others, have had an "I Geek [blank]" poster campaign.  The geek is supposed to be like a heart shape on a bumper sticker, and should really be a different design or at least font to emulate that.  Also, geek is not a verb.  "To geek out over" would be.

I'm sure they don't mean mentally ill alcoholics that bite the heads off chickens in a sideshow.

The modern meaning of geek is one who has an obsessive interest in something, typically entertainment based, and usually to the detriment of their social skills.  That last bit has been softened or sometimes embraced.  This gives us film geeks, comic geeks, maybe music geeks if their tastes are esoteric enough.

It does not work as a verb, and does not work when applied to an activity rather than a passive interest.  "I geek acting" doesn't work, and "I geek alternative commuting" makes baby Jesus cry.

I saw a food drive with the motto "Pimp Your Joy".  This was a directive, as in "Pimp your joy and give us that ten year old jar of olives from the back of your pantry."  I think it has an origin in some daytime talk show or motivational speaker or something, I don't hate myself enough to look it up.

Presumably they don't mean coerce your joy into prostitution, even figuratively.  The other meaning of pimp is to adorn, ornament, or fancify, as in "Pimp my ride" or "Pimp my crib" or other things white people think black people say.  Neither definition work with joy.

Then there is the question of taste.  It's questionable for some horrible reality TV show or the like, but a titch inappropriate when serving the most disenfranchised level of society, the ones that are the most likely to have actually been sexually exploited.  "Much like your were forced to have sex with strangers to feed your boyfriend's meth addiction, our employees pimped their joy to give your baby this jar of capers."

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