Sunday, June 11, 2017

On Language Pollution


While out and about I spotted a bumper sticker for "Ruination CrossFit" and it took me back to my recent rant about a certain portmanteau. The bumper sticker reminded me that it's not just horrid new words generated that is a problem, but the appropriation of existing words for branding and marketing purposes as well.

Even in our brave new world where tweets are creating new words and new uses for existing words, like tweet, there is still a limited pool of words relative to the number of businesses clawing for the shores of recognition. While I'm not sure what we all did before "hangry" and "manspread",  there's only so much "Microsoft" and "Verizon" to go around. Couldn't we all do without the mouthful that is "Travelocity"? Do we need  "blogebrity" and "thighvertising"? In the struggle to be "more unique" (I've heard it) than the competition, atrocities are committed against language.

Ghastly portmanteaus aside, capitalism and branding pollute (not to be confused with "brand pollution," an oft-misused advertising buzzword which is also part of the problem) by appropriation as well, and are the ruination of lovely words like ruination.

What's the solution to the pollution? Find the higher ground before we all drown? Maybe I'll just take up CrossFit.


  1. Well Larry, then i suppose you won't like billution, another portmanteau of a word here in Beijing, China..Just another list of pollution items.

    1. I'm a horrible moderator. Thanks for the comment, the link, and the portmanteau, which I do like because it's usage and not branding.