Tuesday, September 23, 2014

BOGO or Bobo?

A whole lexicon of acronyms is multiplying faster than I can keep up.

I thought that teaching high school students, teaching college students, and a penchant for action films and hard rock music would keep me abreast of Generation I's lingo, but I seem to be falling behind.

One night while indulging my guilty pleasure of watching Investigation Television (Homicide Hunter and Deadly Women are two of my favs), I saw a commercial for a sale at Payless shoe store.  Here was this cutesy, twenty-something blonde loading up her trunk with a bundle of shopping bags saying that it was the best "bogo" sale ever.

What in the hell is a "bogo" sale?

Since the commercial didn't present the term in all capital letters, it technically didn't qualify as an acronym. I didn't bother to look it up (or pay enough attention to the commercial), so I didn't learn what it was until I was shopping online and saw the phrase again: BOGO sale.  This time, it was capitalized correctly and below it was written "Buy one, get one 1/2 off."

Ah-ha: BOGO sale.  I am quite familiar with the concept; it's the new terminology that was, well, new to me.

Now that I am enlightened, I must criticize. Technically, BOGO just stands for "buy one get one," which could cause confusion.  Is the retailer reminding me that if I buy one of whatever that I will be getting just one item? Or is the retailer reassuring me that if I buy one of whatever, I will indeed get what I bought? The more accurate acronym for a "Buy one, get one 1/2 off sale" would be a BOGO HO sale. And the can of worms that advertising could open up could be cataclysmic.  Or at the very least, illegal.

My pedantic analysis aside, the phonetics of the BOGO (HO) sale are problematic. I don't know about other shoppers, but asked if I wanted to go to a BOGO sale, I'd be inclined to say "no" because it sounds too much like a sale of stupid people. Or a sale for stupid people. 

I commend advertisers for keeping it fresh, for incorporating the language the youth into your ads, for contributing to the degradation of the English language. But, I do recommend that you say your new, catchy phrases out loud to make sure that the older, less hip Gen Xers go to those sales as well.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I Say Colon; You Hear Butthole

Even though I teach English, not all of my friends are teachers. I do have a handful of friends that also teach, but neither of my best friends work in fields remotely related to academia. They are intelligent, accomplished professionals, but like most people, they are not grammarians.

Knowing the intricacies of English grammar is not a survival skill; it isn't even the key to success (a friend is currently padding her bank account by doing workshops related basic writing for very accomplished audiences, for example, the Navy Seals) but because I spend so much time contemplating and teaching grammar I assume that my knowledge is common knowledge: I often forget that the average person doesn't understand the function of the colon.

The colon, the two periods on top of each other as my students call it, has three basic functions: to introduce a list, to signal an elaboration or example of what came before the colon, and to build up anticipation.The colon (:) can be replaced with the words "for example," "to elaborate," or "wait for it!"

Recently, while engaging in a round of Crabs Adjust Humidity (an off-shoot and addition to Cards Against Humanity) with my group of non-teacher friends, as Card Czar I drew the following "question" card: "_______________________: Ain't nobody got time for that."

I thought that sharing the use of the colon (:) would help my friends come up with witty answers, so I said, "Blank colon (:) Ain't nobody got time for that." By doing so, I thought my friends would grab onto the "wait for it" aspect of the punctuation in order to construction a witty response. I waited in anticipation for the rhetorical genius to come my way:
  • "Micropenis: Ain't nobody got time for that."
  • "Breeding elves for their priceless semen: Ain't nobody got time for that."
  • "Two midgets shitting into a bucket: Ain't nobody got time for that."
The kind of wittiness I envisioned was not what I got.  When I said colon (:) they heard

My friends were so excited for me to read their answers: they were laughing before I even flipped their cards over.  When I began to read them, I put down the question card for them all to see and the miscommunication was immediately seen.

"You meant the punctuation," a friend said.  "I thought you meant the other colon."

Of course, I extemporized on the ridiculousness of that assumption. I know that CAH is a crass, bathroom-humor type of game for twisted minds, but in what world does "_____________ colon: Ain't nobody got time for that" make any sense?  Mircropenis: makes sense; breeding elves for their priceless semen: makes sense; two midgets shitting in a bucket: makes sense.

My friends proved me wrong.  The answers they provided actually did make sense in both contexts: the punctuation and the anatomy.
  • "A butt-plug in the shape of a rolled-up copy of the U.S. Constitution"
  • "A tossed salad"
  • "Struggle Snuggles"

Which one did I pick as the winner? Struggle Snuggles, just to be spiteful.