I hear a lot of talk nowadays about free speech. The truth is, however, that, for the halfwit, language always costs something. Wordsworth never wrote too much about a word’s worth, as it wasn’t worth it to him; advertisers, however, have considered this idea, and, since then, they’ve been capitalizing on your desire to buy a moment’s identity.
Fancy yourself fond of the Quaint and the Cozy? Perhaps you’re best sold by a bit of the Olde. Anglo-Saxon and Gaelic antiquity have been deemed by Moderns as the kings of all things quaint and cozy. To sell rubbish of the like, the key is to sound not too old, so as to confuse and intimidate your customers with a powerful ancientness. Rather, if a business wants to sell a sleepy evening, just throw, as Rich Boy might have suggested, a few e’s on it. Additionally helpful would be a k or two, or, if you’re of bolder ilk, three. Ye Olde Gifte Shoppe works well on your standard child but take heed—those with a need for tweed require more sophisticated ruses as adults and thusly seek establishments anointed with such titles as Pumblechook’s Publick House, Sigrid’s Steake and Steinn, or Wycliffe Taverne. And a post-prandial stroll would be better appreciated upon Grosvenor’s Greene than upon anything merely green.
So, you want Cozy but not necessarily Black-Plague-and-dysentery-in-the-chamber-pot cozy? You might, then, just consider something vaguely British. American orthography and speech, although often etymologically older than our dentist-less counterparts’, have been deemed by the hoi polloi as too modern. Indeed, the English have been chosen as the gatekeepers of Cozy, even their books on murder and grand deception donning the title “Cozies.” Yes, simply anglicize anything you’d like by a smidgen, and you have yourself not a boring, old, belt-line-to-your-armpits American movie theater stinking of Stetson cologne, but a Centre Cinema. It’s not curb service, you bean-burning cowboy, rather kerb service. Tire Town is tired, so make it Village Tyres. Whether you’re selling favours, colours, programmes, or connexions, they all, with a bit of the Union Jack jacking things around, sound identical but look somehow classier.
Although I might argue that people find the Brits cute due to the modern caricature of their previous ways resembling something vaguely child-like, another way to swindle someone with the Sweet would be to jettison the Anglophilia for a moment to inhabit the orthography of a true child. This method works best on people with lots of money and no taste. With pockets full and head empty, Kathy stops by the Kit Kat Klub, and Beth, who is not a big reader, by Olive ‘r Twist Cocktails. Mark finds nothing wrong with the Kuntry Kitchen’s rather salty menu, neither Sandy with the Sip ’n’ Sup’s predictable array. And the business performed by the Knick-Knack Knook caters mostly to those with an appetite for local history at second-hand prices. So, k’s are cute yet classless.
Many of your contemporaries will mention to you that they find class systems to be archaic forms of arbitrary hierarchy under which oppression is the main side-dish, yet those same many are just as hungry to purchase their spot. Which shop possesses the pleated trousers on which one may really count? Dave’s Pants Store? or The Regiment for Men? There’s a sale this weekend at both Hal’s Hut and Lorrimer Limited. Where exists the better buy? You are to buy a wedding gift for lost-trusted friend: as regards general quality, does the General Outlet Depot or Regency Room Exclusives ring the sacred bell of fraternity? Fine wares are desired: The Squire Shop, Carriage Trade Fashions, or Joe’s Quality Goods? Wrong. So, why did we choose those other stores? My bet is that we see these titles as resembling those of the nineteenth century’s, a century associated with class.
And nothing says class to the philistine like anything French. It’s a certainty in English: use more French-derived words, sound smarter. In 1066 A.D. the French talked it over with the English, and English said it would be OK to let them run the island for a while. Therefrom the French perfumed up the place for a few hundred years. Chaucer wasn’t into it, but everyone else who knew what was what did their business in French. Therefore, French words in English hold a special, higher place in the lexicon. If one wants to kill an animal and turn his or her skin or flesh into either a bag, shoe, or dinner, just throw a French appellation on it, and things are all right.
For example, two gentlemen walk into L’endroit Pour Manger, which they know to be spectacular. One asks what’s in the Soupe du jour. The waitress, new to her craft, ventures a wry one: “It changes every day.” That same gentleman smiles blankly. The other gentleman submits a perusal to the le menu and runs a stubby finger over and subsequently stumbles painfully through pronouncing the following:
- Oeufs durs et crudiés de la saison, “well done, please.”
Our waitress smiles. And for dessert?
- Pommes de terre frites et haricots verts du potager
But illiteracy can also be used to one’s advantage. Imagine that you need to sell tons of garbage in bulk quantities to simple, no-fuss folk with a job to do. The salt of the earth can’t be bothered with the French, neither have they time for English. Who needs to lay a tough coat of caulk, whenever one could grab a tube of Tuff-Kote. Need to slap up something quick? Try Kwik-Kote Paint. Why work hard, whenever Redi-Kash loans are easy? Dri-Kleen spot remover for those meatball sandwich stains—E-Z-Gro fertilizer for the do-it-yourselfer who takes no guff. Even jetsetters sometimes struggle with reading. For that, there’s the fairly priced Nite-Flite Air Fares.