Friday, November 14, 2003

On Language

Okay, so William Safire I'm not, but a while back I posted a link to a survey about the use of the words pop vs. soda to refer to a soft drink. A small debate sprung up in the now-deleted comments about it, and I wanted to post a follow-up, a question, and a new related gripe.

I'm a soda-sayer, myself. Of course that's only because I grew up saying that, but truth be told I just think pop sounds silly. It's a sound-effect, not a beverage! And soda doesn't even really pop, it fizzes. Why not "fizzy" or "bubbly?"

But whatever, to each his own. I do have a legitimate question for all you Southeasterners who say coke. I'm not being snarky, I swear, no matter how it may appear! How does that work? I mean, Coke is a brand name and in most places it means something very specific. I can see using it interchangeably with cola or Pepsi, but seriously what do you do when you want a lemon-lime carbonated beverage? Or a Tab? I'm genuinely baffled by the cultural divide and would love to know how it works.

Now on to the gripe. There are commercials running for Nestle Crunch that ask you to go to their website and vote on whether to pronounce the word caramel "car-A-mel," or "CAR-mel." Now, accents on the syllables aside, this seems pretty straightforward to me. As the spelling of the word is not a regional thing, where do the Nestle people think that second A is going to go? Why are we voting on dropping vowels from things entirely?? I won't criticize someone for saying "carmel" (I myself have been known to tawk about cawfee and drop my Rs, an unfortunate combination of my New York upbringing and Boston schooling), but come on, should there really be a debate as to how a national ad campaign pronounces it?

Fortunately, caramel is winning, but by a very narrow margin (52-48% as of this writing). I urge you all to vote so we're not subjected to a year of Shaquille O'Neal butchering the English language (well, English sweets at least) every fifteen minutes on TV.

And don't even get me started on sprinkles and jimmies.

No comments: