One of the greatest attributes of the English language is its pliancy. Words bend not only their meaning but also their function acrobatically and almost on demand. This makes English the ideal language for advertising. Marketing companies are always inventing slogans and phrases which strain at the bounds of meaning in order to move product. The only other language I’m fluent in is Russian and when I read an ad in it I usually cringe. The native tongue of Dostoyevsky and Chekhov is far too flowery and long-winded for Apple and Miller Lite.
So embedded is commerce in daily speech here that words used in corporate-speak often trickle out to the laity and become part of common parlance. The other night I was invited to hear the writers Irvine Welsh and Don De Grazia discuss the new musical play they wrote, which is called Creatives. That name is an example of one of the most frequent ways words morph; an adjective is now a noun. In the business realm, where this term is now common, it makes some sense. The people who come up with new ideas and make models of those ideas that corporations can then replicate a million times over can now all be herded under one tiny umbrella. A word which used to signify boundless possibilities is now a vague and nebulous term for one of the cogs in the machine.
Don and Irvine’s play has to do with theft of intellectual property. I’m looking forward to seeing it later this week even though someone in the production insists on calling it a popra, which doesn’t sound like anything anyone should have to sit through. I haven’t yet had the pleasure (honor?) of being called a creative myself nor do I anticipate that term being bestowed upon me anytime soon. What I’ve come up with so far has very rarely yielded anyone much of a profit so I’m hardly worthy of the title. It’s far more likely that there are more appropriate words to describe me in Russian.
p.s. Go see I Am Not Your Negro. I haven’t seen or read anything recently which speaks as eloquently to our present condition in this country.