[Cache – #22]

We all have words, names or labels that bug us.  Near the top of my list is “utilize,” which someone once told me is ironically useless because there is no circumstance in which you cannot use “use” instead.  Try it out some time.

On the brand name front, it is not necessarily specific names that bug me, but styles of names.  Like anything ending in ia.  Except for names such as Expedia, Wikipedia and Fruitopia, because they inspired the ia craze.  But here in 2011, ia just isn’t creative and differentiating anymore.  If you are in the process of naming something and find ia-ending names on your shortlist, rip it up or sound copycat and contrived.

Same goes for anything starting with the letter i used as a pronoun, as in Apple’s suite of iPod, iTunes, iPhone and iPad.  If you are Apple, keeping using the i prefix.  First of all, you invented it.  And because of the consistent success of your i-prefixed brands, when you introduce a new one, we are instantly able to put the product in context and understand that it’s great and quite possibly revolutionary.

Hockey Night in Canada now has an iDesk.  Then there is I-Car, i.Tv, iGive, iVillage, iSafe, iSeek, iWireless…and these are just the tip of the iceberg.  If you want to establish an intrinsically valuable naming architecture, take a lesson from Apple’s approach – just don’t copy it.

On to labels.  I think there must be a better term than “partner” to describe someone you are in an intimate relationship with.  The use of “partner” as in “business partner” is now essentially extinct, because partners can’t refer to their partners as “partners” anymore, lest people get the wrong idea.  They must now use the term “business partner.”

For committed couples, the irony is that “partner” is such an emotionless word with which to describe a loved one.  So why use it?  People don’t seem to want to use the words “girlfriend” and “boyfriend” after a certain age, or after a relationship has been going on for awhile, because to refer to your girlfriend or boyfriend in this way is purported to minimize their importance.  Why not just use “husband” or “wife”?  I have an old friend who refers to his common-law wife as his “wife” simply for convenience it seems.   No one interrupts him to say “well, Pete, you never actually got married, remember?”

Least of all his girlfriend/common-law/significant other/better half…


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