Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ad language

C0d3M0nk3y#19 Asks The Verb:
More and more, it seems like (web-based) advertising language spills over into the realm of the ungrammatical. I'm no prescriptivist, and I love Mountain Dew as much as the next guy, but it's odd, even on a sugar / caffeine high.
Thanks, CM, for this timely question. Just this morning, I've added a Stumble Upon widget to the blog template (bottom right on your screen). I did this for a silly reason: Both of their options for logos (or rather both of the ones that have text) are ungrammatical outside of their service:
Thumb this up!
Stumble it!
Both use perfectly good verbs in ways that don't work. To thumb is pretty restricted in English, probably mostly in to thumb through (a book, etc.), or to thumb your nose at somebody/something. (Back when I was young and cars were new, you could thumb a ride or thumb intransitively, meaning 'to hitchhike'.) But you can't thumb up and you can't get transitive thumb of this sort, normally. (It's easy to invent situations where it would be natural to the point of inevitable.) Stumble is usually intransitive. (And stumble upon has to have an object.)

I kinda like it because it seems like they're doing what we often see in language change: Just stretching the boundaries a little — sounds odd, but is completely clear in context. By now, this is a really familiar move, to the point that I suspect lots of people barely notice it.



Anonymous said...

I was trying to figure out what Stumble Upon was, and found this on their homepage: "Join now & see sites thumb-up by people like you." Even accepting "thumb up" (with or without dash) as a verb, shouldn't that be "see sites thumbed-up by people like you"? Or is it supposed to be happening as we speak? Oh, or how about "see sites thumb-upped"? :-)

Mr. Verb said...

Yeah, it has to be past tense somehow. I'm not sure there -- typo? pushing a little too hard to sound novel?

I was waiting for somebody to say something about putting the icon on the blog rather than on individual posts, which is the norm. A joke too dorky for this readership?