Friday, April 05, 2013

How dare you!

The napkin that the flight attendant handed me with my coffee on my flight to San Francisco yesterday had a Seagram's logo on it, along with this:
It's good to be you.TM
That's ambiguous!!!  I took it the wrong way at first: I thought they were saying they enjoyed being me, which I was a little offended by.

I've been trying to figure out how to describe the ambiguity. I suppose we could say there's some ellipsis:
It's good [for us / for you] to be you
and the ambiguity comes from what your interpretation is of the elided/omitted subject of "be you".

I'm glad they trademarked it.  Wouldn't want anyone stealing that slogan!


GAC said...

That's an unusual situation. I'm curious as to why your initial reading is offensive -- I can't think of a pragmatic context where it actually makes sense outside of fantasy or science fiction body-switching.

As far as this ambiguity, could we just say that the person in the state of "being you" isn't specified, and has to be retrieved from context? To use a more flexible example, if I heard "It's good to be a woman" from a man talking to another man, I would assume it to mean "It's good [for women] to be a woman" -- giving yet another reading.

Unfortunately, I don't think that adequately explains your reaction, given I don't see a pragmatic reason to use the first person referent in this case.

Monica said...

I was kidding about being offended. I was more... taken aback. Like, but, you're not me!

Unknown said...

An identity thief might say that it is great to be you. He's running up your credit cards and drinking all of your Seagram's whiskey. That's not what you want to hear when you're taking off on a long flight where they won't let you use your cell phone.