We have new trains around these parts. These are, apparently, an improvement by virtue of being less comfortable, noisier, and less able to fit the station platforms than the trains they are replacing.
These new trains are made by Hitachi… Who wouldn’t want a train made by engineers able to turn their hand to almost anything you could possibly require? Food mixers, hard disk drives, midi systems and, erm… ‘personal massagers’? Although I’m not sure just how comfortable I’d be on a train equipped with all those travel essentials on an everyday basis.
The trains themselves are serviced in big grey sheds, emblazoned with what appears to be Hitachi’s inspirational business philosophy – only, I’m afraid it’s a bit rubbish really:
“Inspire the next”
Proudly proclaimed in huge red letters; which may sound rather grand, but in its flagrant disregard for grammatical correctness and sentence construction, it manages to completely fail to have any meaning whatsoever. Every time I see it, I can’t help thinking that either Google Translate has made a very poor job of Japanese to English, or Hitachi didn’t pay the last invoice to ‘Inspiring Business Quotes Consultancy Inc.’ and therefore ended up with only half a job.
The more likely scenario is that Hitachi have fallen into the trap of post-post modern trendiness affectation syndrome. You won’t have heard of it before, because I’ve only just coined the phrase, but believe me it’s real. I’d describe it as the affliction of believing that representing something by giving it a made-up nonsense name, title or strapline is somehow hip and trendy, which results in some truly awful abominations making their way into everyday life.
Meaningless phrases, like ‘I’m lovin’ it’; ‘Please drink responsibly’; ‘Viewer discretion is advised’; and, ‘Contains mild peril’ are rife, but far worse are the freakish names that have started appearing on consumer items. Take cars, for example: Back in the day, you could cruise the streets in a Metro, a Scimitar, a Scirocco or a Diablo- all real words that meant something and could evoke a sense for what the manufacturer wanted to communicate about their product. If they couldn’t come up with something evocative, or were just plain unimaginative, then plain old alphanumeric designations worked just as well – RO80; 520i; E-type. Somewhere between the two you could have the best of both worlds – say anything in Italian, and it just works – Cinquecento, for example… Even ‘4 doors’ sounds romantic, given the hybrid treatment – for who can resist the considerable allure of ‘Quattroporte’?
And what do we get today? A mishmash of vulgar and meaningless letters, strung together to form unwords spewed by advertising consultants, smirking smugly at their own creative incompetence. Why bother with perfectly serviceable and descriptive language that has served us well since language was first conceived, when we can have meaningless nonsense instead? Ka; C’eed; Juke; up!; Twingo; and the utterly perverse, Mazda Bongo Friendee.
Why, oh why, oh why?
Frankly, I could probably mash my keyboard for a couple of minutes and come up with a few equally idiotic names… Let’s give it a go!
Ladies, gentlemen, furries and others, I bring you the next generation of motor cars! We have, in no particular order: ‘iolgjal’; ‘Dewk’; ‘Aelro’ and, the utterly desirable, ‘Slannad Pop’ – I await the call from Nissan in due course. You’re welcome 🙂
When I ponder these things, it reminds me how fortunate we are that the developers and designers at Linden Lab are a pretty unimaginative bunch. Take a look at the slew of viewers and projects under development, and you’ll see a far more prosaic take on naming conventions. The selection of clients offered, for example, is pretty much a case of ‘does what it says on the tin’ – for example, we have the Second Life Obsolete Platforms Viewer, the Project Animesh Viewer, and the Project 360 Snapshot Viewer. You know exactly what you’re getting with these, no messing about, and no fancy-pants frivolity with the names, although very occasionally a little levity can slip through the net, ahem… the Second Life Love Me Render Viewer – boring they may be, but SL devs are romantics at heart.
In terms of what goes on behind the scenes, the techies become a little less restrained and a little more inventive, for example Project Bento and Project Shiny, but thank goodness the Lab has never gone down the nonsense route that so many companies think add some sort of wow factor for their consumers. What we get with SL is tried and trusted formulae, occasionally quirky, but otherwise solid, dependable and reliable, no-nonsense stuff – that tells us a lot about the product, and far more about the company behind it.
Give me ‘Your world, your imagination’ over ‘Inspire the next’ any day!
Staring with affection at their own reflection
Alice Donut – The Puny And Revolting Men Of Advertising Smile