Monday, January 18, 2010

Parallelism

This is America, after all, so we'll assume that Whitco Insurance doesn't actually sell people, even though that's what its sign says. I understand that the sign isn't big enough to hold the word "insurance," or that they may have run out of S's. I know Mister Whitco is trusting Gulfport's citizens to use that phenomenon of closure to add "insurance" in their minds as they drive by on the way to Walgreens to get some Moose Tracks.

I don't mind any of that, but I do mind it that Whitco also sells "car" insurance. I mind the inconsistency of language here. Why is one type of insurance for an inanimate object (a car) and the other for an animate object (a person who owns a home)? Why not "car insurance" and "house insurance"? Or "carowners insurance" and "homeowners [insurance]"?

Unbelievably, I'm not even complaining about "homeowners" being one word, or about the lack of a possessive apostrophe. No. I'm grousing about the disorderly usage.

I think it has to do with euphemisms. Really now, you don't buy a "home." You buy a "house." Only love and cinnamon -- not insurance -- make a house a home. But the whole real estate industry is about making the structures we live in sound better than they really are. Hence, "cozy" really means "cramped."

And speaking of synonyms, let raise our voices (in unison, of course) to wish Peter Mark Roget a happy birthday. Since he was born in 1779, he won't be smiling and blushing while we sing, but his famous Thesaurus, first published in 1852, has been in print ever since then, so perhaps his spirit is coloring with pride at such an accomplishment.

I think we should all celebrate this occasion -- observe, commemorate, keep, remember, solemnize, extol, honor, praise, eulogize, glorify, exalt, toast -- by using as many synonyms as possible, all day long, in everything we do. Repeat, reiterate, reassert. Another fun activity would be to ponder the fact that there's no synonym for synonym.

8 comments:

randaj2 said...

Okay, all right, so be it, amen!

flahoos said...

Since it is now Tuesday morning, I guess I am too late, tardy, slow, belated, behindhand, dilatory, in abeyance to commemorate the occasion.

Chris said...

Actually, we (insurer's) do typically think of it as Homeowner's Insurance, WITH the apostrophe. Not that it makes things any more consistant, merely that if you're going to rant do it with all the facts. I agree, it should be "HOUSE" if it's going to be "AUTO". "Automobileowner's" is just way too unwieldy.

olga kruse said...

Loved it again! Please, if we all were so honest with our language; well, there'd no place for the Natterer I suppose and that would be a bad place.

Lorenzo di Calabria said...

No synonym for synonym. but at least there's an antonym for antonym.

Melanie said...

But I don't wanna be for sale!

Steve Robinson said...

Chris said...
"Actually, we (insurer's) do typically think of it as Homeowner's Insurance, WITH the apostrophe."

"Insurer's"? Knowing how "writer's" are, I can't believe you haven't yet pounced on that, Babs. Someone call the Apostrophe Police!

Cheers,
Steve R.

I'd also like to add that The Apostrophe Police makes a spiffing band name. (Well, you know how "musician's' are...)

Barbara said...

But Steve, old chap, my goal here is NOT to antagonise (!) my readers (with the possible exception of YOU). PLUS ... I was writing this blog using the Whitco sign when someone from Whitco called. It was freaky. Is my unpublished blog being monitored by local insurance companies and NOT the government, as I had suspected?

No. In an unrelated action, I had almost but not quite filled out an online form on Whitco's website. I might be moving to a house soon and I haven't a clue how much homeowners (!) insurance is. Although I never hit ENTER, they got my information, and Chris of "insurer's" fame called me right while I was writing this blog. It terrified me, so I'm laying low, staying under his radar, hiding out.