Operated by John-Riley Harper. Dedicated to archiving photography from Utah's underground scenes, as well as other personal projects.

Outsmart Badguys!
I got the piece below in the UVSC newspaper, but they omitted all of my carefully placed italics, so here it is in full.

Advertisers have never been strict adherents to English grammar, and often intentionally misshape phrases to make them catchier. You may be familiar with Pepsi’s recent slogan, “Drink Pepsi, Everyday,” a spin-off from an older “Toyota, everyday” slogan. Everyday, as one word, is synonymous with commonplace or ordinary. There is a similar phenomenon in our campus halls. Military recruiters sit behind a booth which reads, “Linguists Wanted. Outsmart Badguys!,” as do their t-shirts.

Intentional errors like this have had a lot of success for many reasons. The linguist Geoffrey Nunberg identifies the uproar over Winston cigarettes on release of the jingle, “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.” It should say “good as a cigarette should.” Nit-picky? Maybe, but they did receive a lot of negative publicity. As any advertiser knows, all publicity is good publicity. Winston furthered the campaign with: “What do you want, good grammar or good taste?” matched by other companies with slogans such as “Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch.” The outrage of pedantic linguists could then put the offense on the front page.

What then is the military’s intent? Might makes right? Are they trying to say they are so desperately in need of linguists that they can scarcely manage a legible ad? However, the recruiters don’t even seem to grasp that “Badguys” should be two words. My comments were met with perplexity. But I can’t believe it was an unintentional error at the top; the grammar was ultimately deliberate. It makes an interesting lesson for the college campus: English class teaches the rules of the English language, because only then can we break them.

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