Saturday, 24 November 2007

All this verbification really goats me; I feel like kululaing Nike

I nearly swallowed my steering wheel the other day when I spotted a new* billboard, draped over a pedestrian bridge across Jan Smuts Avenue. It wasn't the ditzy, squint-eyed picture of a Kulula trolley-dolly that shocked me (although I have to say that I don't want to fly with any airline whose crew members think their job is a big joke); it was the slogan. 'COME FUN WITH US!' blared the billboard.

Come fun with us? Huh? How do you 'fun' with an airline? Crack a few jokes as flames erupt from the wing? Whip a pistol from your knickers and shout 'April Fool!'? Deploy the emergency slides in mid-air and shout, 'Jumping castle, everyone!'

Most important, when did 'fun' become a verb? Which perforated septum of a copywriter thought this one up?

Look, I love how elastic English is, and adore buzzwords, but all this verbing (shudder!) is getting on my nerves. (Wikipedia has an interesting piece about verbification. The article quotes a Calvin and Hobbes strip that ended with the words, 'Verbing weirds language' - exactly!)

Click on the image to read the bubbles:

Now feeling sensitised to verbing, I've spotted the following in the past few weeks:

'This is how I war'. (A slogan for Nike, who have also tastefully draped their banners all over Johannesburg. I sincerely hope that Dubya doesn't pick up on this one: 'Heck, let's war 'em!'. )

'We're going to re-purpose this chair, honey!' (An annoying host on an American home-makeover programme called How Tacky is My Trailer, or something along those lines)

'Sure, I'll action that immediately!' (a consultant at a call-centre I phoned last week)

I flatulence in their general direction.

* Kulula does deserve a great big kiss, though, for their cheeky response to our Labour Department's infantile accusation that the company won't hire black cabin crew because they can't swim.

Here's the email I got this morning (or bits of it; sorry it's too wide to see):

Have you heard the daft claim by our super-efficient Department of Labour that we don't hire crew who cannot swim? What a joke!

In fact we hire tons of talented, vibrant and spunky crew members all the time and many of them can't swim, but make sure that before they take to the skies, they know not only how to swim but also how to life-save and handle the unbelievably unlikely event of a water emergency.

Anyway, our crew were so miffed that some people think they can't swim that they had to take a dip in the pool this week to cool off. We thought you may want to meet some of our sexy swimmers.

Vicky Mpho Mildred
Vicky Smith
"the shark"
Mpho Gumede
Mildred Mohale

Siphokazi Yolisa

Siphokazi Nozewu
Yolisa Dumezweni

Robin Cleopatra Pandora
Robin Tindell
Cleopatra Dhlamini
Pandora Ndungane

Oh and if you ever though about joining the kulula cabin crew team, why not send us your CV, with a full length and head shot photo to We're looking for South Africans of all colours. We are pretty fussy though and qualifying criteria include not just a vibrant and bubbly personality but also a height prerequisite of between 1.58m and 1.83m (sorry, you need to be able to reach the overhead luggage compartments), a grade 12 qualification and a minimum of three years of customer service training or experience. The ability to swim is, of course, not a deal breaker!

And don't forget that you can still book a trip to your favourite swimming destination this summer on our brand new website - check it out and if you have a minute, let us know what you think.

See you in the water!

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meggie said...

Great post! What is it with
"How fun".
"My bad".

angel said...

oh i so agree with you juno! loathe the way words are being turned into words as people choose!

bec said...

"Credentialling", as in, the act of issuing a credential. We actually have it in our official corporate style guide. It makes me vomit a little every time I read it...