Quickly adopted by politicians and advertisers.
A little old lady was holding up my line at the grocery store. She was trying to return a carton of ice cream.
“It says New & Improved but it tastes the same.” She said, peevishly. “It costs more but there’s less ice cream!”
The checker didn’t understand the problem and the customer was frustrated.
“Perhaps I can be of assistance.” I said, smoothly.
“The carton is what’s new.” I pointed to the words New & Improved printed in a big star on the package. “It’s got a star on it now.” I turned the carton over “And the bottom is inverted a full inch. Sure, you don’t get as much ice cream, but it DOES make it easier to stack. That’s the improvement.”
“But…”the old lady looked bewildered, “that’s dishonest!”
“No,” I smiled gently, “That’s Euphemish.”
Euphemish noun \’yü-fə-mish\
a: A language, or dialect, featuring the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant.
Synonyms: Sugarcoat, spin, mislead, lie
Origin: from the Greek, euphēmos auspicious, sounding good.
Preowned vehicles, sanitation and domestic engineers, vertically challenged – Euphemish words and phrases have already worked their way into our everyday usage. But few scholars, like myself, have undertaken formal study of the language.
Here, for the beginning student, are a few commonly used Euphemish phrases with their English translations:
- New and Improved Translation: One unimportant feature is NEW. The seller hopes his cash flow will soon be IMPROVED.
See example above.
- To serve you better Translation: To save us money.
Usually accompanies the announcement of something you won’t like, and about which you have no choice. For example:
- Electric hand dryers instead of paper towels
- Computerized phone operators instead of real people
- Mandatory online anything – banking, bill paying, tax filing
- Limited time offer Translation: Offer ends when all gullible people run out of money, or when the sun turns cold, whichever comes first.
Designed to create a sense of urgency totally out of proportion to the banality of the product being offered.
The Special offer variation promises a reduced price if the purchaser acts in the next 30 minutes, or is one of the first 200 callers. The caller right before you was always the last person to qualify. Known as the Yeti of the advertising world, the Special Offer is often described, but there have been no confirmed sightings.
- Creating jobs Translation: Taking money from people who have jobs, to give to people who don’t, to complete tasks that nobody wants done.
Popular with those who subscribe to the Rumpelstiltskin Theory of Economics.
- Rate change Translation: It’s gonna cost more.
The word “change” when applied to rate, price, cost, etc. ALWAYS means an increase. If the price were actually going down, that would be trumpeted clearly and repeatedly. In English.
- This is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you Translation: This is going to hurt you. I’ll be fine.
Very popular with parents and politicians.
Some are born with an ear for the language. These people usually gravitate toward careers in advertising, sales, packaging, and public office. Natural ability, however, is not a requirement – Euphemish can be learned.
To that end, I am proud to announce the release of my just-completed Euphemish/English language guide by Peg-Co. Advance copies may be reserved at a low, low introductory price. For a limited time.
I was just talking about this last night! I refuse to buy Breyers Ice Cream anymore for that very reason. They’ve done this TWICE in the last few years. Did I miss the run where they advertised NEW PACKAGING! PAY THE SAME PRICE AND GET LESS! I don’t think so. Until I get my half gallon back, my bottom line is going without Mint Chocolate Chip.
Those days are gone. Our bottom lines (and our bottoms) will no doubt be better for the loss, but I don’t think I can live without Moose Tracks!
Don’t forget “New Price” as it applies to houses that have been on the market for months and months, which translates to “okay, we’re desperate and we’ve finally dropped our overinflated asking price – won’t someone PLEASE make us an offer before that roof leak gets any worse?”
Well, it technically is a new price. Not EXACTLY a lie, just….Euphemish!
I have learned that Environmentally Friendly hotels do not replace used towels during your stay, they just hang them up for you.
After you threw them on the floor with all the hair and toe-scum??? We all do what we must to save the planet.
One of my favorites is related to Drive-Thru windows – “For the safety of our customers, walk-up orders not accepted”… or something to that effect. Safety-Schmafety!!! The real translation is: the fast food joint doesn’t want people begging for food or pan-handling for the nickel that McDonald’s has returned to you after you’ve purchased lunch!! And they certainly want to avoid any kind of potential lawsuit from the walk-up person who is run over by a hungry/peeved/distracted Drive-Thru customer who may be talking on their cell phone at the same time as ordering and paying for a large Coke with light ice (thought you’d appreciate that, Peg!!).
Don’t know anyone who would be so insensitive as to talk on their cell phones at the same time they are ordering a beverage, with or without ice. In fact, I don’t think I know anyone who can walk and chew gum at the same time! I like to surround myself with dullards so I look more clever by comparison. Present company excluded, of course.
Ya know your post today on “familiarity breeds contempt”? Could that apply to your comments directed towards me??? 🙂
Never, ever, ever!
Working for a very large manufacture of high quality cereals and snacks, I am very familiar with this concept. When you raise the sticker price of a product people are outraged. Letters are written, complaints lodged with management and so on. The truth is the cost of raw materials, manufacturing, shipping, and labor, are always on the rise. Sometimes smaller pack size is a very effective way of keeping a company profitable. That after all is the only reason a company is in business. To make a profit. That being said do you know where I can purchase a “Gently Used” goat.
Thank you, Adam Smith. It’s not the rising price, it’s the perceived trickery in hiding it. Dimpled bottoms are cute on babies; not on bottles of wine!
When I encounter such deliberate attempts to mislead, I like to shake my fist in the air and holler “curse you, Chase boys!”, referring to our packaging-major nephews as symbols of this evil practice. It really helps to vent some spleen, although I get some “looks” when I do this in the grocery aisle. (Good thing that half of the family never reads my blog, eh?)
Hmmmm…. a large manufacturer of high-quality snacks and cereals…. could that be General Mills?!?
How about the advertising gimmicks with “reduced fat”, “light” and “lite” on tasy caloric foods? A royal euphemish indeed!
PS Your blogs are funny, clever and insightful. Keep ’em coming Peg-O-Leg!
Too true! How about “fat free” on candies like jelly beans? Of course it’s fat free. It’s probably free of lots of stuff – chicken, piano wire, Chanel #5. The implication is that it’s healthy. Just don’t think about the sugar.
ps Thanks for stopping by, Becky, and for the kind words!
I recently saw a label that read: ‘made with real ingredients’ . . .as opposed to ‘artificial ingredients’? Who knows?
What’s sad is that has to be specified.
WHAT?! No piano wire in my jelly beans this year?! Next thing you’ll tell me is there is no chicken in my Chick-O-Stick.
I hope you’re sitting down….
The absolute maestros in this field are/were Ron Popeil who just drips with pitch chicanery and the late Billy Mays who simply jammed it down your throat one decibel at a time. “But wait there’s more…”.
Pitch chicanery rolls off the tongue nicely. Until I saw his name in an obituary, I thought it was Billy ‘Mazing as in, well, you know.
“Pitch chicanery” – a nice turn of phrase. I might include Tropicana Orange Juice as another “reduced” package, not price. However, as Pavlov’s dogs have been trained, so have I…
Just got back from the grocery store. You can’t compare prices without a calculator because the actual weights are all different now on stuff that used to be standard from brand to brand – coffee, ice cream, cheese…
In the UK, one of my favourite Estate agents eumpemish phrases is:
ideal for DIY enthusiast’ which, of course, means derelict. Even more extreme though, was the description of a property in Italy, described as ‘camapable’ which meant derelict and contains a dead sheep . . . .
Misleading or not, I’m just in awe that Italians have a word for “derelict and contains a dead sheep”. You wouldn’t think it would come up often enough to merit its own word. What a comprehensive language!
I’m afraid senility ( a Tuscan red senility, this time…) allowed me to write the word incorrectly: it should have read ‘campable’
However I have realised that the problem (New Language, not senility) is worsening: today I was offered; “All this free! only $9.95 per month”
I’m not sure in what sense $9.95 per month can equate to free . . . . any ideas
One must always consult the extremely tiny footnotes when considering offers that involve lots of 9s and exclamation points.
Finally got around to reading this blog. It was great but you need to stay focused and not curse your nephews. Poor boys are just trying to make a living! Chris is in medical so you won’t have to be concerned with medical packaging until your old age.MKC
I’ll introduce my physician friends to the “curse you, Chase boys!” mantra.
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