Perhaps I haven’t yet mentioned this yet on the blog, but long ago and far away, I was a spelling champ. While I doubt I could win one today, given the kind of words contestants have faced lately (stromuhr? Really?), I’m still intolerant of poor and lazy spelling – which intolerance has carried on, I’m proud to say, to my children, who have learned that if they want to continue using Facebook they must be “friends” with me, and thus may not litter their Facebook discourse with lazy shorthand spellings.
Which leads me to the copy of Town & Country I was perusing at my surgeon’s office today: Besides the usual array of jewelry ads (did you know that the latest is slices of precious stones? Neither did I), Social Register galas and furniture for palaces, I encountered an article on perfumes from which I snapped this photo:
Okay, first there’s Absinth. I cannot for the life of me figure out why the normally-spelled word “absinthe” had to be truncated to create this perfume name. When I go to Google, of course it says “Did you mean: absinthe“? Well, of course – because that’s the correct spelling. I just wish I could get inside the minds of the geniuses who came up with it, or at least have a recording of the brainstorming session and the eureka moment. I can imagine it went something like “Well, absinthe has such a mystique about it but there is that illegal drug aspect . . . so if we take off the ‘e’ maybe that won’t come through so strongly?” No, I didn’t think so either.
Look, the bottom line is that I don’t like meaningless misspellings. I just drove home behind a Kia Sorento this afternoon, and that bastardization baffles me every time I see it. Kia kept the spelling of Sedona normal – why couldn’t they leave well enough alone with Sorrento?
Finally, I simply have to say something about Essence of IX. And as usual, there’s a buildup: My mother didn’t learn Roman numerals. Many of my Sundays growing up were spent providing my mother with the answers to Roman numeral clues for the New York Times crossword puzzle. But my kids haven’t learned Roman numerals either. Maybe I just had the luck to live through the Golden Age of Roman numerals in the late 60s and early 70s.
But I know my mom and my kids aren’t alone: On a train ride in Paris several years ago, we heard an American woman talking about getting back to the Hotel George V – only she pronounced it “George Vee.” We only barely maintained our composure. So I am concerned when I see a product called “Essence of IX” – because I am just not sure that the purchasing public these days is educated in Roman numerals sufficient to ask for Essence of Nine rather than Essence of Icks.