I love grammar! Now that’s a statement you don’t often hear. One of my favorite things in high school English class was diagramming a sentence. For those of you under 35, ask your parents what sentence diagramming is. I loved the way it demonstrated sentence structure and that every word had its own special place for a specific meaning.
Those little words a, an, and the were called articles when I was in school. Then for a time while I was teaching elementary school, they were called determiners. Now evidently the tide has turned back to article, but in this case they are being washed asea.
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal’s “An Article of Faith for Marketers: Place No Faith in Articles” explained that marketers are dropping articles in order to expand the image of a brand, keeping it from being simply a small object. Using “Kindle,” “Nook,” “MAC,” and “Blackberry” without a preceding the garbs the items with more splendor than being relegated to such as “the Nook” or “the Kindle.”
I may have succumbed, for I never say “the Nook.” On the other hand, I most often use the possessive: “I’ll read it on my Nook.” Saying, “Do you know where Nook is?” makes it a bit more personal than I want my relationship with an e-reader to be.
Their plan reminds me of brands that have become the label for the general item, as in “Please hand me a Kleenex,” even when it’s Puffs, or “Do you want a Coke?” (especially in the South) when referring to all soft drinks. I call any ibuprofen Advil, for it’s easier to say, but I still buy the generic.
Commercials are known to flout grammar rules with impunity. “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should” may have been poor grammar, but many of us remember it even though it was not used after 1972. The Apple commercial asking people to “Think different” was an affront to all grammarians, but evidently its approval by Steve Jobs made it acceptable.
So what’s your take on this? Do you feel manipulated with the dropping of the article with certain brand names?
Do you use a brand name to represent the entire genre of an item?