sun 12 aug 2007 16:20:55 raamgracht
thoughts incited by a trip to the appie
thoughts upon my return from another much-dreaded trip to the albert heijn supermarket on jodenbreestraat.
i went there because i had to. sometime yesterday i completely ran out of coffee, and i was almost out of food and tobacco. i don't like grocery shopping, or shopping in general. i don't like crowds, and i don't like how they keep moving things around so it takes me longer to find stuff. i don't think the people who design the layout of supermarkets are prioritizing "get this over with quick".
today i stood looking at the cheese wall for about ten minutes because the hüttenkäse (cottage cheese) was missing. i looked all over the place for the empty slot that would be labeled "hüttenkäse" but i couldn't find it. there was no explanatory sign saying "beste mensen, sorry maar wij verkoop geen 'hüttenkäse' meer".
on a positive note, "lu" has come out with a new type of cracker that seems to really be a proper cracker -- and they even call it what it is. it's the "nieuw lu mini cracker".
which got me thinking.
i wish i knew more about why we're not allowed to call things what they are. in the albert heijn i can't find anything called "soap" (zeep). i find beauty bar, cream bar, etc, but no soap. sometimes i can find a thing called "shampoo", but then that word "shampoo" is smallest and last on the package. same thing with shaving cream and toothpaste and a lot of hygiene products. in fact, last time i worked in advertising, we couldn't even call it "hygiene", we were sposed to call it the "health and beauty aisle" or "haba".
it's as if we are trying to hide what things are when we name them.
this is not the case with ham. ham may be called "beenham" or "achterham" but it's still named "ham". but maybe next year ham will be renamed. maybe they'll call it "yum slices".
it's also true with much of speech, that people are very reluctant to come out and say what they really mean. some people even get paid a lot of money to dream up ways of saying something so it sounds like they're saying something else. (actually i get paid for that too sometimes, that's how i know).
i'm also a little confused by how some ordinary english words have changed their popular meaning, to such an extent that two people using the same word may now misunderstand each other.
the word "random" no longer just means random, it now has a connotation of "odd" or "surprising". and nobody told me.
and the word "urban" no longer just means "of the city", it has become a big-media euphemism for "pertaining to black people and hiphop".
so um what is up with that?
mind you i'm not averse to slang. it's okay with me if you say "fa shizzle ma nizzle" and i do or don't know what the fuck you mean. but when you start hijacking common words from the vocabulary and giving them alternate meanings, then i begin to think you're just hiding from me.
again, language can be used as a means of communion, or as a means of exclusion. the former is social, the latter is antisocial.
it reminds me of the time i was in line for the money machine, behind a woman wearing a jacket with the big words "FUCK YOU" on it. i never bothered to find out what it might say on the front of her jacket. at least she was being clear.