Corporate etymologies: trademarked lexis


“The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”
–James D. Nicoll
If you haven’t come across the above quotation before, you may well have seen it in its redacted meme form. But the list of previous convictions for Old Mother Tongue also includes copyright fraud. In the UK, we may have trouble trying to hoover up a piece of lego that is stuck to the floor with sellotape but in saying so, we are providing free advertising for products whose names have been pilfered by the English language. In the USA, the language is much more repentant and promises reform at almost every opportunity. Wonderful internet nerd haven I09 recently ran this article “15 [sic] common English Words That You Probably Didn’t Know Were Still Trademarked” which features fourteen such words, most of them reflecting the capitalist ideals of corporate AmE.
The ensuing discussion in the comments section quickly devolves into a ‘whose English is best?’ bunfight but it’s all in good fun.