Give artisanal and find your happy

I saw a van today with ‘Delivering Fresh’ on the side and came very close to asking the driver if I could see his fresh – the fresh in the back of his van. But I decided, rightly or wrongly, that he wouldn’t appreciate a linguistic argument in a blizzard when all he was doing was unloading baguettes.

Adjectives are adjectives, not nouns. But copywriters (aka failed journalists / novelists) appear determined to vandalise our language and force poor, innocent adjectives to pretend to be nouns, just so they can feel clever.

Find your happy (Rightmove)

Helping you find healthy (BUPA)

Where amazing happens (NBA)

Give artisanal (Oakland Museum – good grief)

111 years of extraordinary (Bergdorfs – I used to like that store)

Unlock your more (Fiat – translation error?)

Committed to great since ‘78 (Ben & Jerry’s – almost cheeky enough to get away with it)

Where better happens (Sears)

BBC Director of Better – Anna Rampton

Of course, linguists, being linguists, have a term for this adjective-to-noun heresy (three terms actually: ‘change of usage’, ‘zero derivation’, and ‘conversion’) and in rhetoric, it’s called ‘antimeria’.

Koestler called such effects ‘bisociative’. Puns and metaphors are bisociative – involving a collision, a fusion, of two things which don’t fit.

The famously bisociative Duck Rabbit

And it has to be said that Shakespeare was extremely partial to a bisociative conversion, writing such lines as:

‘In the dark backward and abysm of time’

Here, the adjective ‘backward’ obviously becomes a noun. But I can’t exactly imagine Shakespeare writing:

Find your backward! Sign up for!

No. He was too conscious of his credible.

How advertisers trick us by turning adjectives into nouns