Mikel Ocean Azure



Classic Gourmet Pizza

Posted by Cobaltsoul on November 4, 2010 at 1:24 PM

I've seen this kind of advertisement a few times but the latest one is a pizza restaurant in the city with a big sign out the front declaring, "Classic Gourmet Pizza".  A different version I saw was "Traditional Gourmet Pizzas" and in the US I once saw (Not kidding here.) "Original Traditional Pizzas". 

I'm pretty sure that "gourmet" pizzas are a recent innovation so there is no way any gourmet pizza recipe is old enough to qualify as a "classic".

I'm pretty sure the same thing applies to a "traditional" gourmet pizza, it can't be traditional if it's a recent innovation.

As for a traditional recipe also being original, well, maybe that would be possible in Italy, if the restaurant in question can prove it's been making it's own, original, pizza recipe for the last one hundred years, long enough to also be a tradition.

Such lazy use of language is common these days and most of us seem not to notice.

Oh, here's one more in a slightly different groove.

A reporter reporting live from the Melbourne Cup (A horse race.) said, "Here at the race course fascinators are the head gear of choice as are brightly coloured floral print dresses."  MMMM, if the ladies are wearing their dresses on their heads I imagine some of the jockey's probably got a bit distracted as they raced past all those naked fillies on the way to the finishing line.

The pizza thing is just an example of how language is used evocatively or connotatively.  The words  "traditional", "gourmet" and "classic" all have good connotations when it comes to pizza, so why not just jam them all into one description, even if it makes no actual sense. 

To my way of thinking if the people in that shop can't write a sensible description of their own product do I really want to eat it?  What other simple tasks are they incapable of completing safely? 

Did you know that not all languages have a past, present and future tense?

In some languages there is only the present tense.  Everything that can be spoken about can only be spoken of as happening in the present.  Imagine the mind map that produces in the people who speak that language.  That which we organise as past, present and future all become "now" and the person sees them self as living in a continuous, eternal, present moment.  Things we think of as having happened in mythological times are for these people things that are happening "now". 

Language constructs reality.

Sloppy use of language constructs, in YOUR head, a sloppy reality.

It once was the case that journalists saw themselves as the guardians of good grammar and accurate language but those days are long gone.  The exact opposite is true today.  The media constantly uses language with deliberate malice and deception.

A news reporter says or writes that ..."The Prime Minister denied there would be any funding cuts for schools."   if you go and research you discover that no-one else was talking about funding for schools until the PM mentioned it and what the PM actually said was, "While I am PM we will maintain the current level of spending on schools, or increase if it funds become available."

You might not have noticed that one little word, "denied", but your subconscious didn't miss it.

If the PM is "denying" something then someone must have accused her of something, therefore the statement about school funding is part of an argument and maybe the PM is lying and maybe funding for schools will be cut and ...............

One little word totally warps the reality.

If you actually listen, really listen, to news broadcasts on the radio, you will discover many, many of those little warping words scattered thru what pretends to be merely "reporting the news". 

You may think my examples are small and don't matter.

The effect of the misuse of language is cumulative. 

One spilling mistake is not a big problem, you still understood my intent.

Huwiver eetz mosh herdar two unnashtan me if the spelling errors accumulate.

The more laziness and inaccuracy is accepted in the way we use language, the less we actually can communicate to each other.  Understanding shrinks as language is misused.

Disciplined and balanced language skills produce a disciplined and balanced set of mental tools.

In a world getting increasingly complex and nuanced, we need, and our kids need, the best set of mental tools it's possible to have.

If you cannot speak clearly and precisely you cannot think clearly and precisely.

So enjoy your classic pizza but don't be fooled into thinking it's also a gourmet experience.  They probably hope that if you are dumb enough to believe you are buying a "classic gourmet" pizza you are also probably dumb enough to pay too much for it.



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Reply Cobaltsoul
6:03 AM on November 7, 2010 
Hi David. My bad spelling was good! Botheration and tarnation to boot. Even when I was in school, and I was an avid bookworm, I detested the majority of texts we were forced to read in English class. When I was in High School, a significant percentage of my male peers were nearly illiterate, mainly because the curriculum did not engage their interest and without interest they had no other motivation to learn, no parents at home disciplining them. There were plenty of decently written novels and biographies which would have engaged those guys AND given the teachers a chance to get the blokes discussing and arguing, reasoning, about themes in the book they could feel excited about. The idea you can get hormone laden guys and socially pre-occupied girls to be interested in writing which is dense, opaque and elitist in perspective (That's most "literature".) is simply stupid. The global perspective is that good grammar is not waning, it's just that it's the education system in the developing "tigers" that now carries the flame for high education standards, maybe too high, but that's a whole other issue. Additionally it's not so much English grammar as Mandarin grammar or Korean grammar that is being maintained. :)
Reply hiker
8:24 AM on November 5, 2010 
Interesting one Mikel. I think there have always been people trying to pull wool over our eyes in the ways you suggest. The beauty of the internet is that there are more people, if anything, attempting to open our eyes to untruths. Like wikipedia. You'll always have the idiots trying to drop untruths into the frame. But they get picked up on quickly. Usually. More people than we maybe realise feel the same as you about stuff being accurate, even if they only care about a very narrow framework of stuff.

I do agree with you about the way the media weights and angles it's words. I've pretty much stopped watching or reading the News from the regular sources, for instance, because 1) It's not the news, it's the BAD news (or as one of my boys calls it, "The Death Show") 2) The way it is twisted in the way you mention, 3) The fact that I, at least, am capable of getting information over load,

Your bad spelling sentence was very readable btw. Which sort of dilutes your point. In fact I've seen a paragraph written with almost all the letters changed to demonstrate that our brains look for patterns in written words which are only partly related to the spelling. However, I agree with your point about the need to teach our kid's good communication skills. And discernment. I do think they are capable of learning both the dumbed down text speak that scares the hell out of educators AND the sort of more grammatically correct stuff that will help them get jobs, write letters, and communicate clearly to a wider audience. Demonstrating that reading can be a joy not a chore is the key imo. And that's only necessary for kids who are coming from homes where the parents don't read.

Discernment will come from wider reading and wider experience. Which unfortunately means that there will probably always be a market for Classic Gourmet Pizza.