“Nothing acts faster than Anadin, so all you guys must, from now on, take nothing.” Thus spoke my English teacher many, many years ago, setting me on my path to total and unforgiving cynicism, revealing to me for the first time that the English language and the penis mightier than the sword. Er, I mean, the pen is mightier than the sword.
I was looking at the Guardian website this morning and I noticed a position being advertised that I thought I’d take a closer look at. The first sentence, when clicking the link to apply, was:
“If you are registered, please log in and we will prefill this form for you.” Prefill? What? What on earth is a bloody prefill? A dentist rubbing his hands together with glee at the thought of a huge fee for inflicting as much pain on you as he can? A builder putting up a wall without mortar?
What is this current damn fixation with the prefix (oops) ‘pre’? It’s everywhere, turning perfectly reasonable English into utterly moronic crap! I would have thought that for one of our major quality newspapers, instead of stating “please log in and we will prefill this form for you”, something along the lines of “please log in and your details will be automatically filled in” would have done just fine.
It is the rip-off Britain merchants who have embraced this particular prefix with a vengeance. They have nonsensically slapped it in front of the word ‘order’ so that the moment an overpriced plastic games console, a war or football game DVD worth no more than a £1 (yet strangely priced at £50 or more), a totally over-specified phone, or a pair of designer trainers made in a Vietnamese sweat-shop, is announced as being ‘on the way’, large shelf-talkers, posters, advertisements and emails begin bombarding us to ‘pre-order’.
Oh, do come off it, you blithering idiots. There is absolutely no such thing as pre-order! You either order something or you don’t order something! Just be honest and say “order now”, or perhaps be brave enough to say “order now so we can get some of the money back we laid out safe in the knowledge that we’ve trapped you into paying for our over-priced crap in advance knowing full-well that you will receive it at the same time as people who buy it on launch day, oh, and incidentally, the price will be reduced three weeks after it’s launched and no you’re not getting any of it back”.
And then there’s ‘pre-book’. What? How can you pre-book? Either you book or you don’t book. If it’s a concert ticket, you’ll still get charged an unethical, entirely dishonest and translucent booking fee by bastardly dishonest and profiteering ticketing agencies no matter what you do.
Pre-book! Whoever thought of this stupid and meaningless statement needs to retake their English exams. In grammatically-correct English, ‘pre-book’ translates as ‘book before you book’, which is utter horseshit. Oh, and there’s also now ‘pre-drinks’ (that’s the art of getting pissed before you go out binge-drinking and regurgitating pizza and chips all over the pavement).
You’ll have passed by many cash converting shops – you know, the ones who pay you £40 for a Notebook PC in the grim hope they can sell it for £160. Well, all their acquired goods are now either ‘pre-owned’ or ‘pre-loved’. Pre-loved? Do me a favour. What utter and absolute nonsense is that? I defy any of these jerks to define what ‘pre-loved’ actually means. Is it street slang for putting on a contraceptive so you can make ‘pre-love’ to someone in case you father a child to that someone you find out you don’t actually love? Or does it infer licking your naked partner in places that can’t be mentioned before the nine-o’clock watershed?
Well I’ve got bad news for them all. Some very bad news in fact. These goods are neither ‘pre-owned’ nor ‘pre-loved’; they are just plain old second-hand or used. End of. Or stolen, in the case of those shops located in the more dubious city suburbs.
I’ve just ‘pre-shitted’ (broken wind) prior to ‘pre-driving’ (picking up my car keys from the table) and ‘pre-shopping’ (putting my wallet in my pocket) in order to ‘pre-eat’ (buying food).
Language is being wrecked. Take ‘solutions’. Defined in the Celebrity Big Brother Handbook of Diffikult Wurds to Spel as “A homogeneous mixture composed of only one phase”. So, to quote Lord Sir Mr Sugar, a solution could really be a ‘one-trick pony’. So why are so many companies the providers of ‘solutions’? Are they themselves one-trick ponies?
A company in Leeds provides ‘total panel solutions’, whatever they are. I picked up on the internet a legal practice that was busy ‘creating family law solutions for you’. If you get in your car and drive, you are bound to see ‘furniture solutions’, ‘kitchen solutions’, ’employment solutions’, ‘building and maintenance solutions’. I have also come across ‘ski solutions’, ‘refuse solutions’, ‘holiday solutions’ and of course, no set of solutions would be complete without ‘financial solutions’ – all barkingly uncreative.
What is wrong with all these people? Yes, I appreciate they are not copywriters and that they are possibly professionals in their own respective fields and more than likely very good at what they do. But why don’t they take a little advice when devising a strap line?
And I’ll pre-end with ‘new and improved’. Now even Lord Winston, or probably even Common as Shit Spice, would agree that it can’t be an improved-upon item if it’s new. New means never been around previously, so how could it be improved if it’s new?
If I come across many more of these clowns they won’t stay pre-punched for long!