Refreshe at the Shoppe

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Libby and I were driving down Market Street in West Philadelphia the other day and we passed a state liquor store, one of the more rudimentary kind without the bells and whistles, not a liquor superstore. The sign on the store said Wine and Spirits Shoppe and this place looked so unlike a shoppe that we both laughed.

Then the other night I was with Stella who wanted a slice of pizza and only after we sat down did I notice the label on our grocery store water bottles — Refreshe.

The water is ozonated something I had to look up. Since when are we ozonating our water? It still tasted like water and we didn’t feel as if our systems had been cleansed of all evils but we were indeed refreshed.

I have to think that American English is such a flexible animal that before long (if not already) these words will make it into Webster’s. Shoppe is actually a cutesy kind of word that’s been around for quite a while. But refreshe, now that’s new (to me at least).

In both cases, it’s interesting that the words (shop and refresh) have been decorated with a final (silent) e to create a new word-avatar. The avatar word has the affect of something different than the root word and offers the connotation of something old world, something more stylish, quaint or tres chic than the simple non-decorated word connotes. Word decoration has been with us for a while — especially evident in people’s naming of their children. Many are the spellings of Brittany, Brittny, Britney, Brittne, and Ashley, Ashlee and all the rest. These from-the-ground-up changes to language are really the way languages flex as “the people speak” and the codifiers of the code respond and let in what they let in.

Corporate brand naming — another way that words enter the language — has also been around for a while and of course we all reach for a kleenex when we sneeze and we make xerox copies of our documents no matter what copier we’re using. I doubt whether Refreshe will make it into the pantheon of brand names that transcend the brand. But as a decorated word, refreshe is a surprising newcomer and bears following. That is all.

Note: this summertime post is brought to you by the artblog anthropology division, ever alert to our changing linguistic landscape.

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