Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Potato farmers fight "couch potato" term

British potato farmers say the term "couch potato" is reinforcing negative stereotypes about the tuber that are unfounded. It's asking the OED to remove the word, which was added (as American slang) in 1993.
John Simpson, the editor of the dictionary, ... said: "When people blame words they are actually blaming the society that uses them. Dictionaries just reflect the words that society uses. We monitor words in the language and what's out there. Our dictionaries describe - not prescribe."

He said words were never taken out of the full-length dictionary, but that little-used words could be removed from the smaller dictionaries to make way for more up-to-date ones.

"I sympathise with them. It's not much fun being called Simpson after the birth of Bart and Homer," he said.

"However, couch potato will stay. We do not leave out words. Once a word is included in the big dictionary, it stays there.
The British Potato Council has a solution prepared: Use the term "couch slouch" instead.

Good luck.


At 4:32 PM, June 21, 2005, Blogger Bill said...

What do they think about "the Irish seven-course meal"?

At 8:22 PM, June 22, 2005, Blogger Doug said...

"Couch zucchini" just never could get past the focus groups.

At 3:59 PM, June 23, 2005, Blogger Nicole said...

Bill, is that six beers and a potato? I'd never heard of it before.

At 6:34 PM, June 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This smacks of the sort of pseudo-outrage that groups sometimes use to call attention to themselves, without any real hope of changing the language. For example, PETA a few years ago tried to get the town of Fishkill, N.Y., to change its name.

At 6:43 PM, June 23, 2005, Blogger Nicole said...

It's so reactionary and laughable. (Of all the things to focus attention on.)

And when I think of a couch potato, I certainly don't think of potatoes. Potato chips? Maybe. But potatoes? Never.


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