I don’t expect much from television stations, Lord knows. But Scripps Interactive seems to fancy themselves something of an owner of educational programming (Food Network, Travel Channel, etc.), not that horrible brain-rotting stuff that encourages coarse behavior and lack of socialization that you hear about. Still, even educational programming can be cut a bit of slack, and I don’t demand detailed knowledge of fiddly arcana.
But come on, DIY network, this new ad is too much. The ad I refer to is for “Building Alaska” (there was a law passed recently that at least 20% of new reality shows have to be set in Alaska, I believe). It features someone defining words one might hear on a building site in Alaska for the benefit of residents of the lower 48 (and I presume Hawaii – I don’t know why Alaskans always ignore that state). Some of the words aren’t really regional Alaskanisms, but we’ll let that pass. What bothers me is when the guy gets to the word “snoozle”, which, hell, might be only used in Alaska for all I know. Anyway, he points out that it is both a noun and a verb – to be precise it can mean either “something to poke with” or “a type of movement”.
Now, my readers are no doubt all shouting “Hah! What a maroon! Those are both nouns, the way he said it! Or maybe that second one is an adverb! I’m not really sure!”. But the fellow was speaking extemporaneously (or pretending to), and anyway, he actually meant verb for the second, because the example he gave was “snoozle on over there”. No, the real problem is with the knucklehead who wrote the copy for the words that are printed under him while he talks. When he says “Any kind of poking device”, the text reads “Snoozle = (n.) To poke” – identifying a verb form that the guy didn’t even mention as a noun. Then, when he says “type of movement”, the text reads “Snoozle = (v.) Movement or go to fetch” – which, sheesh, I don’t know, just throws in a noun and some random clause and calls it a verb.
This is all part and parcel with people mis-identifying “passive voice” of course – the vague notion that the function of a word has something to do with its grammatical definition, so if something is vaguely related to motion, it must be a verb or whatever. But you know, the person responsible for that copy is like, a writer.