Sunday, May 11, 2008

Another Stupid Thing

I've just heard it again -- some commercial selling something useless gets all excited about a "free gift" I'll get if I buy their silver electroplated, enamel embossed, commemorative toilet paper roll holder right now. Aside from the obvious annoying factors, let's look at that phrase. "Free Gift" opposed to, say, a gift I buy? Let's check the old reliable Merriam-Webster online dictionary.

Middle English, from Old Norse, something given, talent; akin to Old English giefan to give
12th century
1 : a notable capacity, talent, or endowment
: something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation
: the act, right, or power of giving

Note that phrase "without compensation". That means a gift is only a gift if no compensation is expected or remitted -- in other words, a gift is automatically free.

Oxymoron. Stupid commercial writer not paying the slightest attention to the words and just wants to get that word "free" in somewhere, or else (and this is scary to me) worried that some potential customer doesn't understand what "gift" means. I blame the commercial writer for even thinking "free gift" makes sense and causing the confusion in the first place.

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