Thursday, October 1, 2009

IMO, et al

Language has been changing since some caveman decided it was easier to grunt than gesture. Words that were innocuous develop less-innocent meanings (I'm looking at you here, "gay"), words that don't exist get invented--radar--and words that were common disappear.

Now, thanks to the Internet, or maybe cell phones, or maybe just "kids, get off my lawn!" words that aren't words at all become words. Wisconsin recently discovered that this can be a problem.

The folks at the Wisconsin Tourism Federation, a 30-year-old tourism lobbying coalition based in Sun Prairie, couldn't possibly have predicted how the Internet would change the lingo.

While its abbreviation, WTF, was fairly innocuous a few decades ago, it means something entirely different these days.

That meaning - a phrase that can't be printed in a family newspaper, even though kids all over the country are texting it on a regular basis - isn't what anyone in tourism wants potential visitors to associate with Wisconsin.
Yeah, Wisconsin has never made me think "WTF?" either, except maybe the Mars Cheese Castle.

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