Blogging / Humour / Life / Writing

When Did Vowels Stop Being Cool?

As I was perusing my iTunes the other day, I noticed a bit of a disturbing trend.

…No, I am not referring to my extensive collection of Phil Collins albums. There is nothing weird nor disturbing about loving an 80’s singer/songwriter with the voice of an angel.

vowel2

What I’m actually talking about is the alarming number of bands who are dropping vowels from their names like one of Clooney’s girlfriends post awards season.

I mean...don't worry Stacy .I'm sure it'll be different this time around!

Don’t worry Stacy. I’m sure he’ll change for you.

MDNASeriously:

MGMT

CVRCHES

HRVRD

MSTRKRFT

Even Madonna has started going by “MDNA” recently.

14f5x

At first I assumed that vowels were just another casualty in the endless pursuit of the ultimate ironic band name (“Dale Earnhardt Jr.Jr.” and “Com Truise” anyone?);but after a little research, I discovered this trend was actually part of a wider phenomenon known as “disemvowelling”.

“Disemvowelling” (besides just being a really great pun) is the art of rewriting a piece of alphabetic text with all of the vowel letters removed. According to Wikipedia, It was first developed in 2002 as a way to limit unwanted comments on internet sites. The technique would strip the vowels from offensive comments, rendering them harder to read and sending a message about appropriate conduct. Disemvowelling later went on to become a common feature of SMS text language.

vowel7

Disemvowelling has been experiencing a bit of a heyday as of late with the resurgence of minimalist branding- a form of advertising where designers strip away all the fluff and keep the only important things.

Starbucks Logo

vowel4

Sorry for making you all crave nutella.

If you live in an urban centre, I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of this lately. I feel like every time I turn around there’s a new restaurant in Toronto called “MRKT” something or other which
seats about 5 people and is furnished with exposed lightbulbs and metal stools.

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But it’s not just the bougie places- even the low brow brands are getting involved:

vowel3

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I have mixed feelings about all of this. On the one hand, I find it sort of gimmicky and annoying. It makes your band/restaurant/product something I never want to say out loud for fear of messing it up- like all that fancy sh*t on restaurant menus.

vowel13

Part of me also sees it as yet another erosion of the English language. Is it really necessary to sacrifice spelling and grammar at the expense of making an impact? .

Plus, all of this has the potential of putting Vanna out of a job, and quite frankly, I think we should all be a little more concerned about that.

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I was all set to write an entire post hating-on this, until I discussed it with a musician friend of mine who suggested that this trend makes sense, given that the English language itself is inherently limiting. There are a finite number of words, and ways you can say them. Creative types understand this innately, and try to supplement what can’t be said through music, art and other mediums. Creating new words or ideas by dropping vowels, adding numbers, or spelling things uniquely is just another way to stretch the boundaries of language to do something meaningful.

It’s a good theory in principle- but at the same time, I have a hard time believing that’s what N’SYNC had in mind:

vowel1

Who knows though. They were the voice of a generation.

Question of the Day: Disemvowelling: Yay or Nay?

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27 thoughts on “When Did Vowels Stop Being Cool?

  1. 200 years ago, they were probably getting their wigs in a knot over those blasted contractions “don’t” and “we’ll.” Language evolves and changes. As for this trend, I don’t see it catching on beyond marketing and text messages. Oh wait, that’s everything!

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    • hahaha you’re so right- contractions probably were scandalous back in the day. I can just see the heated arguments over whether to accept the word “Shan’t”

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  2. I can understand the idea behind creative expression and how language doesn’t fully envelop everything one might want to say. But at the same time…when you leave vowels out of words, that just makes people frustrated and are not going to understand you better. There is an inherent understanding and emotion that can be expressed through music and art, while language is a specific form, and I don’t think I’d find the hidden expression through disemvowelling. :/

    Then again, I am half creative, half language nut, so what have you. :P

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    • I think that’s a good point- maybe you’re gaining a creative element, but losing the beauty of language. A trade-off if you will. I think it’s probably just a fad in the end anyway

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  3. Nay nay nay! It seems like I meet so few people who have a real grasp on the English language (ie using “you’re” and “your” correctly) that the last thing we need to be doing is making it easier for them to screw it up. Maybe that’s harsh… hmmm… I don’t know, I just don’t like it.

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  4. I say nah! It’s just a waste of time. It really has no benefit or point at all.
    Oh and follow my blog! It’s new and I’m really excited to get it started its mostly going to be creative writing. It will be very interesting I promise! It’s called the confessions of me

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  5. Pingback: At the end of the day …. Seniors texting code! | It Is What It Is

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