Rivkah Writes…

April 30, 2009

Name That Flu!

Filed under: Humor — rivkahwrites @ 10:18 am

If you had to have an exotic form of the flu, which would you choose – the Avian or Swine variety? Personally, I wouldn’t exactly hog all rights to the Swine flu. Especially when you translate the term into other languages. In Yiddish, for example, the word for Swine is chazer – far less refined than the politically correct “swine,” I assure you – more like “pig.” Imagine being told you had the Chazer flu. Now that would unleash a plethora of kibbitzing on the Yiddishe circuit. “Hey, what’s the surprise? Abie mixed with chazerim so he caught Chazer flu!” or “You looked at chazerishe pictures, you putz, what did you expect, a headache?” Avian flu, on the other hand, sounds so much more elegant, don’t you think? Avian… Evian…spring water…purity…oh yes, you’d soon be practically virus free with a flu called Avian…


Anyway, you see where I’m coming from. It’s all about the tantalizing impact of words, their meanings, implications, associations – above all, their power to brand a relatively neutral object or person with the qualities they connote. Swine flu’s a more recent example, but suggestive words are out there every day, driving us to splurge on one brand or another. And what I love about brands is that, very often, they’re an inside joke – ask most people to explain a brand, and the response is a blank stare. Or, as my 18 year old would put it while rolling her eyes “Oh no, here comes the lecture!” Guys – I’m not here to lecture you, believe me. Just to open your eyes to the infinite humor itching to be extracted from everyday naming conventions.


Here’s another example – my favorite actually – (just don’t tell the Rabbi). Gentlemen! Having trouble maintaining your stand-up routine? You need endurance, stamina, vigor – you need Viagra! Looking to rise to the challenge? What better solution than the levitating powers of Levitra! Now there are exceptions to the rule as some of my friends have pointed out. It’s not as though Cialis conjures any evocative imagery. I mean, yes, every time you Ci-alis, hey presto, you Levitra, but surely that would be pushing it. So let’s leave well enough alone.


Moving right along. Car names. Now there are lots of self-explanatory ones out there like the Ford Explorer or Thunderbird – get a good look at either of these cars and the object is clearly to endow the driver with the sense that he or she (usually he – these particular vehicles are marketed to the action hero in all males) actually possesses the adventurousness associated with these brands. My personal favorite, another male marketed brand, is the Chevrolet Impala. One notch above the self-explanatory, understanding the brand requires that you know “impale” is actually a word. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to impale is to “pierce with, or as if, with something pointed.” Suffice it to say the driver of the Impala may indulge in a little Levitra while on the way to Ci-alis.


Well, one can have a little too much of a good thing, so it’s about time I wrap this up. Let me leave you with a couple of parting thoughts. A rose is never just a rose; words are never just words; and branding taps into our identities, our personalities, and our aspirations. Proceed with caution.











  1. Very thought provoking piece. So I finish reading about the male enhancements and Impala, and then see the big 3-D pen you have at the top right as your “logo”…pointing right at me. I had to laugh!

    Comment by RT — April 30, 2009 @ 10:38 am | Reply

  2. Hi RT – laughing always helps!

    Comment by rivkahwrites — April 30, 2009 @ 10:44 am | Reply

  3. I’m thinking of flu names that would do double duty. They need to scare me about the virus and “steer” me away from those bad things I love so much. Here are some flu names that might work for me:

    Ben and Jerry’s (any flavor) Flu

    Cheese Steak with Onions Flu

    Salt and Vinegar Pringle’s Flu

    Hope this helps.

    Comment by Mark MacKay — April 30, 2009 @ 1:28 pm | Reply

    • Whatever helps, Mark!

      Comment by rivkahwrites — April 30, 2009 @ 9:50 pm | Reply

  4. Rivka,

    Can I find you on twitter?

    Comment by Luciana Leguizamon — April 30, 2009 @ 8:14 pm | Reply

    • Luciana – not yet, but I promise to figure out the twitter thing as soon as I can.

      Comment by rivkahwrites — April 30, 2009 @ 9:55 pm | Reply

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