All the Sudden, It's Windows 7

You've probably noticed that Microsoft is advertising Windows 7 very heavily -- posters from this campaign have taken over the Montgomery BART station in downtown San Francisco, where I go on the way to and from work every day. (Click pictures to enlarge.)

"I'm a PC" positions the PC as the computer of the people, and "Windows 7 was my idea" builds on that momentum. (Notice none of them have computers at all -- Windows is computers for non-computer people.) This whole campaign takes sort of 'everyman' approach it takes, which is reflected in the images and, of course, the language.

Which, to my mind, makes it even easier to forgive something like a less/fewer error:

"I told them it should require less steps. Now it requires less steps"

These are supposed to be everyday people, using spoken language -- I'm willing to call this a calculated decision by Microsoft's copywriters. (Even though the guy using 'require' doesn't seem to match with this level of casualness. But whatever.)

The same might go for these examples of hedging, which I find really funny:
"I said to make it effortless. They made it pretty effortless"

"I said, 'nice and simple.' And now? It's nicer. And simpler"

As I've written before, 'pretty' is just about as ambiguous as it gets, allowing readings from 'very effortless' to 'barely effortless'. And both of the above seem to generate a really strong implicature that Windows 7 is not completely nice and simple, and not totally effortless. If it really were totally nice and effortless, why would you not say so?

But the thing that really caught my attention was this Invented Usage:

Now, I'm fairly certain I've heard 'all the sudden' (as opposed to 'all of a sudden') before in spoken language, but it really struck me as odd here. For all the weirdness and informality of the campaign, it's certainly all in standard English.

It's not shown in the picture, but the person represented as the speaker of this quote is a middle-aged black man. I wondered if this was a nod toward African American Vernacular English, but haven't been able to find anything on line to support the idea that this is an AAVE idiom, or that it's associated with any other speech style in particular.

Of course, I did find the usual rants about how 'cringe-worthy' 'all the sudden' is:

Most of my friends had the intuition that this usage was unprofessional and probably hurt the image of the campaign, since it might show sloppiness or lack of consideration. (Not to mention that the crux of the campaign is that people hated windows before, and got so upset that it finally changed... sigh.)

I think either the writer thought this was on the same level of informality as the rest of the campaign, or the writer (and copy editors, graphics people, etc.) didn't know the 'correct' version of the idiom. Either way, this seems like evidence that 'all the sudden' has come farther into the norm than I thought.

1 comment:

Joe said...

I hate these ads. The idea that an operating system actually not working like a piece of crap for once is going to make me feel "drunk with power" seems laughable since even if it works properly, the power is always on the side of the manufacturer of the OS since they develop it without open source code. A PC is not an exclusive reference to a Windows machine either. Every time I see one of these, I want to replace "Windows 7" with "Linux" for then it would actually be true.

"I'm a PC and Linux was my idea."

Related Posts with Thumbnails