Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ford Invents a Time Machine?

Cunning Linguists

[I take a break from the decidedly visual, aesthetic assessments of these pages to discuss a glitch of language usage within Ford Motor Company's recent aspirational tagline...] 

Auto makers love slogans, thematic concepts often utilized as much to inspire customers as they are to play the role of (current season) vision statements that serve as directives for their dealers. They are typically 'launched' at the dealer conferences.

What You Meant to Say

The problem lies in the confusing usage rules that draw a very fine distinction between FURTHER and FARTHER. While there are subtle differences found on online reference sources, sometimes parsing (note) further distinctions between Brit. and U.S. usage, I decided to go to the oldest and most respected American resource, every college English major's friend, 'The Elements of Style,' originally written by Cornell University English professor William Strunk, Jr., in 1918, and later famously revised and republished in 1959 with E.B. White.

Therein it is explained that: 
"...there is a distinction worth observing: farther serves best as a distance word, further as a time or quantity word."
Or in college shorthand: "Farther is distance, further is time."

Clearly in this instance, a company that make vehicles that "take you places," 
intended it's usage to mean DISTANCE. FURTHERmore, the slogan starts with the word GO, which implies movement. Clearly, or maybe not so clearly, FORD should have used the slogan: 

Unless Ford is designing a time machine!?

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