Grab the granny cart, it’s time for grocery shopping! Not wanting to admit I’m looking for a Granny Cart, I google “luggage cart with big wheels.” Because, you know, big wheels are more manly. A granny cart that is like a off road vehicle, something big to haul my dirt and rocks around. And crates of rockets. And jugs of missile fuel.
Google must have not wanted to embarrass me, because some of the results didn’t use the term “Granny cart” In fact, Google cleverly suggested a cart from Target with big wheels.
The big-wheeled cart on Target was named “Urban metal cart.” WTF. I may be averse to the term Granny Cart, but “Urban metal cart?” You’ve got to be kidding me. Is this thing only for metrosexuals? I know they are trying to reach out to the young city crowd–not only with the word “urban” but also “metal.” Why not just call it Urban Stainless Steel Cart? Or Urban Carbonite Cart. Clearly, Target is using positive euphemisms to reframe what we think of the Granny Cart. That’s cool. Thank you Target for the laugh. Now enjoy this webcomic:
About ass versus arse
Among the 20+ comments on reddit about this webcomic, there were a few about which came first arse or ass:
Arse is a euphemism for ass? Pretty sure it’s the other way round.
Depends where you live! In the USA, arse is pretty much universally considered less offensive.
I meant historically, though. Didn’t “arse” always signify backside and “ass” (i.e. “donkey”) is the American euphemism?
Weirdly, I just read a bit about this! In Metaphor and Metonymy: A Diachronic Approach, by Kathryn Allan, on page 151, it talks about “the process of sound change that accounts for the confusion between the British forms [arse and ass].”
The reasons which account for the substitution of ass with donkey are both phonetic and semantic. By 1600 the /r/ in syllable final position, when followed by another consonant, stopped being pronounced with the subsequent lengthening of the previous vowel (see Dobson 1968: 724ff). Thus, arse came to be pronounced with a long a. By the end of the 17th century there was also a lengthening of short a followed by the voiceless alveolar fricative, which made ass homophone of arse. Fairman refers to the process (1994: 31-34) and dates the avoidance strategies between the years 1760-1730.
Anyway, it goes on. This is just one theory of course, but pretty interesting, I think. Either way, it is also true that in the U.S. we don’t consider “arse” very offensive. Personally I find it to be a pretty funny sounding word. And it sounds like, at least according to this book I just referenced, that “ass” didn’t originate in America.
About the ending
I was trying to strike a delicate balance with the ending of the webcomic. When I realized Target was using a euphemism, that totally sounded like euthanasia, which was a good fit for the granny in the comic. Technically euthanasism is not a word, but it makes the pun much better to put “ism” at the end to match euphemism.
The original ending of the strip said, “Euphemisms, not euthanasisms” which just struck me as too political. The grandma merely stated it with the other guy looking on.
I enjoy webcomics that are more positive and happy, like Invisible Bread. I didn’t want to make this a political stance. So I made the two high-five each other which is always a fun (and cheesy) thing to do.
Do you use a Granny Cart?
— Matt Maldre (@spudart) October 22, 2013
Regular guy: Target calls this an "Urban Metal Cart?"
Grandma: Target is utilizing a euphemism.
Grandma: A generally innocuous expression in place of one that may be found offensive or suggest something unpleasant.*
Grandma: Urban Metal Cart is a positive context euphemism, like "garden apartment" for a basement rental. Or saying "mature" instead of "old."
Grandma: My favorite are the negative context euphemisms with phonetic modification. Geez, kiss my arse! What the eff, you S.O.B. You are full of stoopid, frickin be-yotch.
Grandma: Euphemisms are a lot better than euthanasisms.
*Euphemism definition from Wikipedia