No, I haven’t yet mingled with the throngs of shopperazzi celebrating the arrival of Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus at the newly upscaled Natick Collection, formerly Natick Mall. (That’s why we have the Stylephile crew). But I’ve been monitoring the excitement in my own sedentary, text-centric, nitpicking way.
The first language oddity came in a mailing from Nordstrom, inviting me to enjoy the rewards of using a Nordstrom credit card. The (modest) perks escalate, of course, as the outlay does: To hit the top level, you need “a minimum annual net spend of $20,000 at Nordstrom on your Nordstrom card.”
No doubt the lawyers are responsible for all the preemptive redundancy. But what’s with the “net spend”? That’s not English -- at least, not everyday consumer-friendly American English. The Nexis news database found the phrase only 13 times (over 30 years) in US papers, and five of those were in the trade-oriented Variety.
It’s not that spend can’t be a noun, of course. But net spend is budget jargon; in an invitation aspiring to stylishness, it clashes like a cheap handbag.
But wait, there’s more: Next came a newspaper insert from Neiman Marcus, offering free treats at its opening. In honor of the store’s 100th birthday, visitors were invited to sample “one of those infamous chocolate chip cookies you’ve heard about.” I didn’t bite; I don’t know how a cookie achieves infamy, but I can’t say I’m eager to find out.
The author is solely responsible for the content.
Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.