Friday, July 11, 2008

Designors (a recycled post)

Many years ago when I edited Information Design Journal, I included a column of short thoughts that I called Sorts (a typographers' in-word meaning a piece of printing type, particularly an obscure symbol or character). Tidying old papers, I came across one of these columns, and it occurred to me that this blog is just a continuation of that old series. So I thought I would recycle something from 1986:

"Graphic design has become big business, but a recent ad for a personal computer graph plotter indicates that graphic designers might have something of an image problem: it promises 'a complete studio at your fingertips - with no delays, no tantrums, no egos'. Now in a slick public relations move the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers is to drop the 'artists' bit, with its connotations of temperament and other-worldliness. I understand that it has voted to change its name to the Chartered Society of Designers, redolent of chartered accountants, surveyors and so on...

They might like to go further and consider the use of the '-or' suffix, whose prestigious associations were noted some time ago by the linguist Dwight Bolinger*. 'This is evidenced in the -or of expeditor (adopted after much discussion by the members of this profession), which has appeared also in advisor, publicitor, realtor and weldor'. The only one still to appear in my dictionary is 'realtor', which turns out to be a trade mark of the National Association of Realtors...

Bolinger himself managed to achieve distinction as a linguist without changing his own name to Bolingor. Any votes for designor? graphicor?"

*Bolinger DL (1946) 'Visual morphemes', Language, 22:333-340.