It is not lost on anyone that words are powerful and that they can profoundly transform the concept we all have of something or someone. It is not only what we say but how and when we say it. It is not only what we are said but also how we are said.
An already classic example of this process has been the (failed) attempt to create an inclusive language in Spanish in which men and women are equal, through grammatical usage: first by splitting the genders (which is contrary to the basic principle of the economy of language) and then by replacing the gender-indicative (a/o) vowels with neutral vowels or even by using only the feminine gender. This proposal is so artificial that it would make any normal speaker squeak and give most philologists a rash. As the linguist from Madrid, a member of the Mexican Academy of Language, Concepción Company, says: “When societies are egalitarian I am very sure that grammatical habits will change. Equality is not about being called “arquitecta” [feminine of architect, in Spanish] but about being paid the same.
But this does not only happen in Spanish, nor does it only happen in political marketing or with respect to social issues. Sometimes instead of adapting to new times, analysing market trends and consumer needs, companies find “solutions” that are apparently only superficial.
This is the case with the BBC. The English channel is excluding the words television and radio from its vocabulary in order to attract a younger audience, between 18 and 34 years old, who prefer Netflix to its content. In an attempt to adapt to the new realities, it is working on a branding project to change the term BBC Television to BBC Screen and BBC Radio to BBC Audio. This proposal could cost him over £1 million
But is it changing at the concept level? Is it transforming? Apparently not.
So what would be the result? Surely, if the change is only in words and not in message; if it is a transformation of brand and concept, if it is only appearance and not essence; nothing will happen. Or it will. Maybe it will continue to decline and one day it will stop connecting with its audience. And its change will be a simple blah, blah, blah…