Hospitality Customers

Helen’s post, re-blogged here, got my mental wheels going on the subject of the English language. I believe it to be the world’s greatest, but it is surely the most complex of them all. While I have only studied two other languages, Latin and German, I believe English to be more dependent on context than others and it is surely richer in nuances and subtleties. As a devoted fan of crossword puzzles I am constantly amazed at the almost unlimited variations in presenting clues to the same answers.

What Helen says about the usage of “guest” and “pro-life” makes me think of another example, i.e., “home”. It has always irritated me that realtors insist on calling houses “homes”. To me, a home connotes something more than a structure, it means a place which one had adapted according to one’s own likes and lifestyle and for them to presume to sell me a home seems to usurp my privilege to take a house and make it my own. But when I go to the dictionary I see that the word “home” now includes all such variations. But that is the nature of our language, is it not?

I thought of another oddity about how our language works too. How about words like “disgruntled” and “nonplussed”? Why is it that nobody ever gets “gruntled” or “plussed”? And just think what society has done to the word “gay” since the early twentieth century! It’s enough to discombobulate anybody. I think what I need is something to recombobulate myself.

Helen of Marlowe's Blog

Have we abandoned the idea that words have meaning?

In our local paper yesterday, in a story about Target being refurbished, the local “executive manager of logistics” is quoted as saying, “… it will be more inviting to our guests.”

Guests? Guests don’t pay. At least that used to be the case. What Target has is customers. And there’s nothing wrong with that word. I know that words evolve, language evolves. It made a little bit of sense some years ago when hotels began referring to their customers/clients/patrons as guests – since hotel “guests” do in fact stay overnight and eat meals, as your own house guest would do. But for Target, it seems a bit of a stretch.

In so many ways, words have lost their primary purpose of communicating, and have taken on a manipulative aspect.

Another example: I believe in protecting the lives of women, even when…

View original post 320 more words

About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Democratic.
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6 Responses to Hospitality Customers

  1. PiedType says:

    I particularly enjoyed your last paragraph. Questioning words like this is almost a game with me. I often go to the dictionary to see if, for example, “plussed” and “gruntled” are legitimate words. Endless surprises there.

    Thanks for the heads up on Helen’s post.


  2. ansonburlingame says:


    As a routine reader of whatever you post, you get no disagreement from me on this blog. “Oh, Momma, home is so best” is a quote that I heard long ago from one of my cousins after he returned HOME from a trip. “A man’s HOME is his castle” in another more well known quote.

    Let’s KEEP it that way, is my call, both in politics and how we use the language.

    I am at the point where I despise “sound bites”. They corrupt the language of politics just like interpretations of words do in society. I thus have my MUTE button firmly in hand for ALL political advertisements in the coming campaigns.



  3. Ah, another crossword devotee! Our daily newspaper has dropped most of the worthwhile columnists (Krugman, Friedman, etc.) and kept the likes of Cal Thomas and Krauthammer, so I’d be sorely tempted to cancel the subscription except that (1) I believe in supporting newspapers, and (2) I like to do the xword puzzle with a blue ball-point pen, not with a keyboard. And of course the cryptoquote.

    I agree with your observation about the distinction between a house and a home. As in the example that set me off, I see that as another commercial manipulation, not a natural evolution.

    Lots of fun examples — ruthless is one of my favorites. My middle name is Ruth, so when my husband goes off without me, is he being ruthless? Is anyone ever described as being ruth?


  4. hlgaskins says:

    Words are used by businesses like frosting is used on a cake. The word “customer” reminds us to review our bank accounts before entering a business, but as guests we step into store showrooms on red carpets. Who wants to engage in a long-term commitment to a mortgage for just a house when the same money can buy a home? Awe “home sweet home.”


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