Phrases that strike oddly

A billboard the other day, seen through the fog in an early-morning commute, which I found entirely creepy: “Target the Heads Down Consumer”

(Target as in, aim a weapon at? Aim for the head? Are their heads bowed in contemplation, depression, concentration, overwork, obliviousness? Is this a command (“Heads down, consumer!” or “Down, consumer!”) Are they consuming heads?)

A dsecription of cannelloni: “meat filled tubular pasta.” Way to make it sound appetizing.


Two things come to mind:

  1. The “consumers” have their heads down because they don’t want to be bothered by invasive advertisements. In other words, they’re like me, they only pop their heads up when they want something. So, “target the heads down consumer” means “sell people shit they aren’t interested in”.
  2. It’s a poorly punctuated phrasing of “Target the heads! Down, consumer!” Really no different than the point above.

Another example of the blatant militarization of the English language. They aren’t “targeting” anyone, just trying to sell useless shit to unsuspecting saps who don’t even want it, so why use a phrase that reminds me of shooting innocent bystanders who are only trying to duck and cover? That’s unnecessarily brutal, but what they’re actually doing is so banal and so craven that couching it in military terms is praising it with faint damnation.

That’s also a fair description of myself, except for the pasta part. I am a meat-filled tube, albeit one not made from pasta.

I’ve always had this weird idea of an Italian restaurant where the menu items are literally translated into English. For example, you can have your pasta with angry sauce (arrabbiata) or with whore sauce (puttanesca). Maybe some veal or chicken so fresh that it jumps in your mouth (saltimbocca). If pasta isn’t your thing, feel free to eat some underpants (calzoni) instead. Just be sure to save room for tubes (cannoli) for dessert!


We are all basically enhanced food-digestion tubes.


The first thing that came to my mind was that it was an ad for a company selling mobile ads: “Heads down” meaning looking at their smartphone.


“in a bad way”

I don’t think Orwell was deliberately ironic when he used that phrase in “Politics and the English Language.” Apparently a lot of Brits use that phrase.

“on a bad way”-- perhaps the bridges are out, the way has turned to potholes or mud, and you’re stuck-- would make more sense to me.

Hmmm. You appear to be correct. Google implies that “heads-down” means looking at a smartphone.

Still the same bullshit though. Why can’t they just say what they mean and say “smartphone consumer” instead of some unclear buzzword that only people in the biz understand?

We will also need a completely new term after everyone has an eyePhone:


First, I think that, especially when being put on a billboard, they’re saying, “Hey, marketing people. You’re the only people who at billboards anymore; everyone else is looking down at their phone. Why not put your ads where someone will look?” It’s not so much a buzzword as it is imagery trying to convey a point.

Second, even if it is a buzzword, I think it’s aimed, again, at people in marketing, who would be familiar with it. I know what the letters IPA stand for, but, as I don’t drink beer, I have no idea what that means in terms of flavour* (the word “hoppy” comes to mind, just from exposure, but I don’t know what that means in terms of flavour, either). However, to a beer drinker, those three letters convey a lot of information (or, at least, so I assume). You can’t expect to understand the terminology of every ad that is specifically targeted at a group that you don’t belong to.

*Please don’t bother telling me what an IPA tastes like because I really, really don’t care.

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This made laugh aloud for some reason. Probably because I’m also not a beer drinker and the whole craft home brewing trend doesn’t interest me either.


Yeah, from Googling afterward, I did figure out it meant “people who stare at mobile phones.” Didn’t stop the creepy feeling from it. But then marketing kind of gives me the heebie-jeebies anyway.

It’s also weird to think that about a billboard that is advertising to people who want to advertise, but it seems to happen a lot. Maybe they’re the only ones who care about billboards anymore.

Though I did notice that particular sign, which is electronic and rotates ads, advised people a couple of years ago “if aliens land, remember the First Commandment.”

I think it stands for “Incredibly Putrid Alcohol” because… oh right, I won’t tell you


That’s the ting- if you drop too many context-dependent buzzwords into a sentence, you end up sounding like this:


This phrase makes sense.

If I had to make it brief and understandable, I’d probably use “smartphone consumer” rather than “heads down consumer” because both take up roughly the same amount of space and the former is far clearer than the latter.

Unless it’s some kind of jargon evolution. Using jargon proves that the sender speaks the same language as the receiver. When I did far more grant writing than I do now, I would intentionally use jargon because not using the industry accepted terms would make me look like I don’t understand the industry. I get that. What I don’t get is why there’s such a need for jargon. I suspect it’s constant language evolution to weed out the leading edge from the bleeding edge (speaking of pointless and overly violent jargon).

Whenever someone posts a billboard in Arabic (or even Hebrew) the local yokels start panicking…


I like beer. I drink a fair amount of it. I know the different styles, and I know what I like, and I probably can tell you what an India Pale Ale (ha! told you anyway) tastes like. But because I don’t know who owns what microbrewery and where it’s located and what beers they make, the beer snobs don’t consider me one of them :roll_eyes:

And it’s fine, because I’m really not one of them.

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I’m imagining a humanoid robot making a sandwich out of ice cream and guinea pigs.

It’s Andean street food/dessert fusion, and it’s so hip you’ve never heard of it.


I don’t know. “Smartphone consumer,” to me, would be someone who buys smartphones, not a consumer using their smartphone.

I think part of it is a way of designating in-groups (the way slang changes every decade or so to ensure that kids don’t use the same words their parents used), and the rest is futilely trying to avoid ambiguity between how a word is used by the public-at-large and how it is used by the in-group. For instance “smartphone consumer” as 'someone who buys smartphones" vs. “smartphone consumer” as “a consumer using their smartphone.”

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I knew some of these but it never really struck me just how many weird names there are in pasta.

Farfalle: butterflies
Lasagne: from “lasanum”, chamber pot (and possibly cooking pot)
Linguine: little tongues
Orecchiette: little ears
Vermicelli: worms


I didn’t know this one, but it’s even stranger than the underpants.

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You’ll need a tray.

Two others that I have encountered:
Garganelli- Oesophagus-shaped
Strozzapreti- strangled priests


“Hoppy” means it’s like a kangaroo or a bunny rabbit.

You’re welcome.