H.L. Mencken (18801956). The American Language. 1921.
large number of characteristic Americanisms are deliberate inventions, devised to designate new objects or to clothe old objects with a special character. The American advertiser is an extraordinarily diligent manufacturer of such terms, and many of his coinages, e. g., kodak, vaseline, listerine, postum, carborundum, klaxon, jap-a-lac, pianola, victrola, dictagraph and uneeda are quite as familiar to all Americans as tractor or soda-mint, and have come into general acceptance as common nouns. The Eastman Kodak Company, indeed, has sometimes had to call attention to the fact that kodak is its legal property, and in the same way the Chesebrough Manufacturing Company has had to protect vaseline.71 Dr. Louise Pound has made an interesting study of these artificial trade-names.72 They fall, she finds, into a number of well defined classes. There are the terms that are simple derivatives from proper names, e. g., listerine, postum, klaxon; the shortenings, e. g., jell-o, jap-a-lac; the extensions with common suffixes, e. g., alabastine, protectograph, dictograph, orangeade, crispette, pearline, electrolier; the extensions with new or fanciful suffixes, e. g., resinol, thermos, grafanola, shinola, sapolio, lysol, neolin, crisco; the diminutives, e. g., cascaret, wheatlet, chiclet; the simple compounds, e. g., palmolive, spearmint, peptomint, auto-car; the blends, e. g., cuticura, damaskeene, locomobile, mobiloil; the blends made of proper names, e. g., Oldsmobile, Hupmobile, Valspar; the blends made of parts of syllables or simple initials, e. g., Reo, nabisco; the terms involving substitution, e. g., triscut; and the arbitrary formations, e. g., kodak, tiz, clysmic, vivil. Dr. Brander Matthews once published an Horatian ode, of unknown authorship, made up of such inventions.73 I transcribe it for the joy of connoisseurs:
Note 71.Kodak had even got into the Continental languages. In October, 1917, the Verband Deutscher Amateurphotographen-Vereine was moved to issue the following warning: Es giebt keine deutschen Kodaks. Kodak, als Sammelname fuür photographische Erzeugnisse, ist falsch und bezeichnet nur die Fabrikate der Eastman-Kodak-Company. Wer von einem Kodak spricht und nur allgemein eine photographische Kamera meint, bedenkt nicht, dass er mit der Weiterverbreitung dieses Wortes die deutsche Industrie zugunsten der amerikanischenglischen schaüdigt. In American there are a number of familiar derivatives, e. g., to kodak, kodaker, kodak-fiend. [back]
Note 72. Word-Coinage and Modern Trade Names, Dialect Notes, vol. iv, pt. i (1913), pp. 29--41. [back]
Note 73. The Advertisers Artful Aid, Bookman, Feb., 1919, p. 659 ff. See also Word-Coinage, by Leon Mead; New York, n. d., and Burgess Unabridged, by Gelett Burgess; New York, 1914. [back]