Sunday, October 14, 2007
Some words suddenly detach themselves from ordinary discourse. This may be pleasant - I'm okay with most current yoofspeak - but, especially in the commercial world, it can be fantastically irritating. The word that inspires these thoughts is 'source' used as a verb. It is said by antique dealers, builders, architects, designers, presenters of house makeover shows, gardeners and, soon, everybody. Typically, it appears in sentences like 'I can source those for you'. Yesterday, it was said to me by somebody in an antique shop. 'Do you often have these kind of lights?" I asked, 'Yes,' he replied, 'we can usually source those.' Now, consider what this actually means. The word 'source' is a membership card. He did not say 'get' or 'find' because they are things that one feels anybody can do. 'Source' professionalises the getting and finding process. To 'source' something is an expert or elite activity. Furthermore, 'sourcing' makes it clear that the elite have access to a club of providers to which you have no access. This immediately raises the value of the product in question. One 'buys' baked beans but one 'sources' original thirties Anglepoise lamps. Thus the world is divided into those that can 'source' and those that can't. And, if you can't, you must pay the prices demanded by those that can. 'Source' is, in fact, a euphemism for 'I have a lock on this market. I can get hold of this for about £10 and you can't. Therefore you must pay £763.47 exactly.' Perhaps, - and here is the final twist of the knife - you could actually find the thing in question for £10, but the word 'source' is intended to intimidate you into thinking that you can't. Anyway, with that, I will go and source the papers.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:41 am