Potato heads

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The British Potato Council has a campaign to remove the expression couch potato from the Oxford English dictionary on the grounds that does a healthy and nutritious vegetable a disservice. They are also ignoring the fact that the term 'vegetable' is used for a person in a coma. 'Banana' comes in for real disresepect as it means 'mad' and also is used in banana republic. If they want one vegetable to have a positive image, shouldn't they extend their 'campaign' to all fruit and vegetables in the name of consistency?

It is easy to leap up and say 'it's political correctness gone mad', but there is more to this feeble attempt at censorship- it's not political correctness gone mad, it's bad business gone mad. Firstly, it's self-centred and hypocritical; if negative expressions using vegetables are offensive, then they should be complaining about the expression carrot and a stick too, which maligns another healthy vegetable.

But they aren't. They are concentrating on their business. They are also demanding that a dictionary fails to do what it is supposed to do: reflect language usage. They want the term to be replaced with 'couch slouch', a good alternative IMO. However, the job of the OED is simply to record what we say, so if 'couch slouch' takes off, then it'll record two possibilities. The OED's criteria are clear and laid out and 'couch potato' clearly warrants inclusion.

Potato sales are suffering from the Atkins 'diet', and being blamed for the part in the rising obesity problems; Bill Clinton pointed out that french fries make up nearly 50% of the vegetables eaten by children in the USA. Potatoes are, as the council say, a low fat vegetable when they aren't extruded, deep fried, given a good shake of white death (salt) then shoved under an infrared light to stay warm while waiting for someone foolish enough to eat them.

There is something particularly feeble about these people planning their protests outside the OED headquarters for 'misrepresenting' their vegetable. The 'I'm-offended-so-something-must-be-done' industry is one of the sadder offshoots of political correctness, but these people demonstrating outside the OED building for doing what a dictionary should do are particularly sad spudheads.

Categories: General



I find this article incredibly funny. If I use "couch potato", or "banana republic", it's not a pictogram of the potato or the banana that pops into my head, it's the meaning of both put together. I don't separate the two and think, "poor little potato, oh much maligned banana, come to Mummy, then, poor little darlings. Have people been bullying you then? Well, we'll see about that! We shall protest and most vehemently, and our great cause celebre shall prevail. The OED? Let it fall, pass it through the shredders! What earthly good is it when it offends our vegetables, even though we are going to eat you, you know. No, no, I didn't say that, now don't take offense, perhaps you misheard...there, there, now calm down."
What is this rubbish?
We have offended food that we eat? They have brains, feelings, they are demanding a Charter of Potato Rights? No, they are lying comfortably and obliviously at the supermarket...oh! I mustn't touch them to test their quality, I could be up for sexually harassing a potato!
Don't people have better things to do?
Obviously not.
No causes out there to fight for that are more demanding and important? How wonderful, then, we must finally be living in Shangri-la.
I'm so terribly sorry, spudheads, but usage is usage. The exercise in the "fresh" air may do you good, may build up an appetite for a good meal of meat and potatoes. Dash it! I did it again, must I watch every little word?
A potato on its own is a potato.
A couch potato is a real live person who sloths his life away.
I needed a good laugh. Thanks, Tdol:-)

They missed 'cash in your chips'.

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