Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hot N Cold About Katy Perry

Katy Perry scored one of the biggest hits of the year with "I Kissed a Girl." This song pissed off a few church leaders with its trendy-bi message, leading to signs like this:


Kiss and let kiss, I say, but this church clearly misses the point of the song. Perry is kissing a girl to impress her boyfriend, which is kind of lame. And using a lesbian kiss to stir up controversy is so five years ago. But I guess it worked!

Perry's second single, "Hot N Cold," is a big improvement. I've listened to it five times already today. Romantic partners not knowing what they want can cause all kinds of problems in our lives. And so can apostrophes. My iPod has the song listed as "Hot 'N Cold," which is wrong since that implies that the "N" stands for "in." (I've discussed this problem here, here, and here.) So, I went straight to the source to see what the song is really called. But Perry's web site is hot and cold about apostrophes, too. It refers to the song as "Hot N Cold" at the top of the page and "hot n' cold" (hot no cold?) at the bottom.



And are those backwards quotation marks? Still, "Hot N Cold" is hot.

3 comments:

Charles Simone said...

So five years ago? Try 13 years!

Becky said...

Yeah, that too! Good point.

Anonymous said...

All very interesting and amusing, but your position on all of this reflects your job as a editor. Your job is, in part, to ensure an author's work is revised to comply with the editorial conventions adopted by your publisher. A linguist, on the other hand, might just observe, record and analysis usage, not attempt to direct it. The OED takes the latter approach and gives three forms for 'n' as a conjunction, viz. 'n', 'n and n, and also its hyphenated use, e.g. mix-n-match. Interestingly its first citation is "1858 O. W. Holmes in Atlantic Monthly Sept. 497/1 To beat the taown 'n' the keounty." Noting the change in spelling, it not surprising changes in apostrophe use have been observed since. Language is a biological phenomenon and subject constant evolution. You can apply rules within a defined context, but you cannot hope to control it across its wider population of users. Contexts vary and there is no right or wrong. For instance in the US you use a stop after contractions (e.g. Dr.), but we don't. We use them after truncations (e.g. Prof.). Neither is right or wrong. Its just conventions within contexts, and conventions are by definition contrivances. I suggest attempting to achieve language uniformity across a wider population is all too French, adopted as a defensive position and destined to fail.