My blind and ignorant fumblings in the damp cave of language continue.
There is an ad on one of the free papers today for slop, or ‘chunky pieces of meat….delicious pasta and veg’, as the description has it. The abbreviation of vegetables to ‘veg’ is worthy of a post on its own, but that is not what first captured my attention.
The ad has the following as its tagline (if that is the correct term):
Eats like a meal.
In my world, which is as close to reality as I can manage, meals do not eat. People, or even animals, eat meals. There are many things that meals can do, like leave you writhing in indigestive agony at 2am (such was my experience this morning in the aftermath of a burger and a half from the Superquinn meat counter. Like those two cleaning ladies off the telly, I find baking soda to be very useful), or heighten one’s religious fervour, but ‘eating’ is not generally recognised as being one of them.
Yet it is quite common for people to speak of objects as though they were capable of human actions. You often hear about how a car ‘drives’ (like a dream), or how a book ‘reads’ (like Agatha Christie on steroids). Wine bores also gush about how their tipple ‘drinks’ (this Black Tower drinks like pear juice). There is surely a recognised term for this phenomenon, but I don’t know what it is.
The simplest example of this phenomenon I can think of is that of taste. When someone says ‘this quiche tastes like shite’, it is their own tasting that determines this, and is not down to any agency on the part of the quiche. As it is being ingested, the quiche isn’t the one doing the tasting.
However, the use of ‘taste’ in this case appears to refer to a specific effect that the quiche has upon the body of the real man doing the eating. So whilst the verb is the same, the meaning alters depending on the context. A man and a quiche taste differently. This happens all the time in language: Simon and Garfunkel ‘doing’ America is not the same as Beavis and Butthead ‘doing’ America.
Back to the encomium for the packeted slop. If we can accept that a meal can ‘eat’, on the same basis that a quiche can taste and wine can drink and wind can break, what conclusion can we draw about something that eats like a meal, but isn’t actually a meal?
Is the point to attract people who think that ‘meals’ are something you get served in a restaurant, and therefore a luxury?