Cases of brand name genericization in nautical English


Abstract – The widely disseminated use of a brand name is commonly regarded by marketing specialists as an indicator of brand success in a highly competitive marketplace. From a linguistic perspective, it may result in a type of change called genericization, the linguistic process whereby a brand name is gradually turned from a proper noun into a common noun (Kleenex → a kleenex) thus becoming commonly used to identify a whole category of products; in some instances, it may even be converted into a verb (Google → to google, Facebook → to facebook). The analysis of linguistic aspects involved in genericization are also relevant to legal disputes for trademark protection, in which forensic linguists may be consulted to examine the linguistic status of brand names and their usage amongst speakers. Indeed, in legal terms, inappropriate, genericized use of brand names may result, especially in some countries, in trademark dilution, or genericide. Although the literature on genericization in the English language is quite abundant, previous studies have mainly been concentrated on brand names designating mass-marketed products or services, that is names largely used in everyday general language. This paper is, therefore, aimed at investigating the process of genericization of brand names found in the niche market of marine equipment for anchoring and mooring operations in recreational boating, thus falling within the broader research area of the specialised domain of Nautical English.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v22p65

Keywords: brand names; genericization; trademark dilution; terminology; Nautical English


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