Okay, since I toiled relentlessly in putting together those two Forest Fair Mall articles, I’m entitled to slack off for a post. And this time it’s not even a decent photograph; on a bright winter day it’s hard not to eliminate the hard shadows. Sorry about that. But the point still comes across, as will my typical over-analysis.It’s a sign promoting Isabella, a recently renovated old apartment building in a gentrifying neighborhood in Washington DC. It’s not much—these things never are (that’s the point of my blog)—but it’s reflective of the need for a marketing team to have at least one person with a particularly good command of English.“Simply Outrageous Apartments”. Okay, so it’s not exactly humorous-funny. But weird-funny? I’d say so. Is “outrageous” really the best adjective for promoting the features of an apartment? I recognize that it’s a word of subtle semantic ramifications (much like “funny”), but few of the connotations are positive. The etymology, of course, involves a Middle French-influenced adjectival variant of the Middle English noun ” outrage “, which in itself has no real positive connotations whatsoever: an insult, grievance, injustice, violation of decency, and so forth. At the very least, the adjective form of the word allows for one definition that confers something remotely sellable—the “highly unusual or unconventional; extravagant; remarkable”—but it’s the fifth of five definitions listed at this particular source, implying that it is less common than the ones that precede it (all negative).
More uncomfortable, though, is one of the nouns that most frequently follows this word, and thus becomes a common association. Definition number three—“passing reasonable bounds; intolerable; shocking”—all words synonymous with outrageous that usually help modify the noun “price”. And I fear that it what the management company is going to face when trying to market the Isabella Apartments. It’s probable that this is still a respectable accommodation, and seeing “simply outrageous” may ultimately mean little. This is Washington DC, after all, so we expect the price for apartments to be an outrage. So, in all likelihood, since most people don’t think about these things as much as I do, it won’t impede these units from getting leased. But it’s not likely to expedite it either.’
Then again, perhaps the person responsible for putting “simply outrageous” on a sign out front the Isabella Apartments is just making a hat-tip to a piece of pop culture that all of us who enjoyed cartoons after school in the late 80s can recall with nostalgia. Yeah, that’s the ticket.