Developers’ Lexicon


bacchus-w-paperplane-blmirrorcr“Honey! Hit the brakes!”

“What? Why?!”

“Didn’t you see the sign? ‘Mirage Crossing.’ Who knows what damage might be done to our car if we hit one.”

“Give me a break — that’s just a subdivision sign…”

“‘Mirage Crossing…’ Where do developers get those names, anyway?

“You’re always nitpicking. What difference does it make?”

“Another one that bugs me is, ‘Chaparral Pines,’ up at Payson. Everyone knows that a chaparral wouldn’t be a chaparral if it had pines.”

“Nobody knows what a chaparral is, or cares.”

“Sure they do. I think a little more honesty would be in order when naming these places… you know, no more ‘Thunder Ridge’ stuff, on the flats next to the grocery store.”

“So what do you expect? If they really wanted to be honest they’d have to use names like ‘Neighborview Court,’ or ‘Barking Dog Estates.’ Who’d want to live in those places?”

“Even those are euphemistic; should be ‘Neighbor-Viewed-in Court,’ and ‘Barking Dogs Estate.’ After all, it takes more than one barking dog to make a neighborhood.”

“That’s my point. Nobody wants to face the grim reality of living in a subdivision. They want to live on some mountain peak just far enough from the neighbors to feign isolation. Not being able to afford it, they have to settle for just the name. At best, all most people can afford is a place that used to be beautiful.”

“Well then, at least they could use names reflecting the past beauty of the place.”

“Fine. You buy a house at ‘Desecrated Meadow.’ Even ‘Mirage Crossing’ is better than that.”

“I suppose you’re right. Maybe naming subdivisions is all about mirages after all. But at least they could be fun, or smart. Look at this dumb name, ‘Pine Oaks Subdivision,’ what the heck does that mean?”

“Graft?”

“No, just misleading the public.”

“I mean the trees; maybe they graft the trees.”

“Yeah, right… Actually, the names for all these subdivisions are so common I’ve always wondered if developers use one of those little books to dream them up — you know, like the ones for naming babies. Sort of a ‘developers’ lexicon.’”

“Gotcha… has a list of names to choose from, like ‘forest, carriage, crossing, lamp, brook, eagle, estate,’ and so on.”

“Right, just pick two or three like from a Chinese menu and glue ‘em together so they sound good, like ‘Eagle Carriage Estates,’ or ‘Lamp Brook Crossing.’ That way they don’t have to waste valuable development time researching local history, flora, or fauna in search of appropriate names.”

“You never give people enough credit. I’ll bet developers put together focus groups looking for just the right names to attract consumers to their projects.”

“I see, multi-disciplinary brainstorm sessions using linguistics experts and humorists to educate the public through the vehicle of parody… I can think of only a few names that clever, and they’re businesses, not subdivisions.”

“Like what?”

“Like the ‘Tyler Too Carwash.’ Remember? Right across the street from Tippecanoe Mall in Lafayette, Indiana, just a few miles from where Harrison fought the battle of Tippecanoe. That one’s pretty clever, playing off the famous Presidential campaign slogan of 1836…”

“You’re getting into some pretty obscure stuff, there. Do you really think the average passer-by appreciates the humor?”

“Well I appreciate it, anyway. And how about Grant’s Body Shop?”

“In Richmond?”

“Yeah. That’s a good one too, at least when you see the picture of the dead general’s corpse on the sign; and it could only work in the capital of the Confederacy. But I’m telling you, clever names like that are most certainly on a higher plane than ‘Canyon Crest.’”

“Huh?”

“‘Canyon Crest.’ We just passed it. How can a canyon have a crest, much less here in the desert flats? It insults the intelligence. No focus group would ever come up with a name like that, experts or not.”

“So what are you saying — there’s a ‘conspiracy’ to come up with these names? You always think everything is a conspiracy!”

“Obviously, these subdivision names are part of the media-industrial conspiracy to dumb down America.”

“Well I think you give them way too much credit. So far as I can tell they’re just a bunch of oxymorons.”

“What? The developments or the developers?”

“Both.”

©2009, 2013 Gregory N. Brown

5 Responses to “Developers’ Lexicon”

  1. Having worked with a few neighborhood developers here on branding and marketing, I assure you you are pretty much right on the money. And just on a personal note, it’s always fun to explain to a call center operator why we live on Pelican Place in Carmel, Indiana. Blue herons, cardinals, finches– sure. Pelicans– not so much.

    • paperjet Says:

      Jan, you are such a blast! I wrote this before the latest naming fad of ultra-long subdivision names like Desert Cactus at Pelican Place Seaside at Tierra Fuego Bellissimo. (What’s with all the Italian stuff, anyway?)

  2. Great Post Greg. We live in Trappers Crossing in Hesperus, Colorado, and the boys are always working it into a spoonerism. Actually that has some historical significance. The area was a large cattle ranch, and I can’t imagine the cowhands didn’t engage in a cowchip throwing contest from time to time.

    TF

  3. Janis Says:

    Gosh, Greg– must be karma. Guess what are our newest project is? Guess we’ll have to be stealing some of your good ideas!

    • paperjet Says:

      Can’t wait to hear more about it, Jan. I’m depending on you and Bernie to prove me wrong!

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