Scissor Madness

Like all proper writers, I appreciate a good pun, but I’ve always been a bit puzzled as to why hair salons are so fond of them.  You can seem to swing a dead cat out there without hitting a “Shear Madness” or “Headquarters” or “Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow”.  I suppose it has something to do with the words “hair” and “shear” lending themselves so well to wordplay, although one wonders if after a point a critical mass was hit and people opening new hair salons just thought it was the done thing.

But what am I to make of two establishments I saw recently, “Shear Connections” and “Shear Motion”?  I mean, most of the names with “shear” in them presumably rely on the homonym “sheer” for the pun, which is to say that they play off the different definitions: “unmitigated” on the one hand, and “cutting instrument” on the other (although the latter is technically “shears”).  But “Unmitigated Connections” and “Unmitigated Motion” don’t really make a whole lot of sense, whether you’re talking about a hair salon or not.  So what are they going for, exactly?  I guess, in the case of “Shear Motion”, the name could refer to the strain produced by the pressure of two layers of something are laterally shifted in relation to one another.  That makes a lot of sense, but it isn’t the sort of name that would tempt me into a barber’s chair.  And “shear connection” already means something too, namely a connection made to resist shear but allow rotation.

I think what’s going on here is similar to the phenomenon of eggcorns.  Except, with eggcorns, you ideally end up with something that makes sense, in a weird kind of way.  But then, that’s the sort of problem you end up with, when you don’t pay attention to your words.

~ by smwilliams on April 3, 2012.