You know the presumably Starbucks-born trend of naming drink sizes something that not only makes them sound bigger than they are (we’ve been doing that in the US for years—-a “small” is called a “tall”) but also makes them sound more snooty and pretentious? It’s not a medium drink; it’s a “grande”. Etc. I’m sad to find myself numbing to it. Whenever I used to go to Starbucks, I would forcefully use the English term to describe the size of the drink I wanted. It would go something like this: “I’d like a small coffee, please.” They would repeat back to me, “A tall coffee.”
I think it’s Starbucks policy to snootily correct the customers when they use the “wrong” word for a size. For “normal” people who haven’t either been dulled to the silly labels or just aren’t the Starbucks type, it’s kind of shocking the first time or two. You feel like you’re being very subtly scolded.
You might say that creating a little language around your product is a good thing. I’m sure it’s all part of the branding process, and I’m sure that for the legions of Starbucks faithful, it actually creates a tribe-like feeling of inclusion. But it still puts me off.
Even as I grow numb to this corporate inanity, though, there’s one vulture eyed fact that gets under my skin every time I visit a Starbucks. While Starbucks tries to put on a classy air, they’re letting a mispronunciation epidemic run rampant through their employee population.
Venti != VEN-TAY
As I steam over this, waiting for my coffee, I sometimes think to myself: Do we know of any other professions in which the providers of a service behave with snobbish disdain toward their customers while most of them are actually quite ignorant about the very things they are snobbish about?