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Monday, March 16, 2009

Case study in what late capitalism does to language: The Sci-Fi Channel is changing its name to SyFy.

NBC Universal's Sci-Fi Channel is changing its name to the "SyFy channel," a name that is apparently easier for children to text to one another and will therefore increase the company's earnings dramatically.

"SyFy" sounds exactly like "Sci Fi" when you say it, but, as Richard noted in the Trade Roundup, NBC Universal will own it now. For years, NBC executives had longed to trademark the channel's own name, but legal kept telling them you can't trademark a genre of entertainment for lonely obsessives. So they spent years, and paid a branding company gobs of money, to come up with SyFy.
"SyFy" is actually a fairly appropriate neologism; it nicely captures the relationship between the Sci-Fi Channel's generally crummy output and actual SF.

The end of the Gawker piece twists the knife just right:
Accompanying the name will be the channel's new slogan, "Imagine Greater," which means nothing and is grammatically incoherent.