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The Essential Distinction Between ‘Tacky’ and ‘Corny’

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Language lets us style the world round us on a regular basis with out ever opening our mouth. You don’t must lick your smack-talking buddy to know they’re salty, nor should you nibble on the Hollywood superstar who took the lead function in a Broadway play to know their efficiency is hammy. Fitness center rats with no genetic relationship to cows are beefy, and fishy conditions come up on a regular basis in environments utterly unsuitable for marine life.

Suffice it to say, meals phrases make such a deep impression on the consciousness that English want solely append a measly little -y to pull them from the palate into the realm of summary tastes. However what relationship does this newly shaped adjective must the expertise of the meals itself? This struck me the opposite day within the type of a extra particular query: What’s the distinction between tacky and corny? And what does that must do with the distinction between cheese and corn?

Each etymologies are anecdotal and inconclusive. By some accounts, corny involves us through jazz musicians within the Nineteen Thirties, describing licks that sounded retro and trite—one thing extra at house within the agricultural surroundings of a sq. dance than a complicated city jazz membership. Corny may need additionally been extrapolated from seed catalogs that circulated beginning within the Nineties and included easy and predictable little jokes within the margins that some referred to as “corn jokes.” Both manner, the that means appears to hinge on an aesthetically condescending geographic affiliation with rural America. Tacky, in contrast, has virtually no clear path to its present affiliation. Some declare the time period has nothing to do with the meals, however as an alternative arrives by an ironic reversal of the Urdu chiz, that means “factor,” which, picked up by British occupiers within the early 1800s, gave us phrases like “the large cheese.”

Though this will likely have performed a task in ushering it into the lexicon, I’ve a hunch that what gave tacky its semantic endurance is one thing far more scrumptious. Tacky and corny, phrases each used to denigrate aesthetic style, latch on to our robust neural associations with bodily style. Cheese and corn are each low-cost however scrumptious sources of bodily gasoline—in the identical manner that tacky or corny music may be catchy and satisfying however not precisely the elegant and soul-sustaining symphony the center yearns for. The distinction in gustatory expertise additionally aptly illustrates the delicate semantic distinction between the 2: one thing corny may be mild and candy, however finally small and insignificant, whereas one thing tacky pours on a heavy and pleasing coat of coagulated fats to disguise a scarcity of substantive meat. Regardless of their detrimental connotations, I feel corn and cheese, utilized in moderation, are necessary elements of the humanities, culinary and in any other case. I imply, who doesn’t love an arepa? However for our Wednesday clue, I needed to focus on the linguistic coincidence through the use of the identical clue for each phrases: Meals-related phrase used to explain dangerous jokes.

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