What is it with the need to create new words out of ‘swap’? Earlier this year, Wordability looked at the non-word Swapportunity, which has managed to gain a degree of currency despite being made up for an American Yoplait commercial.
Now UK retailing icon Marks & Spencer has got in on the act. Its new campaign, encouraging people to bring in an old item of clothing to donate to Oxfam whenever buying something new, has prompted them to try and introduce a new word into everyday English. People are shopping and swapping, so they must be Shwopping.
The plan has, hardly surprisingly, garnered significantly publicity, with ‘shwopping’ featuring prominently in all the coverage.
Can M&S claim to have invented it? The company is certainly proud of the word, and chief executive Marc Bolland was quoted as saying: “Within 24 hours this word of ‘shwopping’ might be added to the British language.”
But I wonder whether he checked with environmental campaigners in New Zealand. After all, in December last year, The Big Shwop took place in Wellington, encouraging people to swap one item for another. So maybe not quite as original as we thought.
Personally, I am not sure about shwopping as a word. It sounds a bit to me like I was planning to swap something, but the six pints of beer I drank made it much harder for me to say it. And that would be the only way I would be likely to shwop until I dropped.