A Papple A Day

When is an apple not an apple? When it’s a cross between varieties of pear but still looks like an apple and tastes like a pear. And what do you call such a fruit? According to Marks and Spencer, you call it a Papple.

The new fruit, a hybrid grown in New Zealand, is due to go on sale in the UK retailer’s stores in the next few days, and is currently only called a papple as a temporary measure until another name is found, or so it is claimed. I’d be surprised if that ever changes. Its official name is T109, which will of course not be widely used, not least because it sounds like an Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi robot.

The concept of pear crosses having similarities to apples is not a new one. Nashi Pear is perhaps the best known name of the Pyrus pyrofolia species, with Apple Pear being one of the alternative names. A papple is clearly a different fruit, and the use of a name that will stick in people’s minds in the short term is a good way of establishing the brand.

But will it last? Well the appearance of the Papple has allowed people to remind us of the Pineberry, combining the best of the strawberry and the pineapple; the Grapple, which is a grape-like apple; or the Aprium, which combines the apricot with the plum.

What these cross-breed words serve to tell us is that while they sound memorable, they don’t really have any great longevity. We will think about papples and joke about the word for a few weeks, and then they will be likely to fade away, with the word quickly becoming historical and not entering everyday usage. In fact, it will only become current the next time that somebody combines some fruit and puts it in the shops, allowing us once again to trot out all its predecessors. For entertainment’s sake, let’s hope that anything in the future involves a mango.

Shwopping Presents a New Swapportunity

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.