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Do you have The Syph?

As you may have heard by now, the SciFi Channel is changing its name to the SyFy Channel. It seems like a lot of people are having the same reaction that I did: "The Syphilis Channel? Really?"

Over at The Whatever, John Scalzi reports [via ellestra ] that "syfy" literally means syphilis in Polish. With all due respect to the Poles, I think the bigger problem is that it means syphilis in English, too. Per the OED:

Syph (also siff, siph)
slang.

Abbrev. of SYPHILIS. Also with def. article.

...1925 Amer. Speech I. 24/2 For "syphilis", "pox" was used widely many years ago, but has given place more recently to the simple abbreviation "syph". 1930 J. Dos Passos 42nd Parallel I. 108 He got the siph off 'n her. 1947 Horizon Sept. 202 We're going to get the syph... 1969 P. Roth Portnoy's Complaint 129 I'll come down with the syph just from touching the ticket. 1971 B.W. Aldiss Soldier Erect Them mankey whores in yon knocking-shop'll give you a dose as soon as look at you. There's no' a one of them as isn't rotten with siff...

"Syph" meaning syphilis, it follows that "Syfy" would be the endearing form, "the cute syphilis," or maybe, in honor of Buffy's Xander Harris, "the funny syphilis."

For general reference to the Syfy Channel, though, I think "The Syph" makes a great nickname, one that lends itself to all sorts of wordplay. Just imagine the T-shirts.

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
martianmooncrab
Mar. 17th, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC)
but you cant cure the bad movies with antibiotics...
vee_ecks
Mar. 17th, 2009 07:59 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure why this hasn't occurred to anybody else, seemingly, but maybe it's just that my girlfriend and I both do branding work and I'm familiar with the channel's history and have actually worked with them in the past. I think this is an interim, flexible branding and they're going to push completely into another format. My best guess, at the moment, is that they're going to move into Spike's and G4's space - keep some of the SF/F reruns and whatnot, add to the video game and wrestling and Hunters of the Irrational content.

That's my guess, anyway.
voidmonster
Mar. 17th, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC)
This seems like a great time to pitch to those folks a network devoted to hard-boiled detective material. Gunsel would be the perfect name. There'd be loads of opportunities for cross-promotion!
rdeck
Mar. 18th, 2009 03:08 am (UTC)
In the 50s when I was reading SF pulps with their lurid covers of scantily clad girls being chased by BEM's, I was shunned by most of my peers as if I had syph. I'm not sure things have changed much.
furtummy
Mar. 18th, 2009 09:16 am (UTC)
I have yet to hear one positive thing from the sci-fi community about the name change. I suspect they're trying to move away from science fiction/fantasy/horror programming all together. I predict that within five years, they'll be showing re-runs of Friends.
overlord_mordax
Mar. 18th, 2009 01:49 pm (UTC)
And here I thought I was dating geeks because they *don't* have syphilis.

Darn.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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