Home / Acne / What’s in a name? Sometimes using a word can change the cultural reaction to its meaning

What’s in a name? Sometimes using a word can change the cultural reaction to its meaning

There’s an obscure branch of science called semiotics. It studies the process called communication. How a message is passed from one point to another using signs and symbols. So, birds and frogs sing to attract mates. Other species of animals and plants release chemicals into the environment to mark their territory, tell each other when they are fertile and ready for action, and so on. Humans have developed language so that meaning is attached to sounds or images. At the simplest level, everyone will recognize the noises made when people are in pain or happy. Groans and laughter are universal. But then it gets complicated because different languages used in different cultures produce different meanings for the same sounds or images. For example, the several hundred million people in Indonesia and Malaysia (more than currently live in the US) think that the three letters “air” mean “water”. In fact, groups of letters can be given any meaning. Some of these meanings will be kind, others less so. To understand these meanings, you have to be in the culture. Someone who is not a native speaker will never understand all the different shades of possible meaning in a given language.

One of the most feared words is most cultures is “acne”. It may only be four letters, but to people approaching puberty or their parents and family, this is something to dread. There seems to be no end to the cruelty of humans to each other. Once a difference emerges in a group, it’s picked on as something terrible and the attacks begin. Only those who match the norms are safe. That means anyone whose skin suddenly erupts into pimples is treated as a plague carrier. Their personal hygiene standards are criticized and every aspect of their character is put under the microscope. This treatment is damaging to self-esteem. Confidence fades when you are victimized in this way. What should be a normal part of growing up that everyone accepts becomes a dangerous rite of passage. There are only two ways to deal with this problem. Either the culture must change to be more forgiving of difference or the medical profession must supply a “cure”.

Against this background, it’s fascinating to see the spread of “acne” as a brand. Now emerging from Sweden on to the world market comes Acne, the fashion label, and Acne Paper, the fashion magazine. The fashion house has just opened its first store in New York offering a wide range of own-label clothing from fashion jeans to stylish dresses and blazers. It’s also working on furniture, music and movies. The magazine is also about design. It’s mainly European in style. The importance of the use of this word is that it may begin the process of changing culture. If more people wear the clothes, sit on the furniture, read the magazine and listen to the music, the horror of the word may start to fade. People will still be cruel to each other but they may pick on different features. Until we get this cultural revolution, you can always rely on the drug market for relief. Buy accutane online and find an effective treatment almost every time. Better still, using an online pharmacy lets you buy cheap accutane – treatment is always better value when it’s affordable.