When you reflect on all the symbols, gestures, and phrases that bombard your everyday existence, you may find a panoply of simple words that are missing a definition. Case in point: How many times have you or a friend said “I’d like a Venti latte” without pausing to consider what Venti actually means?
The inspiration for this blog post is Starbuck’s introduction of the Trenta, a drink size larger than Venti that will soon be available for iced beverages. How much larger than a Venti, which is 24 ounces? Try seven more ounces, a total of 31. That’s a lot of iced coffee, sugar and milk.
First of all, here are the size options: Tall (12 ounces), Grande (16), Venti (24), and soon, Trenta (31).
Let’s briefly address “tall.” This designation by the coffee company is considered by many to be a classic instance of corporate language manipulation. “Tall” sounds like “small” but means something close to the opposite. The result arguably encourages a consumer to think a little less about the size of his or her beverage as well as the size of the bill.
“Grande” is Italian for “large,” “Venti” means “twenty,” and “Trenta” is “thirty.” Why isn’t the 16-ounce size “Sedici” (Italian for sixteen) instead? One could point out that “Grande” conjures up associations with the English “grand.” The word is also ubiquitous in general food marketing so that it may convey a sense of mystery that doesn’t seem foreign enough to become alienating to a consumer. Perhaps the as the names of drink sizes shift from the most familiar (“Tall”), to the most exotic (“Trenta”), consumers prefer the more obscure names so as not to remind themselves of the cost or calorie count of what they are about to drink.
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