Matters of Pronunciation
Some of my best memories of my time on TTV involved the MOCist Interviews that I did, at first along with the deep-voiced Tom (I'm unsure of his current BZP username), then with Brickeens alongside us. Eventually Tom quit, which left Brickeens and I to pester other MOCists with our silly questions.
One of the questions was about how people pronounce the term "MOC." I always have pronounced it as "em-oh-cee" - because if you "mock" someone, it sounds like you're making fun of them. If a profile tribute is the greatest possible expression of love, then an MOC tribute must be the greatest possible expression of admiration.
Well, as it turned out, nearly all of the MOCists we interviewed pronounced it as "mock," and my pronunciation of it became a running joke on the interviews. The lack of clear, obvious pronunciation is awkward for a number of small reasons. For example, my pronunciation leads me to write "an MOC," while most write "a MOC."
At first, this made me want to run a MOC, but I didn't.
(Amok, a MOC? See what I did there?)
(Okay, that was terrible I'm so sorry please put the gun down I swear I won't make any more horrible puns really)
I've actually acclimated to others pronouncing it differently, and to be fair, "mock" is much more fluid in a sentence. I still think it sounds stupid, but to each their own. I've caught myself using that pronunciation during both of the past two BrickFairs, mainly because everyone else uses it.
In the end, there's really no problem with either pronunciation. The fact that it's an acronym doesn't give us a clue as to its correct pronunciation.
No, the real problem lies in the fact that it's an acronym. (Acronyms Anonymous: where the first step to recovery is recognizing that you're an acronym.)
Acronyms are quite possibly the strangest quirk of language, and English, considered to be one of the quirkiest of all human languages, has its fair share of acronyms. To start things off, let's look at some pronunciations:
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization): spoken as word
HTML (HyperText Markup Language): spelled out
CD-ROM (Compact Disc, Read-Only Memory): half-spelled, half-spoken
NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association): "AA" turns into "double-A" when said
Or take the recursive GNU, which stands for "GNU's Not Unix" - which, combined with the double-layered GIMP ("GNU Image Manipulation Program"), leaves a puddle where your brain used to be.
Right away, we can be thankful for two things: one, that "MOC" isn't a recursive acronym, and two ... well, there's no set pronunciation. So both ways are right.
But while this is a resolution to the initial question, let's go a bit deeper - because, as the MythBusters say, if it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing.
"MOC" has entered into the LEGO community's vernacular to a point where it gets used in speech and in text in bizarre situations, places where, if you replaced "MOC" with its constituent words, "My Own Creation," you end up with some hilariously mangled sentences. Take, for example, this excerpt of Fsnorglepuff's post in Ballom's topic Fishy:
Great design, but the eye holes in the head plate distract from the actual eyes of the MOC. Try to fit in orange pieces there.
Replacing "MOC" with "My Own Creation" leaves you with:
Great design, but the eye holes in the head plate distract from the actual eyes of the my own creation. Try to fit in orange pieces there.
Here's another excerpt, but this time of Dralcax's post in DARKSIDERZ's topic The Rahkshi Re-invented:
The torso is definitely the best part of the MOC. I love what you did with the spines and the head.
The torso is definitely the best part of the my own creation. I love what you did with the spines and the head.
Replacing it with "my own creation" leaves posts looking like they've either been caught by a new word filter or run through the bad translator a couple of times.
This isn't a phenomenon of this single term, by any means. A lot of acronyms lose their original meaning and become twisted over time to fit into sentences. Some even go so far as to lose their capitalization, and thus sever all ties with their acronymic origins. Radar, laser, and scuba are but three acronyms that are now words. If we all replaced the acronyms we use every day with their longer counterparts, we'd sound hilarious and at least a little bit incompetent.
Back to the MOC discussion for a bit before I wrap things up. Recently, I've been trying to avoid the term - not because I'm tired of pronouncing it differently, but rather because of what it stands for. "My own creation" reminds me of the "cool creations" of the LEGO magazine, which were never, ever cool. (Six-year-olds, generally speaking, don't have a concept of "color scheme.") It's also pretty redundant, and becomes a hassle if you're referring to something someone else built. In some situations, it's sort of like saying "PIN number" (Personal Identification Number number).
That's why I've taken to calling them "creations." It's simple, it's direct, and there are no concerns anent its pronunciation.
Now that's something to run a MOC about.
NEXT TIME: SUMIKI'S DAD DISCUSSES THE PHILOSOPHICAL AND MORAL ASPECTS OF MUTATED PLEXIGLAS.