Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It ain't worth a hill of beans

I'd like to note, for the record, that a commodity is something with no differentiable value. Wiki sez:

commodity is some good for which there is demand, but which is supplied without qualitative differentiation across a market

A commodity, therefore, like oil or corn or beef, is meant to be interchangeable with all other items in its defined group. Colloquially, one speaks of a commodity item as one with relatively low unique value. 

A Valuable Commodity, on the other hand, is meant to be something that holds a high amount of intrinsic value, but is interchangeable with any other equal amount of the same item. Gold, for example, is a valuable commodity.

People seem to be using "valuable commodity" to mean "Something or someone unique, rare, or unusual, whose value should be appreciated." As though they mean to say "A valuable thing" or "A valuable person."  If a person is deemed a valuable commodity, that person is highly skilled but not differentiated. Any five-star plumber will do in place of this five-star plumber. Not terribly complimentary.

This is my small effort to make the world a better place. Our linguistic futures, while valuable, are not yet commodities.

4 comments:

Capt. BS said...

Perhaps "valuable commodities" are also "very unique."

Priya said...

the expression "valuable commodity" appears to mean "luxury good" or "precious resource"

oil is a precious resource for saudi arabia
salt is a luxury good in the 18th century
plumber is precious resource for her company

anyway the term seems really old school. i prefer to call it "my precious"

Priya said...

er. apparently a commodity is really anything from a widget to a hoo ha.
http://www.wordswarm.net/dictionary/commodity.html

Capt. BS said...

The day the hoo-ha is commoditized will mark the downfall of humankind.