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Gentrification v Generification

Brief by Central Staff

Correction – February 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine

Gentrification v Generification

In our January edition, we published the text of a speech presented by Dr. Laura McCall at last November’s Headwaters Conference in Gunnison.

Her text referred to “the generification and homogenization of the world,” while we published “the gentrification and homogenization….”

We could blame our spell-checking software, which knows about “gentrification” (because we’ve taught it; it’s not in the software’s standard dictionary) but hasn’t yet learned about “generification.”

Instead, we’ll just blame our aging staff, whose editorial and proof-reading eyes are nearing 50, and sometimes miss things.

Gentrification and generification aren’t the same process, although the same phenomenon could represent both, we suppose.

Gentrification refers to the replacement of downscale people, homes, and enterprises with upscale — say, a golf course where there was once a useful junk yard.

Generification means the invasion of the big boxes, franchises, and standardized landscapes that make one place look pretty much like any other. The arrival of a McDonald’s or Wal-Mart is generification.

A Starbuck’s Coffee, perhaps in a building previously occupied by a locally owned pool hall, would be an example of both processes.

Let us now apply that analysis to a specific event: the recent opening of a tanning salon and fitness center in Saguache.

It’s a local operation, not part of a chain. It does represent a way for the leisured to spend time and money. So we’ll say it qualifies as gentrification but not generification.

Further written discussion of these terms and distinctions is welcome, of course, at the Central Colorado Office of Lexicography, P.O. Box 946, Salida CO 81201.