Yesterday...just to gin up some speculative conversation and, at the same time, prompt some thoughtful deliberation...I posted my remarks above on the Crispin Colloquy--a discussion forum I run for my Trade guild.
My friend Al Saguto made the following comments (reproduced here in its entirety with his blessing).
I share your frustration with all that, but it's nothing peculiar to our time and culture.
Remember the heated Forum discussion years ago on "toe box", "toe puff", "toe stiffener", "toe case", "toe lining"? All perfectly legit terms for the same thing more or less, just different regional variants over the last 200 years. T'would be nice if language stood still, but it doesn't.
With our students it's our job to teach them, show them each term but beg that they just pick one, stick to it, and blame their choice on their teacher
What bugs me more is how marketing "catalogue lingo" has dumbed-down the general population to the point they can barely discuss footwear. My pet peeves are:
Many can no longer distinguish between heel and sole, because of unitized bottoms
Many conflate instep with arch
Most can't tell a mold from a form (last)--it's all a mold to them
We're losing proper English "boot leg" for the German "shaft"
Good old thread has become "twine", "string", etc., and sewing/stitching is now degenerated into "lacing", "thonging", "binding"--anything but sewing/stitching it seems
Insoles are now cushy things you buy and insert inside your shoes--not the structural first sole everything's built to
Shank-pieces devolved to just "shanks", and now to "arch supports"
Heel stiffeners and counters are now "rear foot stabilizers"
Fewer and fewer can distinguish between a boot and a shoe, or are too lazy to try, hence "tall riding shoes" for top boots
Leather no longer has the flesh and the grain--it has the "suede side" (apologies to the Swedes) and the "smooth side"
And just because L.L. Bean didn't want their backless footwear to be restricted to indoor wear, they renamed good old slippers (mules
is French), "slides" in marketing. Now backless slippers are generically called "slides". WTF
Don't despair, it's much worse in other trades. Ever stand at the service counter at an auto repair place and listen to a customer trying to describe what they think is wrong with their vehicle? "It sounds to me like the metal dohickey that holds the rubber gizmo is lose and rubbing on the big round thingie." "Sure Mr. we'll get right on that."