The Null Device
This year's crop of pre-Christmas advertising in London includes campaigns from various charities, suggesting that people buy, as gifts for their loved ones, items of aid for people in developing countries. Oxfam's version of this campaign, titled "Famously Funusual Gifts", seemed particularly strained:
Other than "funusual" being a somewhat cringeworthy neologism, it is also inaccurate. One can say a lot of good things about giving someone a certificate that their gift was a goat for an African village or a combination children's playground and water pump: it can be worthy, enlightened, socially aware, and, yes, unusual. However, to say it is "fun" is somewhat of a stretch. One might get a lot of satisfaction, a feeling of wellbeing or worthiness, or (more uncharitably) a smug sense of moral and cultural superiority over the Sun-reading philistines who merely got a new plasma-screen TV for Christmas; however, none of these emotions are usually classified as "fun". Even if the certificate one gets in lieu of a present is set in Comic Sans and festooned with quirky cartoons.
This use of "fun" sounds like a potential neologism in the making; perhaps we will see the meaning of "fun" change to refer to something that's not particularly enjoyable though one is obliged, by social pressure, to grin and bear it and pretend that it is in order to keep up appearances of worthiness or superiority. ("This village toilet is the best gift ever; so much better than a Nintendo Wii.") Eventually, the implicit sarcasm will seep into the word "fun", and its original meaning will go the way of other words like "gay" and "special": "That sounds totally fun. Let's go do something else instead."