I have long had a problem with the word "extraordinary". World Triathlon's rebranding came up with a new tagline, "Be your extraordinary". When I saw that, it took me back to 2014 and 2015 when Digicel Samoa (telco) used the phrase as their tagline: "Be Extraordinary". The problem, and it's mine alone, is the word extraordinary. In its simple form, it is asking me to be twice as ordinary. Suppose you dangle the word in front of a non-English speaker. That is exactly what it means to them. It makes sense too. Put the word "extra" in front of any descriptive adjective and it means you are twice as strong, brave, smart, intelligent and so on. So why is it different when "extra" and "ordinary" are put together? Even if English is your first language, the word's spelling is just that, extra-extra ordinary or twice as ordinary if not more so. But we speak of extraordinary as meaning out of the ordinary. It's a superlative of the highest order. But really, I would prefer instead the wording Not Ordinary.
For a whole two years and maybe longer, I used that tagline for myself in the face of Digicel's blanket coverage of their proud tagline. Everywhere you looked, there was a billboard exhorting Samoans and Pacific Islanders to Be Extraordinary, on television, in newspapers and on every online platform. It drove me nuts and extra insane, especially since Digicel sponsored everything else on the island except the amazing and not ordinary activities we were actioning. Like the 22.3km inter-island Apolima Strait swim, the Warrior Half Ironman race, the Samoa Swim Series, the 104km Perimeter Relay, Savai'i Marathon and more. Those were anything but ordinary activities. Like the Tokyo Olympics. How amazing was that? And how many times did you hear the word "extraordinary" being uttered or written to describe an out of this world performance by an athlete? Of all the superlatives, "extraordinary" was the most used.
However, the message is clear or meant to be from World Triathlon for triathletes to go beyond being ordinary and reach their best. It is a great message, but from a non-English speaking perspective, the message is tainted.
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