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(Long introduction, feel free to skip to the end)

This might not be the right place to post this, but a fellow organizer of a convention and I are having a slight disagreement, and I need some sort of qualified, quantifiable feedback. I suppose you can say I'm asking opinions, but when talking design it is often subjective and the 'correct answer' might be defined by the opinion of the masses. So here I go.

Our organization has recently started attracting enough international attention (it's a cosplay/comic-convention in Norway) for people to travel abroad to come attend our events - which is cool. We've begun adapting to this by having a multilingual website and by serving customers information in both Norwegian and English.

Our (kind of unofficial) slogan is, in Norwegian, for folk med fantastiske fritidssysler which I roughly translated while trying to maintain the same style of phrasing to for folks with fantastical hobbies - later to realize that switching 'hobbies' with 'fascinations' might be more fitting.

Anyway, my fellow organizer disagrees with the use of the word 'folks', saying that it's 'so archaic that people will think it's some sort of typo or lingual error, or simply that it's a bad joke'. I suggested asking another of our organizers who has a Masters degree in English literature, but apparently she's not good enough as this is 'more of a design/concept thing'.

tl;dr:

So I ask of you - does the slogan 'for folks with fantastical hobbies' (or 'for folks with fantastical fascinations') strike you as bad slogans because of the use of the word 'folks' specifically? Would you recommend finding a different alternative?

Thanks for your advice, and sorry for the long introduction - I felt like some background was needed to justify my question. :)

  • Moving this to Writing because I don't know what it has to do with design. – Ryan Sep 21 '16 at 22:11
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I'll answer this from the perspective of a non-native speaker of English.

As a Norwegian event, your marketing will most likely be targeted at Europeans, not Americans, Australians, and other English-speaking non-European countries. You will know better what countries (and languages) your foreign visitors come from, but I would guess that besides the UK they will mostly come from continental Europe.

For people from Scandinavian countries the Norse slogan will be perfectly comprehensible, so you are primarily addressing Dutch, German, Polish, and other central and southern Europeans. To these, who have learned English as a foreign language in school and then forgotten most of it, "folk" is either unfamiliar, or it is similar to a word in their own language (e.g. German "Volk" = "an ethnicity"), or they will most likely associate it with folk music. Many will probably not understand it to mean what it does in Norwegian, that is, people.

A marketing slogan should not be ambiguous, unclear, or confusing, but simple, straightforward, and easy to understand. Therefore,

if you need to address non-native speakers of English, many of which will only have rudimentary knowledge of English, use the most simple English you can, and avoid any words that are not among the most frequent.

The online version of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) contains information on frequency of words. The highest frequencies are rated 7 and 8. These words are known to everyone who has learned that language. "Folk" is in category 6. This contains words such as "dog", that are familiar to most, but also words like "parish" that are a bit more difficult. If your words are from frequencies 6 or below, think carefully about them and whether they denote something that your audience typically thinks of in English.

The OED is paywalled but accessible through most university libraries.

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You're fine with "folks" because the context removes any antiquated notions it might create in other contexts.

eg. "Food Fair: for folks that love munchies" makes the reader think it's a old-time style fair, with a slight weed overtone.

But you're a cosplay convention, so the use of "folks" in the slogan becomes a wonderfully warm, enticing, comforting, familiar gathering of like minded people. And for something like Cosplay, that's a good thing.

Words like "folks" are entirely determined by their context. They don't become the focal point unless the context makes them so. This doesn't, your situation makes the word's use very inviting and... well, just right!

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  • I accepted @what 's answer because I think it seems like the more technically correct one, but I will take your advice and stick with folks - since I personally agree with you. +1 :) – Aurora Vollvik Oct 5 '16 at 11:08
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I'm not sure this question works here either, but dang, it's a cool question, so here goes...

I'm guessing that probably a better English translation for the Norwegian word "folk" would be "people" instead of the direct translation to the English "folk."

The English word has a sort of home grown, simple, farmer, hillbilly, country mouse not city mouse sort of feel to it. Folk music, folk art, folk tales - these are all things that something science fiction doesn't fit well with.

I think it's often a mistake to translate a phrase directly word for word because you just aren't going to get the same feel that you would from the original language - so the answer is don't even try. Just come up with something either similar, or completely different in English...

How about, "For Geeks with Crazy Ideas," or, "Cosplay in Norway." (That last one even rhymes grin.)

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