I don’t hate many things but I’m beginning to loathe the word ‘wonga’.
It’s everywhere, thanks largely to the ubiquitous and nauseating wonga.com commercials, in which a trio of geriatric rubber puppets induce people to take out dubious pay-day loans with eye-watering interest rates.
The trouble is, they seem to have spawned an advertising industry love affair with the dreaded w-word. It crops up in the latest toe-curling Go Compare TV ad (about the big bad wolf) “…so why wait longer to save your wonga?” And as you exit the M1 at Junction 2 you cannot miss the giant Virgin Active billboard with the ambiguous line: “More Zumba. Less Wonga.” (Presumably they mean you get more exercise for your money at Virgin Active gyms. Call me a cynic but I can’t help reading it as “the more Zumba classes you take, the less money you’ll have.”)
It seems ‘wonga’ comes from the Romany ‘vonga’, meaning money. But English has many other perfectly good terms for money – including cash, dough, dosh and moolah. So how did it muscle its way into our vocabulary?
Knowyourmeme.com reckons no one really used ‘wonga’ before June 2009 when the dreaded Envirophone TV commercials, featuring ‘wongaman’ began invading our homes. Envirophone should clearly shoulder much of the blame for the increased usage of the w-word.
I can only hope that like other fads, this one will die out. Then maybe it’ll be a case of: “Less wonga. More sense.”