Let me start by saying that I don’t know why Gmail is showing me ads for walk-in tubs (maybe it can tell how hobbled I still am from the major hike I did on the weekend?), but good heavens, this ad has a lot of errors crammed in to one small space:
Safety Walk in Bathtubs – www.PremierBathrooms.ca – Easy Entry, Low Door, Comfortable Schedule a In-Home Assessment
Questions this raises:
1. Why would I want to take a safety walk among bathtubs?
2. How does a bathtub give me a comfortable schedule?
Here’s the corrected version:
Safety Walk-In Bathtubs – www.PremierBathrooms.ca – Easy Entry, Low Door, Comfortable. Schedule an In-Home Assessment
I’d take out most of the capital letters, too, but some people like them.
I saw a headline on a facebook ad today that made me do a double-take. It said “Stop Renting Girlfriend!” I wondered what kind of service this could possibly be for, then quickly realized that what the ad meant to say was “Stop Renting, Girlfriend!” It was an ad for a condo development. I’m sure they have nothing to do with the girlfriend-renting (or -buying) business.
Vanity Fair has taken a jab at Sarah Palin by setting its editorial staff to work on her resignation speech. The point of the excercise from VF’s perspective, of course, was to further hammer home a point that has been made many times already — the speech had some issues. I’m posting their work here because it provides an excellent picture of what editors do, and how much an editor (or three, in this case) can improve text. So whether you’re a Palin fan or not, if you’ve always wondered what editors do, take a peek at this link. How much could an editor improve your printed materials, scripts, or presentations?
I’ve posted before about the terrible grammar, spelling, and punctuation I’ve seen on signs. The problem does not seem to be going away.
Exhibit 1: The bizarrely specific
On the door of a fast-food joint, a sign read:
“No live animals allowed”
I’m not sure why they felt the need to specify that only “live” animals are banned. Perhaps dead ones are okay?
Exhibit 2: The wrong conjunction
My father spotted this on the garage door of his condo complex:
“Please ensure the door is closed when you enter”
If the authors of this sign have figured out a way to walk (or drive) through closed doors, the sign makes sense — and they should be marketing their discovery! I suspect, however, that they want residents to make sure they door is closed after they enter.
Exhibit 3: Just plain bad English
My boyfriend caught this one at our local drug store, next to a bottle of hand sanitizer:
“For customers use. It is recommended to sanitize your hands.”
This has three problems. One: a pretty nasty use of passive voice (“it is recommended”). Two: even if passive voice was appropriate here, it would still be wrong. The correct passive construction would be “it is recommended that you sanitize your hands” (rather than “to”). Three: “For customers use.” That should be “For customers’ use.” But why use three words when one will do? This sign should be rewritten as:
“Customers: Please sanitize your hands” or “Customers: Management recommends that you sanitize your hands”
Have you seen a particularly awful sign? Post your thoughts about it in the comments.
Like this subject line, which arrived in my inbox today:
Yak is bringing more jobs ot Canada!
Ot Canada, eh?
Yahoo! News: Entertainment News – Trump to buy McMahon’s home, let him leave there (AP)
Um, let him *leave* there? Surely enough, clicking through to the story reveals that, in fact, Trump will let McMahon *live* there (which is essentially the opposite of leaving).
Again, I must say that I understand Internet advertising may be an unfair place to go looking for grammatical and punctuation screw-ups. But still — I couldn’t ignore this ad:
What on earth does the person who wrote this ad think those quotation marks mean? Probably the same thing as the guy who wrote the sign I used to pass by at the skytrain station that read:
We prepare “fresh” food daily.
I’ll admit that Internet advertising banners are not necessarily expected to adhere to the strictest rules of spelling and grammar.
But surely if you expect me to have any interest in your “IQ Quiz,” you should at least know when to use “a” and when to use “an”… and that’s as far as I’m going to go in my linguistic analysis of this ad. Otherwise my brain might fall out.
As an editor, I am firmly opposed to using a five-syllable word when there’s a perfectly good one- or two-syllable one that says exactly what you mean, especially when it can make your meaning less clear.
So I offer my enthusiastic congratulations to the Local Government Association, a group that represents city councils in the UK, for their recent banning of 100 “non-words” that have recently cropped up in bureaucratic correspondence, but that baffle the general population — the very people these local councils are meant to serve.
Here’s an article from The Guardian that explains the move, and contains these insightful words from the association’s chairman:
Why do we have to have ‘coterminous, stakeholder engagement’ when we could just ‘talk to people’ instead?
Here’s a list of the top ten terms – with plain-English translations — from The Telegraph. My favourite?
Predictors of Beaconicity: Signs that a council may win an award
Of course. Who wouldn’t have understood that?