Inglish like wot its rote…..

Now I tend to be quite tolerant of wayward uses of English. Indeed, if they don’t invade my own space and cause life-threatening misunderstandings, I can be amused by what I see, especially by the road side as I pedal through this glorious country of ours. Now those of you who never had the doubtful benefit of a classical education (for better or worse, four of my ‘O’ levels were classical subjects), you probably don’t understand the meaning of the ‘genitive case’.  But not to worry……… will recognize its gross misuse (even abuse) in the following instances.

Motor mechanics and their scriptwriters have a particular problem with this:CIMG9240This rendering is so prevalent outside garages that you may begin to question your own understanding of the grammar. M.O.T.’s what……….., you might ask? But it’s not just motor mechanics:Everything go's

…..even auctioneers seem to have a challenge. Elsewhere, sign-makers don’t clearly distinguish between their past participles and prepositions:person passed this point…..and if you happen to stop for a loo-break, beware!toilet…..unless you are a disabled, elderly, pregnant child, you simply don’t qualify……..:(

During my recent ‘Heart of England’ cycle tour, I passed countless playgroups and nurseries (nearly every village seems to have one), all emitting a variety of ear-piercing squeals  and shrieks, and gentle encouragements from attendant adults. But have you noticed, they all have names that suggest that all 1-4 year olds (without exception) are just little darlings:angels

If not that, then this:Hedgehogs

…or this:Puddleducks

I could go on and on…….with “Little Adorables”, or “Pennies for Heaven” or “Tiny Tots”………..I’m sure you get the message by now. We all know why, of course. I mean, how would you attract customers with names like: “Little Yard Monkeys”, or “Sproglodytes’ Corner”, or even “Raucous Rug-Rats”. Yes, you’ve got it……it’s all about marketing and displaying a product’s USP (ie. unique selling point).

Whether angel or ankle-biter, every child is the apple of its parents’ eyes………………..(and all the while I’ve been writing this post, I’ve been worryingly conscious of my use, or misuse, of the genitive case!).


About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on June 30, 2013, in Aspects of Britain and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Frank, at least those nursery signs didn’t have the usual misplaced apostrophe. You’d have noticed on your recent trip here to Australia that plurals confuse. It seems to be the case that when unsure, stick one in (and especially where s is preceded by a vowel, but not always). I’ve seen some teachers’ reports on children, so can understand why our signwriters are semi-literate. There is much breast beating here about the deterioration in our education system but not a lot of will to improve it while there is politics to play. So ends a wet Monday rant by this old grump…..

  2. Peter Staples

    Some years ago, in Scotland, we saw the sign:

    “No car’s to the fall’s”

    And please don’t even start me on “it’s” …

  3. I love the concept of disabled elderly children, and would usually agree on not making too much out of it. I do try to draw the line at actually buying anything from someone who doesn’t know how to spell what they’re selling. Like Expresso’s, for example.

    I’m also rather fond of the misuse of the plural of bus, my favourites being “No Busses in Beach Road” and a van dealership proudly proclaiming “We Know Busses”. I considered going in and asking for kissing lessons, but never quite mustered the courage.

    • I’ve learned something here…… Chambers must to too old to list the alternative meaning of the verb ‘to bus’. (Now you might want suggest the dictionary should be “Chamber’s”……..but it isn’t. Interesting.)

  4. In my day job I’m an editor. I can’t help but get annoyed by misplaced apostrophes – it’s what I get paid for (among other things).

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