Every journey throws up a few oddities, often in the most unexpected places. Having bought a pint of milk in a small garage food store, I realised I’d left my bike parked under this….
…and on the train out of Weymouth, I lifted up the loo seat to be confronted by this….
…a slightly edited version of which also popped up in one of the youth hostel loos….
…(using the now defunct English subjunctive) would that signwriters could always brighten up our lives, even when the message carries a finger-wagging admonition…
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………..you will recognize its gross misuse (even abuse) in the following instances.
Motor mechanics and their scriptwriters have a particular problem with this:This 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:
…..even auctioneers seem to have a challenge. Elsewhere, sign-makers don’t clearly distinguish between their past participles and prepositions:…..and if you happen to stop for a loo-break, beware!…..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:
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!).