She-She Nail Spa, West Portal Ave., San Francisco
Pink awning, two feminine pronouns: definitely girly. So what’s the problem? Just this: I’m almost positive that what the owners were aiming for was chichi, the French word that’s pronounced “she-she.”
Chichi is both a noun (“frills” or “pretentiousness”) and an adjective (“precious,” “over-elaborate”), although you’re more likely to hear English speakers use it as a modifier meaning “fancy”: a chichi nightclub, a chichi boutique. The word has traditionally connoted artifice and affectation, although that may be changing: The online dictionary Wordnik gives “chic and stylish” as one definition. (Wordnik also gives a wonderful usage example from a 1994 Newsweek article: “But a fad New York jewelry line using old bottle caps may be the first to mix P.C. with chichi.”)
It wasn’t only “She-She” that fascinated me. I’m perfectly OK with sentences that end with prepositions—and you should be, too—but “Blow Away Prices Of” is just peculiar. Am I supposed to read it as “Blow Away Prices Of Waxing Packages” and mentally switch “of” to “on”? Well, I didn’t. Instead, I had unsettling thoughts about waxed packages.
Finally, what to say about “50% Off and Up”? Does that phrase indicate that I might sometimes expect a discount greater than 50%, or does it mean some “waxing packages” are half-price and for others the price goes up? Earlier this year, Language Log discussed a similar instance of “mathematically annoying advertising”—the phrase “up to X and more,” where X equals some number—but I searched in vain for guidance on “X% Off and Up.” At She-She, it appears, we’ve departed the realm of mere mathematical annoyance and ventured off and up into quantum confusion.