Today is Festivus, the holiday “for the rest of us” made famous by Seinfeld and celebrated since 1997. Of the principal Festivus traditions—which include a bare aluminum pole and Feats of Strength—my favorite, naturally, is the Airing of Grievances. Here, for the third consecutive year, are my grievances, culled from a vast universe of commercial language violations. (Past Grievances: 2009, 2010.)
Grievance the First: Just about everything about this “poem” makes me cringe.
(Anthropologie December 2)
Specifics: 1. It’s “a-gifting,” with a hyphen, not an apostrophe. The a- prefix is a remnant of an Old English particle, ge-, that marked past participles. 2. ’Twas-ing is just as bad as ’tis-the-seasoning. 3. “All through our brand”? Yeccch. 4. There’s a missing comma after “We thought.” 5. Most grievously, if you’re going to parody a well-known poem, at least get the freakin’ meter right. UPDATE: As commenter Jan Freeman points out, the question mark should follow “near and dear” and not “be grand.”
Grievance the Second: Oh, goodie, Anthropologie again!
1. The meteorological phenomenon is “lightning.” “Lightening” is the opposite of “darkening.” 2. No hyphen in “aha.” In this case, a is not one of those Old English remnants.
Grievance the Third: L.A.’s Getty Center has a prestigious pedigree, an impressive collection, and a huge budget, but apparently not enough time or money to hire a proofreader for this mural in the museum’s restaurant.
Catch that? Drew at Back of the Cereal Box did: In English, “taste” is pronounced with a long A, \tāst\. On the mural, however, there’s a dieresis over the A, indicating a broad-A pronunciation: tahst.“One would imagine that the Getty would exercise enough curatorial control to ensure that the first line, at least, read correctly,” says Drew.
And no, “Taste” is not the name of The Getty’s restaurant. The eatery is called … the Restaurant. The more-casual café is called—don’t get ahead of me now—the Café. Oh, the missed opportunities.
Grievance the Fourth: Wand or Wang?
Get it straight, Saks.
Grievance the Fifth: Once upon a time, Saks Fifth Avenue stood for class and quality—for tahst, you might say. Nowadays I could devote an entire blog to the retailer’s sloppy copy. (See here, and here, for example.) This spelling error appeared in a print flyer. Yes, print. Where was the proofreader?
A peak is a mountain. A peek is a glimpse.
Hat tip to Jessica Stone Levy, who tweeted the photo.
Grievance the Sixth: This KFC Australia ad was created not by an assistant chicken-fryer’s nephew, as you might surmise, but by Ogilvy Sydney. Major client, major agency. Major mistakes.
1. Extra space after “Made from.” 2. Missing hyphen in “whole-breast.” 3. Superfluous comma after “breast.” 4. Misspelled “complemented.” 5. What’s up with that jittery typeface? (Via Copyranter.)
Grievance the Seventh: A special Cast-in-Bronze Award to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s development department, which should use some of its acquisitions to acquire a proofreader.
Snapped on a very public street in Ashland, Oregon.
Happy Festivus to all, and to all a good airing!
Here’s another take on the Airing of Grievances from As a Linguist, who asks, “When did it become so damn hard to wish someone a Happy Whatever-You-Celebrate?”