Verbal Abuse

Commercialised spelling mistake?

While the ruthless encroachment of the English language (particularly into the media and advertising sectors) continues unabatedly, there is some positive news to report from Germany: The apostrophe is seeing increasing and correct usage.

A few years ago I ranted about a certain “premium snack” manufacturer’s omission of the possessive apostrophe. Combined with a poor choice in kerning and typography over and above the very name and logo, it looked like they were selling ursid excrement.

I recently noticed that the packaging had improved from this –

Teddy Shit

– to this:

This is the new hit

Well, that’s one taken care of.

Another oddity I did see on a truck several times but which never launched its online presence was this less than confidence-instilling choice of name: (“Bad” is German for “bath”, as in bathroom).

Living up to its name indeed

Here’s another company, guilty of the same sin.

Does Donnie Darko moonlight as a plumber?

That’s what happens when two languages combine and create a Frankenpidgin monstrosity named Denglish. This Wikipedia page describes the phenomenon and includes a few good examples. Traditionalists and language purists, naturally, are aghast while conspiracy theorists might see this as a natural step towards the inevitable destruction of the German language thanks to the influence of American TV and the interwebz.

In keeping with the zeitgeist, it can be expected that they’ll soon realise how the term Shitstorm (capitalised as a one-word noun) is not appropriate for TV or corporate newsletters and perhaps one day they’ll stop the awkward habit of re-titling (not translating) movies like Miss Congeniality, Deadfall, and Copycat into Miss Undercover, Cold Blood, and Copykill respectively so that Operation: Kingdom and Passwort: Swordfish can remain known by their prefix-free names.

Another of my favourites is Groupies Forever. Never heard of it? Of course you have, but probably as The Banger Sisters. Equally bewildering is that the (originally South African) beauty product Oil of Olay is marketed locally as Oil of Olaz.

Oh well, everyone does it to some degree.

South Americans even go as far as translating song titles on English-language records!

Erhmm, no! This is not the real thing.

Then there was the time when North Americans couldn’t understand Mel Gibson’s thick Aussie accent, and if a role calls for a British actor, then it’s clear that he’s the baddie.

Language, art and capitalism strange bedfellows make.

Happy Halloween!

Photos and screen capture by hmvh DOT net, Faith No More record scan via


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