Monday, July 21, 2008

Odd English-isms

The little girl at the swimming pool yesterday was very cute – maybe 3 years old with lots of baby chub and white-blonde hair. She had on the typical toddler uniform at our pool: reusable swim diaper and UV protective swimming shirt. I happened to glance up as she padded by me and read the word on her shirt. It said “Execute”. What the …?!?@!

Ever the politically-minded person, my first thought was that this was someone’s way of making a pro-death penalty statement that we should fire up the old electric chair and take care of that pesky waiting list on Death Row. Intrigued, I watched her to see what other interesting political swimwear the rest of the family might be sporting. Then I noticed her Mom speaking German to her, and a light bulb went off. They must have bought the shirt (cheap, I hope) in some non-English speaking country where they put odd English phrases on clothes.

I’ve always been drawn to nonsensical English on clothes or in marketing campaigns. Japan is the world master at this sport, but I used to see some good ones in my travels in Eastern Europe too. There are even websites (really funny if you have the time) dedicated to posting English manglings seen in Japan. Two of my favorites: “Poccari Sweat”, the name of a sports drink in Japan, and a phrase seen on a pencil case there, “Spanking! By thhe Sea!”

I wonder if whoever made the “Execute” swim shirt thought it would be clever to use a word that had “cute” in it on kids clothing. Maybe there’s a whole line of clothes like this that say things like “Electrocute” and "Accute”. If there isn’t, maybe I just got my first idea for my very own business.

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