Several years ago, an article in an airline magazine, “Nouns Gone Bad,”really hit home with us.
It discussed the phenomenon of using nouns as verbs, and the growing prevalence of this practice.
A recent tweet (on Twitter) reminded us of this ever-growing trend …
“There is a poor grammar jesus bumper sticker collection on a van. I want to at least ‘Sharpie‘ it so it makes sense.”
You may know that a Sharpie® is a marker made by Sanford. Many professional athletes (and other celebs) use these markers for signing autographs. The pens have many other uses, and we confess to having what must be one of the largest collections of Sharpie® pens around (all colors, widths, point-types, and styles – literally, in buckets in the office). But we digress …
There is an interesting paper called “THE ENVIRONMENTAL STYLE” that was written in 2005 by R.P. Detwiler, NASA Office of General Counsel, in which this trend is addressed. Detwiler uses the examples: partner, team, dialogue, and task.
Recently, we called out an error in a TV ad and online catalog for Hanes t-shirts. The mistake we pointed out is “… a collar that lays flat…” in the voice over, and “Lay Flat Collar” in the product description.
We fired off an email to the copywriter (at the ad agency) who wrote the spot for Hanes. We thought you might like to be privy to the response we received from the ad’s author:
“I appreciate the catch. But I have to say that we knew what we were doing when we sent it out the door. The product had already been named. And, honestly, grammar doesn’t mean much in advertising. What sounds better is more important. And the ‘Lie-Flat Collar’ doesn’t sound too hot.”
Now, this is too bad. Even though we have mentioned the incorrect use of lay in our Lost causes? post, it doesn’t mean we’re going to let the subject lie.
We disagree that grammar doesn’t mean much in advertising. We have more faith in consumers than to expect them to tolerate poor grammar. And, while we do agree that what sounds better is important … for all of our fans who think good grammar is “hot,” we disagree with the statement that “… the ‘Lie-Flat Collar’ doesn’t sound too hot.”
We think it’s a shame that there are those who promote poor grammar and perpetuate the nerve-grating sounds of these language rules broken, especially in advertising to a public audience.