Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Assassinating the King's English

The King's English is actually a book on grammar that was published in 1906 by a pair of brothers. Of course today, when one mentions "the King's English", it's usually a reference to long-ago times in England when proper use of the language was standard fare. Sadly, these kinds of references are more common now than ever before as shallow-thinking individuals wage daily war on our beautiful language.

Nowhere is this disturbing trend more evident than in names of stores and businesses, and the convenience store is particularly culpable. Around the Dallas area is a chain of 7-Eleven copycats called "Qwik-Mart". Let me ask the obvious question: does misspelling "Quick" bring in more customers? I really doubt that old Larry and Martha, driving down the thoroughfare, needing a loaf of bread, actually pick out "Qwik-Mart" over all the rest of the competition because of the cutesy way "Qwik" is spelled!

I visited Amarillo, Texas once and was immediately taken aback by a particular chain of stores named, "Toot 'N Totem". There are so many problems here, almost too many to mention. First of all, there's no consumer study that I'm aware of that points to greater consumer spending if you blatantly abbreviate "And" to the almost obscene "'N". And the use of a Northwestern American Indian icon like "totem" to substitute for "Tote Them" is a dastardly deed. The name of the stores should be, "Toot and Tote Them". On the other hand, the whole concept is lacking. The stores' business would probably grow if the place were simply named, "The Store".

This morning, I passed an apartment complex with the name of "Majic Apts". Again, was there a bean-counter in a Wall Street office who suggested to management that there would probably never be a vacancy if "magic" were spelled "majic"? I doubt it. It was no doubt some proprietor's crazy idea...thinking that "majic" added a little pizzazz to his otherwise roach-ridden apartments. So wrong!

Perhaps the most egregious treatment of the King's English is a chain of liquor stores in Dallas with the scalp-scratching name of "Bi-Lo". "Bi-Lo"!!!! Where do I begin? We all know "bi" has nothing to do with "buy", and, in fact, has other connotations that really confuse the issue. "Lo" is a wonderful word ("And lo, I am with you always, even to the ends of the earth"). But it has no use in the title of a liquor store! "Buy-Low" sends a clear, concise message, far different from the brain-scrambling, intellect-abusing "Bi-Lo".

I can only hope this country is strong enough to survive both Obama and deliberately misspelled convenience store names.

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