Normally, rants about the declining standards of English are reserved
for the likes of the Daily Mail and the Telegraph hang ’em and flog ’em
brigade. These go on about how spelling, grammar and punctuation are no
longer taught in schools and that under-35s are not equipped with the
basic skills to get them through life.
Unfortunately, these thunderings from the newspaper icons of decency are
true. Especially when it comes to copywriting. Some of these wordsmiths
seem to have been taught English by the local greengrocer, whose
‘tomatoe’s’ and ‘cauliflower’s’ have been burned into their brains.
Bradford and Bingley’s recent poster campaign was enough to make any
sub-editor quake. ‘Why are womens’ shirt buttons on the wrong side?’ was
one blatant example. Why do these mistakes go so far down the line
without anyone spotting them?
‘Cashback’ seems to be a copywriter’s invention. And this peculiar
compound word seems to double as a verb and a noun depending on where
it’s placed in a sentence. The latest Renault Megane poster ad offers
you ‘pounds 500 cashback’. Still, the Megane’s ‘voice’ in the TV ad does
conjure up a ‘dahn the market’ Reg the Veg who might offer you 20p
cashback if you buy an extra pound of his banana’s.
When howlers like this are brandished in front of the general public the
actual message of the campaign is obscured.
Of course, when challenged about their dodgy English, the defendants
insist it’s all part of the evolution of the language. Bollocks. It’s
Send your rants to Belinda Archer, Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Road,
London W6 7JP