Before Hurricane Irene/English humour
After Hurricane Irene/English humour
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Pic via @Hellocreatives. Created by @willrolls
On the day that the BBC ran a story (you probably remember it) about how poor spelling is costing millions in online sales, I also came across a interesting kinetic typography presentation featuring Stephen Fry talking about language.
I’ll link to it at the bottom, 1] so you can read the rest of this post comfortably and 2] so we end on a more positive note because, let’s face it, worrying about little marks that come before and after ‘S’s and in between ‘N’s and ‘T’s is a tad anal.
But while Stephen Fry as ever makes a brilliant case, businesses do need to take more care about their copy.
I would say that, wouldn’t I? I’m a copywriter and so that’s how I make a living – by helping businesses talk proper/better/nicely.
And there are a whole lot of other important points to consider when it comes to your written communication, like clarity, interestingness and persuasiveness.
But you just can’t aim for perfection without caring about the basics, and so every business should be getting basic grammar and punctuation right.
My favourite (yes, you might call me a word geek, although I’d never use the word ‘geek’ to describe myself – it’s just too ugly) mistake I’ve seen is this:
The do’s and don’ts of...
I love it because people who write this make the mistake on the word ‘do’, but never do on the word ‘don’t’, presumably because it already has an apostrophe, as if one of the rules is ‘never, ever have two apostrophes in the same word’, which, by the way, you never should, it’s probably just that it’s so freaking obvious, there just isn’t a rule.
And today, almost unbelievably, but no less comically, the following two phrases are twitter trending topics:
A’s and B’s
You couldn’t make it up. Well you could, if you were really shit at apostrophes, which it seems a lot of people are.
Now I’m not really a snob. Really I’m not. I even like Dan Brown novels because I’d rather read a good story than a literary masterpiece (or does that just make me uncultured?). But I reckon businesses should really, really make sure their copy plays by the rules.
Why? Because you want intelligent people and people who care to have trust in your company – and why should they do that if you can’t even be bothered to write properly?
But then, I would say that wouldn’t I?
Now time to get inspired by language:
Unofficially, that is.
But even at 800m, it's not really an attempt at a world record.
More that the advertising hoarding in question runs around the outside of the recycling centre for Masdar City, one of the world's most sustainable developments - so you'd expect it to be big.
It's a bit of cheat because there's 'only' 400m of English copy, with 400m translated into Arabic (Masdar City, in case you haven't heard, is in Abu Dhabi).
Still, it was fun to work on and while Masdar doesn't pump out much pollution, it does generate some pretty impressive statistics.
For example, the aluminium the city commissions in its own build produces just 12% of the carbon emissions of the regular kind.
I could go on, but no amount of copy I write here could compete. Who said long copy was dead?
More on the Masdar story