bringing the losing battle to the snack shack:

23 10 2008

(or: what we talk about when we’re too tired to mark any more papers tonight without writing bitchy comments)

assuming that link still works when you look at this, that is a box of wheat thins. the packaging has been updated visually since this picture was taken–if you have wheat thins in your cupboard, they look a leeeetle different–but the writing on the front of the box has not. the writing on the back, like on all cracker and cereal boxes in the short-attention-span-theater era, changes all the time.

on the back of the wheat thins box at my house are two pictures of other wheat thins boxes, one parmesan basil & the other… eh, i forget what flavor the other inter-product advertisement is for. not the point. the point is, the captions beside both of these alternative flavors are worded like so:

“Parmesan Basil Wheat Thins is the perfect blend of Parmesan and basil on a cracker!”

the committee in charge of the back of the box of wheat thins has clearly decided that “Wheat Thins” is a brand name and should be talked about in the singular. the front of the box, however, just like in that wee-tiny picture, still says:

“Wheat Thins Baked Snack Crackers”

(the relationship of large to small font makes it really hard for me not to type a colon between the “thins” and “baked” in that line–i’ve been in academia too long, i know) but “baked snack crackers,” on the box, is clearly the restatement of what the title represents, & the committee in charge of the front of the box seems to have decided that “thins” is plural and matches logically up with “crackers,” not with “cracker.”

on one side of the box, “wheat thins is” is grammatically presented as correct; on the other side of the box, one can clearly expect “wheat thins are“–as in “wheat thins are baked snack crackers.” i used to wonder why my students have trouble knowing what grammatical forms to agree with what other forms and have no sense of consistency in the guesswork they do on matters such as these. i don’t think i wonder anymore.

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8 responses

24 10 2008
ovrclokd

*giggling* i ❀ you so much… also, have you considered that you may have spent just a wee little smidge too long in academia? πŸ™‚

24 10 2008
ovrclokd

*giggling* i ❀ you so much… also, have you considered that you may have spent just a wee little smidge too long in academia? πŸ™‚

24 10 2008
jijnasa

I don’t know that crackers necessarily has to agree with things here. There is no sentence, merely two phrases, one of which elaborates upon the other. So it’s possible that the intended meaning is “COMPANY NAME: product description,” which would not require cracker and thin to agree with one another.

24 10 2008
jijnasa

I don’t know that crackers necessarily has to agree with things here. There is no sentence, merely two phrases, one of which elaborates upon the other. So it’s possible that the intended meaning is “COMPANY NAME: product description,” which would not require cracker and thin to agree with one another.

24 10 2008
robotapocalypse

Also they live in a world that has restaurants containing posters like this:

Of the five opportunities for apostrophes, four are used incorrectly. The problem might be mitigated if there appeared to be a rule governing usage in play β€” we could be descriptive grammarians instead of prescriptive grammarians β€” but there is no pattern in the usage. It’s just random insertion of punctuation that probably passed through several layers of corporate approval before it ended up on the wall of the restaurant for me to photograph.

15 11 2008
tyra

hey, is that your highest res version of the moe’s pic? I can’t really read the apostrophes (or lacks thereof) in the small print–but I want to put it on the overhead & make my students correct it. πŸ™‚ I’m hoping you have one that will be easier to read, though, so that I don’t have to go out there and re-photo it myself (which i’m not likely to do, considering the time factor and the length of my to-do list)…

15 11 2008
tyra

hey, is that your highest res version of the moe’s pic? I can’t really read the apostrophes (or lacks thereof) in the small print–but I want to put it on the overhead & make my students correct it. πŸ™‚ I’m hoping you have one that will be easier to read, though, so that I don’t have to go out there and re-photo it myself (which i’m not likely to do, considering the time factor and the length of my to-do list)…

24 10 2008
robotapocalypse

Also they live in a world that has restaurants containing posters like this:

Of the five opportunities for apostrophes, four are used incorrectly. The problem might be mitigated if there appeared to be a rule governing usage in play β€” we could be descriptive grammarians instead of prescriptive grammarians β€” but there is no pattern in the usage. It’s just random insertion of punctuation that probably passed through several layers of corporate approval before it ended up on the wall of the restaurant for me to photograph.

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