The illiterates are winning

I’m sorry to say I’m no longer surprised by some of the language used on signs in or on business establishments.  This morning I visited the Pickering Town Centre (I needed coffee filters – the world isn’t safe until I’ve had two cups of coffee in the morning) and, since I had time before my bus arrived, I went to Tim Hortons.  If you’re not reading this in Canada, you may not be familiar with “Timmy’s”, so I’ll explain.  Tim Hortons (they dropped the apostrophe years ago – yet another example of the title of this piece) is a Canadian chain of donut shops.  The name comes from the founder, a former hockey player first for the Toronto Maple Leafs and then the Buffalo Sabers, Tim Horton.  While waiting to place my order, I noticed a sign above a stack of plastic trays.  The sign read “These trays are the property of Tim Hortons and are not to be removed from the premise.  Thank-you.”  Umm, did anyone consider consulting a dictionary before having this sign made?

The Oxford University Press dictionary, part of my WordPerfect programme, has the following entry for “premise”  premise >noun (Brit. also premiss)  1 Logic a previous statement from which another is inferred.  2 an underlying assumption. >verb (premise on/upon) base (an argument, theory, etc.) on.  The word whoever was responsible for the sign really wanted was “premises”, which the same dictionary defines as: premises >plural noun a house or building, together with its land and outbuildings, occupied by a business or considered in an official context.  I can only presume the person writing the sign was not aware of the existence of such animals as plural nouns.  Since this Timmy’s is just a single location within an indoor mall they assumed that as a single location, it must be a premise.  Sorry, but that premise was wrong.

Can anyone tell me when “thank you” became a hyphenated word?  I mean, I went to school around the middle of the last century and back then I’d have lost marks had I dared  hyphenate “thank you”. Has grammar changed or degenerated that much? Or is this an example of someone attempting to demonstrate they know how to use punctuation?

I haven’t been to Oshawa in a while, but there is, or was, a sign outside a restaurant on the main street.  I don’t think I’d want to eat there though.  The sign listed their offerings – everything from “salards” to “deserts”.  Hmm, one sounds terribly fatty and the other sounds as if it might be too dry to be enjoyable. I think I’d rather go to Timmy’s.

To business owners I say, please keep in mind that signs in and on your business may be the thing that creates people’s first impression.  I’m certain I’m not the only person left in the world who cares about proper spelling and grammar.  And a sign with mis-spelled words or incorrect words may be enough to convince me to spend my money elsewhere.  The same thing applies to websites.  A site filled with spelling and punctuation errors and, once again, mis-used words is less likely to induce me to visit and buy from that site or store.    If you run a business it is in your best interests to make certain any signage is correct.  It can go a long way to making your business a success.

To my readers, enjoy the rest of your week and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.


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