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Posts Tagged ‘Language’

To shoppe or to shop

Whenever I see the word shoppe included in the name of a store, I wonder why they’re using that word instead of the more easier, shop. Merriam-Webster says that shoppe is basically the same as shop and that its etymology is “Middle English shoppe“.

The pronunciation is the same for both shoppe and shop, though the extra two letters makes me want to pronounce the former, shop-ee, and then elongate the ee sound. Also, at some level, it mildly irritates me to see that word being used. (Yes, I’m aware that I need therapy.)

I’m unable to figure out why people choose to use the longer spelling when the shorter one works just as well and is acceptable, unlike SMS-speak which is not. My guess is that the people who are using the longer word are doing so just to be different. If that’s the case, then it’s not a particularly creative way of distinguishing oneself.

Whatt doo youu thinkk?

P.S. Today I passed by a store that had a sign with the word Shoppy in it. M-W doesn’t have an entry for that word: I checked just to be sure.

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I was doing some shuffling, so I unsubscribed from a newsletter and resubscribed on their website. (Writer’s Weekly for all the cats who are curious.) After I entered my email address and pressed Enter, I was taken to the next page, where I encountered this message:

Thanks for subscribing to the newsletter.

Shortly you’ll get an confirmation email. It has the subject:

Your WritersWeekly.com Subscription Confirmation

and it will say it is from:

“WritersWeekly and Booklocker” (–email removed–)

In it is a link. Click on that link and you’ll be added to the list.

With the rise of spam filters, lots of legitimate email gets lost. Please keep an eye out for the confirmation email. It should arrive within a few minutes.

If you don’t get it within a few minutes, email (–email removed–) and asked to be added manually.

Perhaps this should not be a surprise because Writer’s Weekly is one of the finest sites for freelance writers and you’d expect them to write well.

Still it warms the cockles of my heart to see a message like this. I particularly like the bit about spam filters. You see, not all writers are tech-savvy, so pointing this out in a message is helpful, especially since the site’s newsletter has loads of subscribers. The tech-savvy ones can even ignore the message, they’ll know what to do anyway.

Simple, elegant, and clear–what all good design should be.

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I follow the English Premier League religiously and in our part of the world, ESPN and Star Sports are the channels of choice. They do a good job of keeping the football (soccer) fans in this part of the world happy.

If you’re like me and want to know the TV schedules ahead of time, so you can plan your weekend (pathetic I know), you have to click the TV Times link on the site. Then, select the country and the channel but when you come to the sport, it gets a little tricky. (Click on the thumbnail below to see what I mean).

Soccer by any other name...

If you want to watch football (which is what it’s called in this part of the world), you have to pick one of three options–soccer, soccer/futbol, and soccer/futsal. (There is an option called Football as well but I think that’s for the American football (NFL) games that ESPN telecasts.)

The correct option in this case (drum roll please) is door no. 2: soccer/futbol, something that I’ve found out by trial and error. It’s also something that I occasionally forget because it’s not so intuitive now is it?

Since ESPN-Star is a website primarily for the Asian region, maybe a bit of localisation would’ve helped. Using football to mean the kind of football played around here and American football to mean the kind of football played in the US would’ve been one way to avoid confusion.

And, if the terminology was consistent elsewhere on the ESPN-Star site, people would’ve gotten the message. It’s not. The menu bar near the top half of the page has an entry called Football. A lack of consistency, clarity, and unnecessary confusion means that the user will be unhappy.

These are problems that can be easily detected using simple usability tests. For websites which attract thousands of users it makes sense to do these tests, so you have to wonder why they’re not conducted.

Sometimes the ways of the developers and designers are mysterious to us common folks.

— Update: 30-Jan-2007 —

I was switching channels on TV today and came across a futsal match. It’s basically an indoor version of the regular football. You can learn more about it from Answers.com. I wonder why I didn’t check there earlier.

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This is not spam. Or, is it?

An email landed in my Inbox today letting me know about a program in Delhi and Singapore (I’m in Bangalore), without my asking for said information. At the bottom of the email was this disclaimer:

THIS IS NOT SPAM

This email is not spam. We follow the ‘US Unsolicited Electronic Mail Act of 2000’, which states that an e-mail cannot be considered SPAM if it contains contact/removal information, which this mail does.

It is a one-to-one correspondence between the company name edited out and its existing customers or prospects. IN CASE YOU DO NOT WANT TO RECEIVE ANY SUCH EMAILS IN THE FUTURE, PLEASE UNSUBSCRIBE BY send an email wtih the subject stating ‘Unsubscribe’ to email address edited out.

Now, the company in question operates in India. Why they would cite the US electronic mail act is beyond me.

Apart from the language errors in the disclaimer, the disclaimer seems to be a bit strange. My email address was “harvested” from other interactions I’ve had with the company; I did not agree to that. So, they take my address without my permission and used it to send me information I don’t want.

And, in the very act that the company quoted, it says:

(3) INCLUSION OF IDENTIFIER AND OPT-OUT IN UNSOLICITED COMMERCIAL ELECTRONIC MAIL- It shall be unlawful for any person to initiate the transmission of any unsolicited commercial electronic mail message to any person within the United States unless the message provides, in a manner that is clear and conspicuous to the recipient–

(A) identification that the message is an unsolicited commercial electronic mail message; and

I checked again. Nowhere in the email is it mentioned that the email was unsolicited. So, they’re not meeting the requirements of the act that they quoted and the correspondence is not one to one as the disclaimer mentions, but one to many.

What annoyed me was that they didn’t even provide a URL that I could’ve clicked to opt-out. I had to compose and send an email and I’m not sure if that will get me off their list. I hope it does.

Otherwise, I may have to try other methods.

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Break resistant

I have written about this before but I read something on a plastic bottle the other day that begged and said, “Blog this.” (Yes, I know it’s strange that I get messages from plastic bottles.)

One line of text on the bottle’s label read, break resistant cap. This means what? The cap will probably resist with all its might but in the end if it succumbs and breaks, it’ll say, “I’m sorry, I resisted bravely but the breaking force was irresistible.”

I suppose that I could try and break the cap but the bottle doesn’t belong to me and I’m not sure that it’d go down well with the people who provided the bottle.

If the word resistant were used with a qualification, i.e. it can resist a 200 pound weight, that’s fair. Simply using resistant without qualifying anything doesn’t feel right.

Maybe resistant falls into the category of weasel words in some contexts. I’m not against the use of the word or phrase per se, just against it being used in a weasel-like way.

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