02 June 2009

Benefit of doubt

This billboard has recently appeared on the New Plymouth Fire Station, part of their nationwide campaign to cut back on the number of cooking-related fires. I'm at odds as to whether it's a shocking indictment on the state of spelling and grammar in current-day New Zealand or quite brilliant advertising creativity.

Of all the billboards and signs in and around town at the moment (and as anyone who has driven into New Plymouth from the airport recently can attest, there a an awful lot of them), it's the only one that anyone can remember, and certainly the only one that I've had cause to discuss with more than a few people (even if most of those discussions start for the wrong reasons).

I'm keen to run the 'thing of brilliance' line, as I'd imagine the Fire Service has a fairly limited advertising budget, and redoing signs is an expense they don't need.

Will be interesting to see if it gets amended any time soon.


Cheryl Bernstein said...

I reckon that 'you're/ your' is an error that's soon going to stop being considered one and become customary usage, except by pedants such as myself. I see it all the time, particularly from people born say after 1980. I really cringed when I saw it used recently in notices made by a student teacher for my son's new entrants' classroom. But somehow I didn't have the heart to point it out: my bad, I just didn't fancy sounding like a crusty old BBC-inflected pedantic windbag-cum-smartarse. (Had enough of that in my former professional life.) I just pretended I hadn't noticed it. Which is of course much harder to do with a massive billboard.

While I wouldn't give the Fire Service's ad company the benefit of the doubt on the ironic intentionality of this one, maybe equally they could be considered language pioneers? 'Your' is definitely the way of the future.

tinks said...

Possibly, but it's still wrong.

I think text (sorry TXT) language is having/will have a far bigger impact on the future of our language. Witness TV2's new abbreviated self-promotion adverts as an example, or an email received from pretty much anyone in their mid teens.

At the end of the day though, people have noticed and remembered the billboard - pedants and otherwise - if only for its jarring wrongness.