Friday, October 31, 2008

UK Retailer Tesco Now Grammatically Correct

The U.K.'s largest retailer Tesco has bowed to pressure from those lobbying for the use of good English and have altered checkout signs reading "ten items or less" in the interests of being grammatically correct. From now on, signs in new stores are to say "up to 10 items" after a long running argument with those who have objected to the use of the word "less" in that context.

See previous CD post on this topic

Thanks to MjMaddox


At 10/31/2008 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

T-shirt for the grammarians in the crowd

At 10/31/2008 10:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sign might be grammatically wrong, but it's clear what it means. Would the "Up to Ten Items" include 10 items or mean no more than 9 items?

What appears as improvement sometimes is really not. Be very careful with your complaints. I can envision a waste of money for signage here.

At 10/31/2008 11:28 AM, Blogger stevedp86 said...

If they wanted to keep it the same it would be: "10 items or fewer", b/c it can be quantified.

At 10/31/2008 11:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

True, stevedp86. The way it was there(and is in most places I know of here) mean I could take 9 1/2 or 6 3/4 or 2 12/17 items to the checkout. :-D

Although, I'm with seems like a waste of money to change the signs just for that. I think "up to 10" is clear enough (if I tell my students they can do "up to 5 extra credit assignments" it's pretty clear I mean they can do as many as 5 of them).

At 10/31/2008 11:52 AM, Blogger bobble said...

LOL, at least someone didn't try to pass a law about sign grammar

At 10/31/2008 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

jrich: It's not that simple.

If an employee can have up to 3 days off work without being fired, can he or she be fired on the third day of missing work? I'll stay with the 3 days or less (even though it should be fewer) because it's crystal clear that the 3 is inclusive.

Lawyers, HR staff, and union reps make a living at quirks such as this in terminolgy.

At 10/31/2008 2:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a semantics issue...3 days or less, up to three days. Just because some companies and/or unions (depending on who's writing the thing) are arbitrary about the meaning of the terms, that doesn't make the terms themselves bad our not useful. That's a reflection of our over-litigious society (and being overrun with attorneys) and not a problem with the language.

I see your point though and in a case where I was signing a legally binding document, I would want it to be as clear as possible like you point out. In which case I would either write it or want it written to include two or three variations of the same information. (Again a product of an over-litigious society, but a reality of our world.)

At 10/31/2008 3:29 PM, Blogger Jen said...

I only wonder when they'll bow under the pressure of enforcement. I for one can give a rats rear end if I have 15 items and end up in an express lane - should I pull two carts and put 9 items in one and 6 in the other saying I need separate receipts?

It never ceases to amaze me the amount of time and energy that can be spent on particular issues - at least this issue was resolved. Wonder how long the process actually took.

At 10/31/2008 3:52 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Will this little grammer problem be fixed before or after the Brits turn little used churches into gyms?

At 10/31/2008 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The grammar debate is pointless. Everyone would understand the following simple sign:

Express Lane
10 items

No one would say, "Oh, I can't use that lane because I only have six items!" Adding "less than 10" or "up to 10" or "10 or fewer" is unnecessary.

At 11/01/2008 9:19 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Sorry to y'all but grammar ain't determined by rules, but by use. Despite that grammar nazis seem to know so much about grammar, they fail to grasp that grammar changes. "Ten items or fewer" sounds terrible. I guess "Up to ten items" sounds ok, but with the most important word "ten" being buried in the middle of the sentence its a worse way to say it. "Ten items or less" is still the best.

At 11/02/2008 7:10 AM, Blogger Thomas Coolberth said...

"Sorry to y'all but grammar ain't determined by rules, but by use."

Sorry, but there are those of us who do not want pay heed to the latest ebonics euphemisms, for instance.

There are grammatical rules, major ones and minor ones. To put it in terms that surely you understand: "qweryergfghdj hsdhc ighdh d cigc dcighdcgc dcdgh!!! DFHFH D aqiw dhHIGHSC 357 kkwi."

At 11/02/2008 8:34 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

"This is the sort of nonsense up with which I will not put!!"
- Winston Churchill --

At 11/02/2008 8:36 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...



You may find this thread from over on Chicago Boyz blog of interest, regarding the rust belt and causes thereof.

At 11/02/2008 8:43 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> What appears as improvement sometimes is really not. Be very careful with your complaints. I can envision a waste of money for signage here.


Anyone else remember the old
WALK -- DON'T WALK pedestrian crossing signs?

They replaced 'em with the hand and the walking figure, because, supposedly, some people could not read English and didn't understand them?

I dunno about where any of you are, but around here, such signs now have, on the post itself where the walker is standing... you guessed it... written instructions detailing what the stupid icons mean.


I hope and believe you are all capable of mentally adding the extreme derisiveness of my intended tone, directed entirely to the geniuses who decided "WALK/DON'T WALK" wasn't sufficiently clear enough, when I type:

"You F***ING --idiots-- !!!"


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