Friday, 25 April 2008

Inaccurate Speech In A Medium-Sized Grocer's

I looked up 'wont' in my dictionary and it means 'custom.' Thankfully, it appears I used it correctly in my last post, so that's a relief.

I was amused to hear a young chap break off from his mobile phone call in the Sainsbury's Local across the road and ask the cashier "Can I get 20 Benson & Hedges?" My understanding is that that request is normally reserved for transactions in coffee shops.

Anyway, the cashier said yes, but then picked up the cigarettes himself, which, strictly and accurately speaking, is not what the young mobile phone chap asked.

The young mobile phone chap was asking if it was physically possible for himself to take a packet of 20 Benson & Hedges from the shelf.

The only honest reply from the cashier should have been "In theory, yes, but it is company policy to discourage customers from walking behind the counter."

Ideally, the customer should have asked, "Please may I have 20 Benson & Hedges?" But I imagine he would not have found that sufficiently cool to impress the person at the other end of his telephone call.

So he had to use a form of words he has probably heard in the TV programme Friends. It probably made him feel a little bit like Chandler Bing, but more sexually successful.

In a way I pity him, but in another way I despise him.


stormywhether said...

Traditionally I hate to be the harbinger of irony but all this talk of 'get' and 'may have' brings to mind the input of a blogger not too far from these shores who misappropriated semantics in recent hours.

But in many ways, his crime of lexicon was more gruesome.

In a post entitled "Vote Boris..." this 'syntaxical' terrorist (I don't even CARE if that's a word, I'm that fraught) said, and I quote:

"Reg Holdsworth off of Coronation Street"

How can someone be 'off' and 'of' simultaneously? Was he festering? Had he literally fallen away from the tarmac on which he was previously stood.

Methinks someone should not stow thrones in grass houses, to quote the punchline of a gag legendary in the Haitian colonies.

Howard Devoto said...

Love your work, BUT the expression "off of" was the comic creation of Viz comic in the 1980s (viz - Latin used with intended pun - "Keith Chegwin off of Swap Shop" or, the variation, "Marti Pellow out of Wet, Wet, Wet").

Thus subsequent use of the phrase is an unconscious tribute to Viz and the excellent work of its writers who deliberately played on the misuse of grammar.

stormywhether said...

Ok point well executed and understood, but let's take this a little further down the road of unlikeliness.

Say that chap who was in visiting grocer mode, had intended to render a grammatically incorrect statement as an ironic subjugation of 21st century society. He may, therefore, be vindicated and our assumptions sour.

I'm still furious that they're holding back on the London Mayoral Election results. It's Robert fucking Mugabe's fault.