What You Will

Another Burma Shave billboard on the information superhighway. Random thoughts about arts, faith, culture, music, language, literature, and the shortcomings of the Hegelian dialectic. (OK, just kidding about that last bit.)

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Location: Edmonds, Washington, United States

I wonder what goes in this space?


I eat dead people

There are typos, and then there are typos.

Picture if you will:

You're sitting at a fine restaurant where you've just polished off a meal that was delicious but, as every good meal does, left you wanting more. You think to yourself, "A restaurant as lovely as this must have some simply scrumptious goodies for afters." So you ask your waiter, who replies, to your utter shock and dismay: "Why, certainly, sir—we have a wasteland full of corpses for your dining pleasure."

If that sounds farfetched, it isn't. I was perusing the Seattle Weekly a few days ago when I noticed an ad for a dinner-theatre event that included a reference to "decedent deserts." As you know, gentle reader, a desert is a wasteland, and as you should know, a decedent is a deceased person. The event being advertised was beginning to sound more like a Donner party than a dinner party.

The hapless copywriter responsible for this ad was, of course, trying to tempt readers with a reference to "decadent desserts," which would have sounded a lot more appealing. Of course, the primary definition of decadent is "marked by decay or decline" (as in, The fact that people can't spell the word decadent, let alone use it properly, is one sign of the decadent state of our language), but the copywriter was trying for the trendier "characterized by or appealing to self-indulgence." At least I hope so, because I don't want to eat desserts marked by decay or decline any more than I want to eat dead people.

This particular combination of misspellings was new to me, and surely, I thought, it was unique. But then I Googled it and discovered the same horrifying phrase on several Web pages, including this miserable, steaming heap of verbiage promoting, of all things, the Holland America cruise line. Here's the offending sentence.

Premium cuts of beef, a variety of pasta dishes, as well as decedent deserts, including baked Alaska, are also offered.
Gee, if you ever get past the proliferation of clauses, the missing conjunction, and the passive voice, you might be bothered by the misspellings. I, for one, have never been tempted to take a Holland America cruise, and I am even less tempted now.

So, folks, let's be careful out there, especially when considering what sweets to enjoy after your meal at a dinner theatre or on a cruise ship. Or better yet, let's be careful when writing about it.


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