I'm all for correct spelling and good grammar - both of which are sadly in decline thanks, in many cases, to mobile phone texting and internet chatting in general.
I make lots of mistakes of course, but hopefully know when to use they're, there and their for example. Simple stuff but it's so annoying how many get it wrong.
So what about good old plain English ? You know. Lets not use lots of big words when simple ones will do.
At least that's what I always thought was meant by plain English.
Clearly the 'experts' at the Plain English Campaign have a different agenda.
Tesco, the largest supermarket chain in the UK, have a few checkouts in each store for those customers who only have a few items in their baskets. And as a single person often buying a few basic items, God bless them for it.
How many items ? Well about 10 items, since you ask.
Therefore the signs over these checkouts have stated "10 Items Or Less" for years now and I wasn't aware this was a particularly complicated or confusing request.
We've all been behind people with a lot more than 10 items in their baskets but these people are only making use of the great British attitude to such violations as they know they'll get a few tuts at best and a long stare or glare at worst.
But that's not to say these selfish bastards have misunderstood the sign or reckon that it can't possibly apply as it's patently ambiguous. No, they're (not their or there) just selfish bastards.
Enter The Plain English Campaign. This august body has decided that the word 'less' should not be used in this instance. According to them, 'less' is correct only when quantities cannot be individually counted - as in "I would like less water". When quantities CAN be counted, then 'fewer' should be used - as in "fewer than 10 apples".
I'm not sure what is more amazing here. That this bunch of nothing-better-to-do experts have complained about this to Tesco or that Tesco have taken heed of them and are going to change all their (not they're or there) signs. Yes they are.
The best part is that Tesco are going one step further, or is that backwards, by making the signs even more precise, if that was needed.
Not for them a sign stating "10 Items Or Fewer" or even "Fewer Than 10 Items." Oh no, that would be too easy. And maybe confusing. Or controvertial. Or something.
The new signs, being phased in at a Tesco store near you (well in the UK at least) will state.......
............drum roll please....................
"Up To 10 Items. Selfish Bastards Please Use Other Checkouts."
Well no, I added that last bit. I know. You guessed that already.
The Plain English Campaign are known as language watchdogs. Well watch this then : sod off you bunch of hairy assed fuckwits.
There. I've insulted them in less than 10 words. Or fewer. Well up to 10 anyway.