Corporate & Institutional Communications / English / Marketing & Advertising

So what

So What?

So Ouest – Home of a fine prawn sandwich

To general rejoicing from Parisian Brits, Marks and Spencer is opening a superstore just a stone’s throw from CELSA. So Ouest shopping centre opens its door on 18 October and I will be first in line to stock up on chicken korma, almond naan bread, farmhouse cheddar plus prawn mayonnaise sandwiches in granary bread. (Incidentally, read here about a pr disaster concerning prawn sandwiches from the boss of another British household name).

So far so good, but So Ouest? The weirdly-named mall is an example of bizarre English usage flooding into French marketing.Why shove an unnecessary and often incorrectly-used English word into a French phrase that was perfectly happy beforehand? Points of the compass just can’t be SO anything. It’s as meaningless as saying ‘a little bit west’ or ‘nearly south’. For a detailed analysis of strange English language use, have a look at David Jaggard’s very funny columns.

Just a stroll down my high street produced an array of evidence. First a baffling display of mixed numerals and languages from Yves Rocher. ‘7 jours, 7 looks. Make up days’. What is a make up day? A whole 24 hours for excited consumers to try on their cosmetics? Or a general exhortation to be nice to your enemy and resolve your quarrels? Then there’s Monoprix, telling us, ‘Mascara scandaleyes show off Rimmel. SHOW DEVANT’. Which just doesn’t mean anything in any language. And Gap, who should know better as they are an English-language company, telling us to Be Bright. Perhaps referring to the purple pom pom on top of the uneasy-looking model. For decades, English-speaking countries have used and misused un soupçon of French to give a hint of foreign sophistication. Now the boot is on the other foot, and the results need a little fine-tuning. Step forward a new generation of CELSA-trained communicators, who really know how to use English.

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