cloth bags and t-shirts

Spotted recently, a cloth bag with the English words

Please to gently to earth

and a t-shirt with

Minimum satisfaction

‘Please to gently to earth’ is ungrammatical. The smallest possible fix is ‘Please go gently to earth’, but it’s an unlikely thing for anyone ever to say, not even an astronaut on the ISS farewelling a colleague returning to earth. A quick search online shows nothing relevant. The most plausible fix is ‘Please go gently on earth’, but an equally quick search online shows equally nothing relevant.

‘Minimum satisfaction’ is a grammatical noun phrase (attributive adjective + head uncountable noun), but it’s even more unlikely. No-one offers ‘minimum satisfaction’, even in a negative sense (‘We offer you (much) more than minimum satisfaction’). Possibly, a hirer of a prostitute might complain about the ‘minimum satisfaction’ he got. Google Ngram Viewer shows some results, but no context. The British National Corpus and the Corpus of Contemporary America English show no results.

With all the ‘real English’ available to be put on cloth bags or t-shirts, I can’t understand why anyone, even a manufacturer in Asia, would use ‘unreal English’. The nearest native English speaker is probably as close as the nearest university.


2 thoughts on “cloth bags and t-shirts

  1. Please to gently to Earth

    My best guess (and it is only a guess), is a major misinterpretation of something along the lines of
    Please treat the Earth gently or even, and more likely, This bag is biodegradable. When I throw it away it will treat the earth gently


  2. Possibly, except that it doesn’t read like ‘translationese’. I’m not an expert on translation errors, but I’ve seen enough to know the kinds of errors that are more or less likely to happen. I’m quite prepared to accept that I’ll never know the rationale behind the wording.


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