Easy targets

English on clothing designed and manufactured in a non-English country and Microsoft Word’s grammar checker are easy targets for a blog post.

Yesterday I saw a young man wearing a jacket which read:


A well-known search engine returns about 89,800 results for playung (Did you mean: playing?) and about 2,530,000,000 for playing. Most of the results for playing seem to be a simple typo, i and u being next to each other on the standard keyboard.

(Of course, this jacket might have been designed and manufactured in a certain country where a certain well-known search engine is blocked, but any search engine should return similar results.)

An article I was subediting referred to “many food and drink products”. Microsoft Word’s spell checker suggested much food or many foods.

But the grammar here is “many (food and drink) products”, not “(*many food) and (drink products)”. Even if it was “(*many food) and (drink products)”, “(much food) and (drink products)” is only a small improvement. “Many food” is completely ungrammatical, while “much food” is rare. “Much food was eaten” is possible, but most people would say “A lot of food was eaten”. Much is used more in negative statements (“Not much food was eaten”) and questions (“Did you eat much food?”). Also, “(many foods) and (drink products)” is awkward parallelism.


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