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Another minor discourse about the idiosyncrasies of labelling and signage.

First out of the hat. Electronic indicator board at a bus stop I walked past this morning.

‘System under test.’ Well, bully for it, and I do hope it’s bearing up under the strain. Is it asking too much for the powers that be to test the system by transmitting useful information in real time. Such as ‘Service due in 14 minutes.’ That might be a good test, don’t you think? Or is it just me being unreasonable? I might be. I wasn’t waiting for a bus. But I had been, I’d want a bit more information.

I like this one. It’s off a bottle of ‘Sicilian’ red wine in the Co-Op. It says ‘Indicazione geografia tipica.’ My Italian isn’t too hot, but even I can translate this. ‘It comes from round about Sicily.’ This is confirmed by some small print that says ‘Red wine of Italy.’ So this particular bottle has probably never seen Sicily in its life.

This is pretty typical of the Italian sense of resignation to the vicissitudes of life. They have a wine classification system similar to the French, but they’re a bit more fatalistic about it. Denominazione Controllata approximates to the French Appellation Controllee. But the Italians are terribly realistic. They know someone is going to be using sharp practices to pass wine off. So they have another tier of classification, Denominazione Controllata e Garantita. You don’t need me to translate that for you.

It doesn’t make much difference anyway. It’s either drinkable or it isn’t. The French caught a cold a few years back when some of their Appellation Controllee wines were shown to be blends. Guess what? The wine snobs didn’t notice! So why bother?

Here’s a good one seen in a local government office. ‘If you need a translator, please ask.’ There’s a flaw in the logic, here. I think it’s admirable that the service is available, but the execution is a bit bandylegged, isn’t it? As is the other offering. ‘This leaflet is also available in Braille.’ Hmmmm.

Here’s an odd one from my local library. There’s a section of shelves marked ‘Teen Zone.’ Fine. I think I can guess where they’re heading here. But the books all carry stickers marked YA, meaning Young Adult. Why not call them all the same thing? Go on, answer me that.

Back to packaging. I once bought a sandwich in a shop, and said bready comestible was pre-packed. I know, but I was hungover and very hungry. Anyway, here’s what it said on the packaging. ‘Packed in a protective atmosphere.’ What the manufacturers meant was that all the air had been purged from the pack with nitrogen, hence extending the shelf life. But I prefer the version I saw. It conjured up images of rooms full of carefully trained sandwich social workers running support groups. ‘There there. No need to be afraid. It’s all going to be fine. Of course nobody hates you. We all think tuna mayo with gherkins is a great combination!. Let’s have a group hug! Come on everyone slice of you! Big hugs!’

It is me, isn’t it? Nobody else thinks that way, do they?