Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Higher Calling

From my living-room windows I can see the that sign. When the shop opened two years ago, Turkish Delight actually went in to point out the superfluous apostrophe. He knew the proprietor after all, the former waiter at his favourite pizza place a few metres up the road. However, "il patrone" did not seem to mind and blamed the printers for having messed up. Yeah, right.
The "gratuitous-apostrophe-phenomenon" is a severe problem in the German-speaking world and there are several websites devoted to it, such as this one. It definitely is one of my grammatical pet-hates. As Austrians (and Germans) somehow associate apostrophes with being "English" which of course equals cool, they very nonchalantly sprinkle their words with as many apostrophes as they can, no matter if the hapless orthographic victims are German, or English as in this case.
Apart from the interesting plural, I find the name of the shop very funny in its own right. I mean, "United Calling" sounds very pompous and the odd pairing of "calling" and "flowers" is rather unusual. The shop is in fact one among zillions of call-shops/internet cafés offering competitive (long-distance) phone-rates, a vending machine for soft drinks and a couple of computers with internet access. The floral part is probably a tribute to the fact that a flower shop used to be on the premises until the former proprietor retired (much to my regret). Hence, "United Calling with Flower's" caters to home-sick immigrants who don't want to be ripped off by Telekom Austria or who don't own a computer with internet access as well as to people who fancy rather sad-looking (I've been there) flowers and potted plants.
When we first spotted the sign, my friend P. (who until recently lived on the same street) and I went into false-apostrophe-overdrive and exchanged e-mails making up bizarre shop names all day long. It sounds better and even more pompous in German, by the way: "Vereinigtes Telefonieren mit Blume'n". Love it.
I have the suspicion that both name and logo are an allusion to "United Colours of Benetton", which is odd as I daresay the Italian clothes imperium has somewhat lost in coolness since the 1990s. But who knows, it might still be the dernier crie in the call-shop-scene.
Or, possibly, the proprietor wanted to lure soccer-mad youngsters to the premises, suggesting that (Manchester) United was calling them with flowers? No, make that flower's.
Purchase(s): None so far and I probably will be good today as I'm planning to restrict my luch-break-roamings to an excursion to the nearest Hofer.

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