An everyday tale about queuing for chips, abstract nouns and clear language… Queuing up for something to eat outside a popular south London chip shop recently, I glanced around to look at the other shops on the same parade. There was the usual array of fast food outlets, barbers and supermarkets that you’d expect to find on any urban high street. One shop caught my eye though, even though it was closed. The fact that its shutters were drawn down was not particularly unusual. It was the shop signage that startled me. The shop was not, in fact, a shop. It was a salon. The Le Sorelle Unisex Salon to be precise. As the queue for chips slowly nudged forward, I wondered whether it was a hairdressers or a nail salon. There were no other clues what went on behind the shutters. The rest of the sign made me smile though. It proclaimed: Satisfy the taste of your wellbeing A wonderful collection of words Maybe the author or shop owner did not speak great English (hence the salon’s French name). Perhaps something had got lost in translation? I read it again…and again. It’s a wonderful collection of words and it certainly rolls off the tongue. The problem is that it does not make much sense. I kind of knew what it was trying to say but it just did not sound right. Abstract nouns At ProseWorks we are not purists. We believe language is fluid and flexible. It’s there to convey and communicate meaning…and we’d be the last people to promote or uphold dated views on correct usage. Even so, sometimes a bit of grammar does go a long way. The sentence makes no sense because wellbeing – being an abstract noun (not a real person or object) – can’t taste a thing…not even the delicious chips I was about to consume…not a sausage. Wellbeing can’t taste. This made me think. What should the shop owner have instructed the signwriter to write on his shop front? Satisfy your wellbeing? Pursue your wellbeing? Indulge your wellbeing? They might not have the same pizzazz as the original but at least they are clear. They say what they mean. Sometimes keeping things simple works the best. As I moved forward in the queue my mind reverted back to the bag of hot chips fresh out of the fryer that had just been thrust in my hand. I paid up and walked out of the chip shop, juggling hot chips between my teeth to stop my tongue and mouth getting burned. It was a tricky manoeuvre but when you’ve got hot chips you want to eat them as quickly as possible. They definitely satisfied the taste of my wellbeing…if you know what I mean! If you’d like help making your messages clearer, contact the experts at ProseWorks.