Double-take

Victor Steinbok found this on Google+ and passed it on to me; a great many sites have versions of it:

Note: These Tasty Crackers are Australian; the sale price is in Australian dollars.

Lots of people will do a double-take on seeing that sale sticker, which comes very close to offering tasty-ass crackers.

Of course, the ass here is just an abbreviation of assorted. Why didn’t these p;eople notice the tasty-ass possibility, involving the suffix-like extension -ass of adjectives (big-ass hair, etc.)?

One possibility is that the designers of the sticker just didn’t see what they’d done; if your intentions are clear in your own mind, you’re disinclined to read things as other people (the “innocents”) would. Goodness  knows such things happen.

But another possibility is that the extension -ass was simply unfamiliar to the designers of the sticker. My impression is that it’s an American thing (so that –ass just isn’t in the repertoire of most Australian speakers) — though it may well be that it’s now spreading among younger speakers outside of America. In any case, it’s a qauestion on which at least preliminary research can be done

5 Responses to “Double-take”

  1. Tom Says:

    In Australia, we prefer to say ‘arse’, though I would expect most people to be familiar with ‘ass’.
    (Interesting variation on the grocer’s apostrophe, too.)

  2. Piers Kelly Says:

    Because we consume a lot of US media, Australians are mostly aware of the meaning of the -ass suffix in terms like big-ass. But I’ve never heard this suffix used in spontaneous conversation in Australia, unless the intent is to mimic/perform a “stereotypical” American. So I can see how this might slip under the radar of those preparing the sticker. Also “arse” is the more common spelling in Oz, though “ass” is beginning to catch up: http://blogs.crikey.com.au/fullysic/2010/05/06/ass-vs-arse/

  3. Victor Steinbok Says:

    Not having paid too much attention to Aussie slang, would they use the British “arse” where Americans use “ass”?

    By the way, the giveaway that it’s Australian is the “165G” on the sign and “Victoria” as part of the address on the cardboard box. If this were Canada, a French bi-label would have been required. That doesn’t leave a lot of possibilities.

  4. chryss Says:

    My take on why no one notices is a little different. Those stickers aren’t any longer designed as such, that is individually. They’re basically written by a computer program: Someone in sales/marketing management — either the local franchise owner or GM (after all, it’s the “manager’s special”) or in regional leadership decides on a list of products that are going to be discounted in this discount period (week? fortnight?). This person (if it’s a local special) or more likely else, maybe a junior marketing person, sits down in front of an inventory management software application, with some not-very-usable GUI, and checks off the right products in a long list, and then follows the current guidelines to select a sticker template (“manager’s special, please use the updated template 24 b”), which actually WAS designed at one point by a real designer. The template has embedded database instructions: First line, use field 124 of the product record, “manufacturer short name, 10 characters max”, second line, product type short name (field 54), or whatever. At one point along the line, when full names get shortened to whatever length might be needed, the rule “assortment –> ass” is applied.

    I’m sure there is SOME quality control is applied before a new template goes live, probably with a random selection of products, but for some reason the “ass” problem didn’t come up then. Those who see it in the store are not much empowered let alone encouraged to have opinions. For some reason, the manager doesn’t look or care.

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