True Gripes: Krazy Katastrophy: Why do we allow such verbal massacres?

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The Independent Online
Nothing drives a pedant krazee/knutz/kleen round the bend like the 'kooky spellings beloved of high street shopkeepers - Kwik Save, Krazee Prices, Kleen-Kwik.

As you will have noted, these irritating neologisms tend to involve an over-enthusiastic and indiscriminate use of the letter K. Why? What harm has the letter C ever done to anyone? Why does the retail establishment insist on addressing us as if we were a nation of disc jockeys? There are two possible explanations. Either there are an awful lot of clapped-out Radio One types who have fallen on hard times and made new lives for themselves as hairdressers, dry cleaners and kebab merchants, or it is a marketing ploy to woo the proletariat. Presumably, the idiosyncratic orthography of the Kool Kutz and the Speedy Kleens is a jokey informality, a kind of salt-of-the-earth, 'we may not know how to spell, but by God we know a bargain when we see one' mateyness.

I am not an unreasonable person. I enjoy the time-honoured green-grocers' custom of placing superfluous inverted commas round descriptions of produce. I like to muse on the true identity of the vegetables masquerading as 'potatoes', but I would pay a small premium for the pleasure of having my clothes cleaned and my hair cut in the way Webster intended.

At the risk of sounding like Malcolm Muggeridge at his most curmudgeonly (curmuggerishly?), I fear the rot set in with rock 'n' roll. After that one casually elided phrase, the deluge: nice 'n' easy, sweet 'n' low, chicken 'n' chips, Gog 'n' Magog. Soon retailers were constantly vying among themselves to find the most witless manglings of innocent words and phrases: Spud-U-Like (no, I don't), Bargains 4 U, and the daddy of them all, Toys 'R' Us (the R is written backwards just to push people like me over the edge).

The latest creeping menace is the fad for large supermarkets such as Marks & Spencer to mark their low-calorie foods with the frenzy-inducing description 'lite', as if the word couldn't wait to shed the weight of its excess consonants.

It has been pointed out that I, not the retailers, have a problem, that I will end my days holed up, Miss Havisham-like, with crumbling, yellowed Fowler's, scribbling demented letters to newspapers about the misuse of the fine old word 'gay' or perhaps running spelling-bees for the bewildered.

So be it. We are teetering on the edge of a cataclysm. And it is spelled with a K.

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