So three weeks ago I picked on Qantas for a spelling mistake on one of its wine bottles. Then last week I pointed out that the airline wasn’t handling apostrophes well. And now I feel compelled to point out an error on the signs explaining how to use Macs in Qantas Club lounges.
So let’s be clear: I don’t think Qantas is massively unusual in this respect. Linguistic sloppiness is a deplorable fact of modern corporate life. But because I fly frequently on Qantas, I’m exposed to these errors. What I hope for is that by discussing them, others can learn from them and not repeat them.
The big problem with this sign is on the very first line:
This iMac provides the user with a choice between a Windows or Apple Mac operating systems.
The grammatical issue is that “a”, which is singular, does not agree with “operating systems”, which is plural. The broader problem is the sentence is too long. Here’s a snappier and more precise way of saying the same thing:
This iMac can run either Windows 7 or Mac OS X.
Is this going to be fixed? I suspect not. For one thing, the date on this sign is 1 January 2011. More crucially, it appears that Qantas is soon going to be abandoning in-lounge Macs altogether, rendering that signage irrelevant:
And now I have to point out that this sign should say “we have a small number of iPads”, not “we have a small amount of iPads”. Accuracy matters.
Lifehacker’s Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.