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Thursday, June 27, 2013

"Hand me a Tums - I think I'm going to barf."

I was asked to settle a distpute this morning. A co-worker asked me what a single antacid tablet from the "Tums" bottle is called - a "Tum", or a "Tums"?

I thought for a moment and said, "A Tum." She frowned. "But it's a brand name," she said. I frowned, too. She is pregnant and I didn't want to make a wrong turn here and send her into a crying jag or an angry pregnant frenzy. "Good point," I said.

My mind went to work. "Did you Google it?" She hadn't, so I did. I turned to the World Wide Web, which told me that one should not singularize a brand name. I continued to frown. Though it proved her right - and I agreed in principal - it did not feel right to me. "Would you say 'hand me a Tums'?" I asked. "Yes," she said. "That's what I say."

I nodded.

Some things lend themselves to leaving the "S" intact without question. Like Schnapps. One would not ask for a shot of Schnapp. One would be summarily slapped by any bartender worth his salt - especially if the bartender was German. Aside from Schnapps, I cannot think of many trademarked brand names ending in the letter "S" that sound anything less than silly when spoken aloud when asking for a single item from its package. To whit:

  • "Yeah, buddy, a Fig Newtons sounds fantastic right about now..."
  • "My ear is clogged - hand me a Q-Tips, stat..."
  • "My Twinkies is a little light on the delightful cream filling..."
  • "The baby has shit himself - hand me a Wet Wipes! And get me a fresh Pampers!"
  • "I would like a Skittles, please - just one..."
  • I dropped an M&Ms - the rest are in my belly..."
I would like to think that my initial call was spot-on - World Wide Web and its grammar police be damned. As I have said many times, this is a time of change. Revolt is in the air - rebellion imminent. When I am duly elected King (again, apparently not eligible for Pope), we will have grammatical rules based in common sense, which is apparently not so common. While I do not wish to be slapped silly by a surly German bartender, I am equally adverse to sounding like an ignorant hillbilly when I ask for someone to hand me "a Wet Wipes".

Singularize when applicable, I say. And stay strong on the Schnapps.

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