Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Multilingual Shirt Tags

You know how in recent years, you will buy something at the store, and it will be labeled in English and Spanish. Or in English and French. Makes it a bit puzzling, and sometimes rather cramped with all that extra print on there. But I've learned to live with it.

Until I bought a tee shirt which has shirt tags (plural) in five different languages.

You know how a tee shirt has a little tag inside the back of the shirt collar— or, well, a tee shirt doesn't have a collar, but you know what I mean— and on this little tag it gives the size, and washing instructions, and maybe also "100% cotton," and "Made Wherever."

Well, this tee shirt I got has not one but two tags inside the back of the, uh, collar. Two huge tags. One tag is nearly three inches long. The other tag is four and a quarter inches. Huge tags, they tickle the back of my neck, a perpetual penance when wearing this tee shirt. But it's all worth it, you see, because on these two huge tags they've managed to cram all that information in five different languages.

In English. In Spanish. In French. In German. And even, God preserve us, in Portuguese.

In Portuguese: what are they planning on doing, selling these shirts in Brazil? Couldn't they have tagged shirts destined for Brazil separately? I mean, it tickles on the back of my neck.

And the different languages are much more widely spaced on the tags than they would have to be— well, of course, it looks as if it was all spaced and formatted by computer. With lots of extra needless white space. Makes sense.

And then in addition to the five languages, they give various little incomprehensible "international" hieroglyphics, which I can only interpret as, "don't refract light through a prism," or "martini, shaken, not stirred."

These shirt tags are to me a good symbol of what's dysfunctional and out of order in our bureaucratic, designed-by-comittee modern era. Don't make things for human use, don't make things according to a human yardstick, and whatever you do, don't resort to common sense. No, do everything according to abstract, senseless, inhuman principles, emulate the burgeoning regulations of the European Union or the IRS, and leave humanity to cope with the resultant mess as best they can.

Besides. Those oversized shirt tags tickle the back of my neck. I'd cut them off, but then I'd have to answer to the Mattress Tag Police.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Portuguese is the big foreign language you hear in my neck of the woods, but funny for it to be on a product of that sort. There's probably less Spanish overall than Portuguese here. And we don't have the Chinese concentration in southeastern MA that there was in Quincy, where Chinese is the primary foreign language you'd hear, and a lot of the store signs are bilingual English/Chinese.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 7:49:00 AM  
Blogger Richmond said...

Oh good grief! How big is the tag?? 3" x 5"??

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 12:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the tags are so large because they're part of the value proposition: "By buying a t-shirt with huge tags in 5 languages, I am proving that I am a sensitive, Euro-sophisticated blue-state person, which means that I am good and kind to children, kittens, flowers, and other growing things".

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 7:29:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Burgess said...

Yeah, I think that's about what it amounts to: these shirt tags are sort of like a scapular of the multicult.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007 1:51:00 AM  

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