Wednesday, 16 February 2011

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING IN EARNEST

What's in a name, eh?  Apart from letters.  And numbers, if you're Fireball XL5, or a short, bald prat on a dating site.


Take my name, for example.  Now many of you might well be thinking thank goodness you're not saddled with the monica (or Monica) Nice Etoile, but if you look at it from another perspective, it's a relief when you consider my siblings are called Ugly Etoile, Paranoid Etoile and Dangerously Psychotic Etoile.  Suddenly doesn't seem so bad, does it?


One of the endearing things about living in a country where English isn't the native language (let's leave America out of this for the moment) is the fascination the population has for using foreign terminology, in which they obviously find a certain exoticism.


And what could be more glamorous than having the name Pudding over your shop frontage???  


This is a business close to where I live in central Nice.  So go on then, hazard a guess as to what this shop sells...sweet delicacies composed of the finest pastry, framboise and Creme Anglaise?  Imported traditional English desserts from Fortnum and Mason?  Hmm?


No.  Wrong again.  (I win!)  Pudding happens to be a second hand clothing agency.  Come to us to look like a pudding!  (Could be worse, they might make you look like Carla Bruni.  For which you would probably be able to sue).


A new chicken fast food place has opened in the main drag, challenging the stranglehold (sorry, unfortunate choice of term) of the established global players.  And how are they enticing people to eschew the familiar and give them a try instead?  By calling the place Chicken Spot. Must be some interesting conversations when they ask what piece of the bird the customer prefers.  (A pox on KFC!)


Conversely, it can be a sight dangerous to stick to your own language when setting up shop in a foreign land.  When I lived in England a new Chinese takeaway opened in my area.  I watched in anticipation as they gutted the premises, installed thousands of pounds worth of professional kitchen equipment and plastered the place with shiny tiles.  Finally, after a number of weeks, the shop sign was erected - big red letters, 3 feet high:-


Wan King.


Business was inexplicably slow to start off with - until somebody helpfully let them in on the probable reason.  And then they would have worked out that, whilst the set menus were a bit of a bargain, potential customers were possibly just a little cautious of ordering the sticky rice...




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