Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

Toys for boys

with 10 comments

A Lego City
Image via Wikipedia

Have I been transported back to the 1950s? No, but the educational toy manufacturer LEGO DUPLO needs to be dragged out of them.

‘Big bricks for small hands’ announces its full-page advertisement – er, that would be small male hands judging from the ensuing copy. Apparently ‘creative play’ stimulates his mind and allows development at his own pace.  The ad uses the pronouns ‘his’, ‘him’ and ‘he’ at least eight times in the copy. No sign of a ‘her’ or ‘she’ getting their hands on all that exciting LEGO DUPLO stuff any time soon. Too busy playing with their toy cookers I expect.

And just because they’ve annoyed me so much, I’m going to point out that they’ve spelt ‘determination’ ‘dermination’. In an ad about educational toys.

Find out how to write gender neutral copy



10 Responses

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  1. I have this habit of finding errors in websites/ads/government ads and I do that so often! I often write to companies about their English errors!

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one Vikas!


      18/11/2009 at 9:49 am

  2. You know the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the recruiting body for the civil services in India still has chairmen (and not chairpersons) unlike my university departments! I had even written to them on this but they ignored it! In one of their past reports they have even addressed a female as chairman! Other government bodies like UGC and CSIR in India are also equally culpable!

    I look forward to embarrassing them in future (I’m doing a research on how the UPSC and the exam needs improvement). The exam and the commission, by the way, is a British legacy just like many aspects of Indian administration!

    British colonialism was also useful for our country though it harmed us in more ways than one. Our educational and legal institutions (modernisation) owe a lot to our British colonisers and it is an important topic in our History or Public Administration subjects.

    • Hi, Vikas — I am so glad you are pestering the powers that be! Your comments are always so interesting and it’s always great to hear from you.


      18/11/2009 at 9:54 am

      • P.S. I meant to say that the only time I believe it is appropriate to refer to a ‘chairwoman’ as a ‘chairman’ is if the woman in question states that this is their preference. This does happen — sad (in my opinion) but true.


        18/11/2009 at 9:56 am

  3. Err, typo! Comma (,) is missing after India in the second line!

    • Yep — well spotted. It’s an easy one to miss though (I didn’t see it straight away until you pointed it out). Your English is very good.


      18/11/2009 at 9:59 am

      • Nah, my English need many improvements but it it good just the same! I have even attempted learning the dictionary by rote but gave up. I am no more mad about vocabulary.

        • I’m learning all the time too. I think you were right to give up trying to learn the dictionary by rote!


          18/11/2009 at 10:08 am

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