Weird English Shop Signs, Part 17: All-Parisian Edition

This Is Not Just Any Boutique

April 1, 2020By David JaggardC'est Ironique!
I want a name that will make my shop stand out, a name that says, “There’s no other boutique like this one in all of Paris!” Oh! I’ve got it!
I want a name that will make my shop stand out, a name that says, “There’s no other boutique like this one in all of Paris!” Oh! I’ve got it!

A note from David Jaggard: As France and much of the world endures a lockdown to slow the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus, I’m sure that many Paris Update readers are, like me, thinking back to a happier, more carefree time.
Ah, life was so pleasant back then. I could leave my apartment without having to prove that it was necessary! I could stay out as long as I wanted! I could buy hand sanitizer! And toilet paper! And, best of all, I could wander all over town looking for ridiculous uses of English in Parisian shop signs…
This article was originally posted on July 25, 2016.

I love to make grandiose, pompous predictions. Especially if they can never be proven false within my lifetime. Here’s one: I predict that the English language will evolve nearly beyond recognition within 269 years.

I picked that number because it’s half the amount of time that has expired since Chaucer published “The Canterbury Tales” (1478) in the nearly foreign-looking language now called Middle English, and I figure that exponential progress in global communication will at least double the speed of future linguistic evolution.

For better or worse (worse, according to me), English is on its way to becoming the world’s common language. The fact that so many non-native speakers use it — not to mention the influence of textspeak, the disappearance of copy editors and the sad fact that people who say “nucular” are allowed to have children — will unavoidably lead to extensive changes. At the very least, spelling and grammar will no doubt be greatly simplified.

This isn’t a complaint. Language change is a natural and perpetual process, and any attempt to prevent it would be about as successful as trying to stop teenagers from finding porn on the Internet.

So by 2285, this web page and everything within clicking distance will be as quaint-looking and semi-intelligible as ”Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote” seems to us now.

Thus, faced with the inevitable demise of my native tongue as I know it, I see only one sensible course of action: to make fun of as many ill-advised English shop signs as I can before it’s too late.

As explained in previous installments of this recurring feature (part 16 contains a link to part 15, which contains a link to part 14, which contains a link to part 13, and if you wonder what part 13 contains you’re probably pronouncing “nuclear” wrong), a lot of French businesses pick an English name in an attempt to look with-it and international. But they often end up looking out-of-it and irrational.

When it comes to choosing English trade names, the French are:

Paris shop sign
Spotted by reader Jake Dear. Who also spotted the next one.

Some of the names they pick are rather, shall we say, uninspired:

Paris shop sign
I don’t know about you, but when I buy footwear I want to know that I’m getting real, genuine shoes. Not those fake things that turn out to be made of papier mâché once you get them home.

Some are meant to sound exotic, but don’t:

Paris shop sign
Ah, yes. Ohio. Where all the trendy, sophisticated fashions come from. (Spotted by reader Margie Rubin.)

Some are meant to rhyme, but don’t:

Paris shop signs
In fairness, this does rhyme in French. Sort of.

Some are apparently meant to conjure up images of The Old Sod, but don’t:

Paris shop sign
It serves pizzas and hamburgers. Traditional Irish fare.

And some just make you wonder what the hell the owner was thinking:

Paris shop sign
Remember what I said about the unavoidable simplification of spelling and grammar? This vintage fashion store on Rue de Lancry is doing its part.

Some business owners succumb to the temptation to make puns. Horrible, horrible puns:

Paris shop sign
Next door is a shop called Charlize Theroad.

And many have a special fondness for juxtaposition. Any two English words, logic notwithstanding, can be mashed together in a French shop sign:

Paris shop sign
This eatery’s website explains that they “feast on wilderness” and that “the moon is our synchronized sister.” So it makes sense after all! To someone.
Paris shop sign
“Atelier” means “workshop.” And “&” means, “We don’t know what ’hot dog’ means.” (Also spotted by reader Margie Rubin.)

Like the previous example, some signs can’t seem to make up their minds which language they’re in:

Paris shop sign
“Sourçils” means “eyebrows.” Which is what I raised when the employees saw me outside taking this photo.

Some try (and more or less fail) to evoke contemporary buzzwords:

Paris shop sign
Well, it is indeed a place where you can feed your face. (Spotted by reader Damien Serban.)

Some are frankly alarming:

Paris shop sign
Apparently the key word here refers to “coffee beans.” Which is only slightly less alarming.

And some are just plain weird:

Paris shop sign
Oh yeah? Well you can kiss my namaste! (Actually spotted by me, but photo taken by Jake Dear.)

It is a matter of public record that I love living in Paris. There are many reasons for this, 15 of which appear in this article.

So when people ask me if I would ever move anywhere else, I give them a two-word reply. The first word is “move” and the second word is:

Paris shop sign
Once again, spotted by remarkably observant reader Margie Rubin. Who must be one of the very few people whose dinner guests actually look forward to seeing their vacation photos.

Readers who have time on their hands and can’t get enough dumb English signs can find all 22 installments of this regular feature here.

An album of David Jaggard’s comic compositions is now available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music, for purchase (whole or track by track) on iTunes and Amazon, and on every other music downloading service in the known universe, under the title “Totally Unrelated.”

Note to readers: David Jaggard’s e-book Quorum of One: Satire 1998-2011 is available from Amazon as well as iTunes, iBookstore, Nook, Reader Store, Kobo, Copia and many other distributors.

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