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As a journalist and the daughter of a teacher, I have always been on the lookout for grammatical errors and misspellings. I try not to come off as superior when I point them out; it just bugs me. Like an itch you have to scratch.

So, in traveling around Ghana, I’ve found lots of signs that have caught my attention for one reason or another. The same thing happens in the United States, but I think that their use of British English makes it more amusing to me.

American Influence

Whether it’s based on an American company or named after a state, I’ve seen a lot of American influence in the naming of businesses. There was a ‘Best Buy’ in downtown Accra that I wish could have been the real thing because my computer has been shutting off whenever it wants lately.

But complaining aside, I’ve also seen a ‘Michigan’ tire store and several shops with California in the name. In addition to the KFC that just opened in Osu, I saw a ‘DFC: Delicious Fried Chicken’ nearby.

Walking through Cape Coast, we were trying to decide where to eat when I saw that Tako Bell Breakfast was an option. Somehow I had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to order my usual soft tacos.

Unfortunately the store wasn't open, otherwise I might have bought some cinnamon crisps. Photo courtesy of Kevin Riddell.

Religious Influence

As I pointed out in a previous post, another source for store names is the religious world. There have been too many to keep track. Often times they start with ‘By His Grace’, ‘God’, ‘Yahweh’, etc.

I'm curious as to whether that's his name, or if he is that skilled.

The one that interested me the most so far, because of its intensity, was ‘The Blood of Jesus Bicycle Shop’. The employees sound very dedicated to their work.

Thesaurus, anyone?

With all of these similarities it must (literally) be difficult to make a name for your business. That’s why I’m pretty sure a few people have turned to their dictionaries and thesauruses in an effort to separate themselves from the pack.

For instance, maybe you’d like to send your kid to the ‘Peculiar Children’s Academy’? I guess I’m just used to the definition meaning ‘odd’, but it also implies that someone is unique. So I’m thinking that’s their angle.

Extra emphasis

On the highway back to Accra I was reminded many times of the fact that speeding is common in Ghana. Signs had been erected encouraging drivers to slow down. They read: overspeeding kills. While that is true, I think the root of the problem is speeding in general, never mind overspeeding.

A billboard advertising a brand of medicine used the same tactic of overemphasizing. It claimed that their product ‘kills it dead’. They are not messing around.

Almost right

And, lastly, there have been a few things that are simply misspelled. Common mistakes, but in some cases it’s important.

Take the backpack that was for sale in Tamale: ‘Brillent Child’ was stitched onto the back of it. In French that translates to ‘Shine Child’, which is also an encouraging message.

Another sign advised people to ‘except God’. It’s okay, though, because that’s a commonly misspelled word everywhere!

When it comes down to it, who am I to judge? I make mistakes, too (I probably did somewhere in this post). We all do. I guess my point is that it’s important to be able to recognize your mistakes and, sometimes, find the humor in them.

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