03.09.09

The Awkward Adverb: Got People?

As confusing tax forms flutter about The Awkward Adverb's office, our eyes glaze over and our minds wander over to H&R Block's cloying slogan, "You got people."

I got people? Who talks that way? Tom Hanks' and Meg Ryan's computers told them "You've got mail," not "You got mail." We suppose the tagline is meant to sound casual, but it comes off as odd and forced, like a dorky dad mangling his teenage daughter's slang. It also raises unanswerable questions such as, Where did I get all these people? And when will they stop sleeping on my couch? Most importantly, it makes consumers wonder why they should trust their taxes to a company that, in its defining statement, shows a disregard for professionalism and accepted standards.

Although H&R Block hasn't entirely abandoned the tagline, which was introduced in 2007, it seems to have become embarrassed by it. Surf through the company's website, and the sentence is hard to find. When announcers do slip the phrase into broadcast commercials, they say, as any native English speaker naturally would, "You've got people."

ABOUT HENRY ALPERT
Henry Alpert,the secret identity behind Action Copy, discovered his writing powers when a radioactive bookworm bit him on the hand at a young age. Before going solo many years ago, he reported for an Asian daily newspaper and taught writing at esteemed universities. He's earned a Master of Fine Arts and has worked on staff at a New York financial trade magazine. In Mr. Alpert, the creative and analytical unite to create one powerful writer. Mr. Alpert currently lives a mild-mannered existence in a quiet neighborhood of New Orleans with his wife, infant son, and dog.

ABOUT THE AWKWARD ADVERB
The Awkward Adverb is a monthly e-mail newsletter which highlights English-language flaws that have appeared on a sign, in print, on the Web, or anywhere in the public sphere. If you wish to subscribe to the e-mail newsletter version of The Awkward Adverb, click here. This link also contains archived entries.

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