Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
2 mins to read

Suggestive quote marks give MC Grammar the linguistic willies

Tue, 06 Jul 2010

MC Grammar’s Extremely Angry Pants are on – and Marmite is the culprit, with more linguistic nutbucketry than you can shake a phoneme at.

There I was, innocently taking some B vitamins and drinking a glass of water, while staring out the window at a boat in my backyard and wondering how it got there and who might own it (anyone fancy a spot of fishing?), when my eyes wandered to a jar of Marmite on the window sill.

Now, it’s probably not the done thing to store your Marmite on the window sill in direct sunlight, but we do live in Auckland, so chances of Marmite meeting direct sunlight are, admittedly, fairly low.

Anyway, on the label is the declaration: Marmite is a “meat free” product. “Meat free”? What’s with the unnecessary quote marks? And what sort of skullduggery do they imply? What sort of naughty caper is the black spread up to these days? Is Marmite simply meat free, or is it – nudge, nudge, wink, wink – “meat free”?

Irritatingly suggestive quote marks aside, whoever is in charge of Marmite’s packaging and labeling might like to know a little – wink, wink – hyphenation “secret”. If something is meat free, that means the meat is free. Kostenlos, as the Germans would say. If it’s meat-free, that means it is free from meat. (Or fleischfrei, if you were on board the good ship Deutschland and heading to Lederhosen Town.)

But putting our Sensible Pants back on for a moment, why on earth does Marmite need to declare itself to be a meat-free product? Strange perceptions! Those with a good mind for history might be able to recall an anecdote or two, and please share, if so.

I do remember as a child my brother telling me it was made out of dried blood from cow testicles, but then he also told me Santa Claus isn’t real, just a pervert from down the road with a beard on! Fancy! And we all know that one’s a myth, right? Exactly.

So I took MC Grammar for a little Google tour to find out about Marmite and its meat-free status. Apparently it’s always been meat-free – and has never even seen dried blood from cow testicles, let alone poked it on Facebook – but we can’t speak with such confidence about Sanitarium’s online proofing skills. If somebody from either Sanitarium or Saatchi & Saatchi could organize for the rogue apostrophe on this page to be fixed, MC Grammar would be eternally grateful.

And let’s just run through that age-old lesson once more. It’s = it is. Its = its.

Marmite, with its meat-free status, meets a German dictionary for fleischfrei fun.

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Suggestive quote marks give MC Grammar the linguistic willies