“Range”

I heard a reference on a TV commercial the other day to the “Axe Peace Range”–Axe being a brand of men’s deodorant and such, peace being peace, and “range” being, as I dimly recalled once having learned, the British word for what Americans call “line” (as in “product line”) or “collection.”

To be sure, Axe is a product from Unilever, an Anglo-Dutch company, but my TV is in the U. S. of A., not England or Holland. Unilever’s (American) website notes:

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 10.21.32 AM

I couldn’t help noticing that this single page contains no fewer than six Britishisms, starting with range and the inverted commas in the screenshot above. The others: European date format, logical punctuation, and two different spellings. The first is organisation. The second is in reference to the advert where the Peace Range was first announced, on that quintessential American programme The Super Bowl.

Update: As reader Phoebus notes, below, I mistakenly described the Unilever site I saw and quoted. On the company’s American site, there seems to be only one Britishism. That’s right, range.

 

 

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11 responses to ““Range”

  1. I first noticed “range” in this sense more than a decade ago, when the British retailer Boden crossed the Atlantic with mail-order catalogs (and later a website). A few years later I took my puzzlement to Lynne at Separated by a Common Language, and she was kind enough to write a blog post in response: http://separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.co.uk/2007/01/range-and-collection.html

  2. Jillian Robishaw

    Yes, I’ve heard “range” on both sides of pond. I don’t watch QVC very often but I’ve heard it used very often on their shows. And in gardening catalogues.

    Jillian
    Sent from my iPod

  3. The use of BrE in AmE adverts is not erroneous, of course, but this reminds me of off-beat, and often amusing, mistranslations into English of Asian product manuals, typically for autos and electronics. Humor aside, when I searched the Internet for an example, what I found instead were articles that indicate that such mistranslations can sometimes have legal ramifications.

  4. “To be sure, Axe is a product from Unilever, an Anglo-Dutch company, but my TV is in the U. S. of A., not England or Holland.”

    And also, if your TV was in England the product advertised would be called lynx, not axe :)

  5. What does Mammon care for conscientious localisation?

  6. Your link is to Unilever’s global website which, understandably, uses British English. Their American website is at http://www.unileverusa.com.

  7. In Britain, it is not unusual for cosmetic companies to advertise their products on TV using American spellings. For example use of the word Color in female hair products. It may therefore be logical to assume it is a deliberate act to grab attention. I had wondered about the spelling of Ax, nevertheless what I have learned from this thread is that Lynx and Axe are the same product!! Well done unilever’s advertisers!

  8. There is something charming in the use of the indefinite article in “an Anglo-Dutch company” to describe the enormous international conglomerate Unilever.

  9. Having seen it in NZ and Ireland, Lynx appears to be the “Commonwealth” version, due no doubt to trademark issues.
    The Lynx adverts are famous for their tongue-in-cheek mock sexism ( directed by females, i should add ).

    e.g.

    Axe Peace Range kind of sounds a bit like where Red Indian tribes might gather and practise with their tomahawks.

  10. Also I think that it’s very easy to become confused

    “The General Motors range of cars ” is not the same as
    “The range of General Motors’ cars.” Which could in turn mean their variety or the distance which they can travel..

  11. Ah, the glories of polysemy! Ya gotta love it!

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