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A Language Lesson from a Whisky Bottle

Updated: Apr 2

A whisky bottle

My brother and I had finished two-thirds of this excellent whisky when he came down from the United States. After he left, it fell upon me to polish off the rest. I savored it slowly between Christmas and New Year, and during one of those sessions, I noticed the tagline on the packaging: "Born of Promise."

I was instantly reminded of the mistake in 3M's tagline "Borne of 3M Innovation," which I had blogged about in 2021 (see Too Much Innovation).

A relatively small whisky distillery got this right; a reputed multinational goofed up. What's the lesson in this?

The mistake is puzzling because a top advertising firm must have come up with the tagline for 3M. How did those advertising hotshots screw up? The tag line must have been intensely scrutinized by many pairs of eyes. Did nobody raise a red flag? It's hard to believe.

Or is 3M in the too big to fail category? It's not a mistake; 3M is cocking a snook at the grammar police in the spirit of Gandhian non-cooperation. By using the word borne in an "innovative" way, 3M is living up to its tagline.

A glass of whisky later, the prosaic explanation hit me: "There's many a slip between the cup and the lip."



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