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  • Writer's pictureLiz Totton

What is In A Name?

Butt Sweet Shop in beautiful downtown Abu Dhabi

God Help the Butt Sweets Shop! Could this unfortunate name possibly be impacting its business? But, what is in a name?

Some of the names of the stores here in Abu Dhabi have me either cringing at the ridiculous translations or rolling on the floor laughing; others are just plain weird. I sometimes think the storekeepers just decide that they want to call their new store something in their native tongue and then take that name to Google Translate for a cheap (free), quickie translation into English. Most of you probably know that language translation is not that easy. Well, it turns out that you do indeed get what you pay for. Many odd store names leave me wondering the age-old question What is in a name? A lot, I think.

Opening soon is a relative term in the UAE

Places “Opening Soon,” that may never open at all, ever.

Our complex is brimming with new shops just waiting to open up for us residents; you remember the eagerly anticipated Circle K, right? There are more stores here reportedly “opening soon” than there are stores open yet. Well a few new venues have just posted their “opening soon” signs–none of us here are holding our breaths. “Opening soon” is intentionally vague, and “Soon” is apparently a relative term. One person’s “soon,” say in New York City, has passed before you can even utter the phrase. Here “soon” seems to mean maybe or possibly never; in the same way when a westerner hears “Insha’Allah” or “No problem,” they know to forget about whatever they were told was going to happen; it’s just not gonna happen.

Me & Only Man Spa. No Ladies Allowed. Don't worry. I am not going in!

Me & Only Man Spa. No Ladies Allowed. Don’t worry, I am not going in!

Getting back to shop names and poor translations, I looked up the other day and, lo and behold, two new shops have been added to our complexes’ swelling list of places opening soon: Blue Rabbit Dry Cleaners and Me & Only Man Spa. I kind of wanted to get excited and then I realized that it was just another ‘man spa’. Why so many ‘man spas’ here in the Emirates? I don’t know. Seriously though, this place is absolutely pioneering that territory where so few dare to go elsewhere: manscaping. I will soon research and attempt to answer probably no one else’s pressing question: why the burgeoning manscaping industry here and why now? This bold investigator will get back to you licketdy–split because enquiring minds want to know, right?! I just need a man to go in. My husband won’t. Any male volunteers?

In defense of the Me & Only Man Spa, kudos for avoiding that uniquely Middle Eastern linguistic trap altogether: Salon vs. Saloon, and just going with the term “Spa.” The phenomena of the Beauty Saloons here in the UAE should be fodder for another blog. I think I have perhaps blogged about this odd and pervasive misuse of the word “Saloon” before a little, but not in any kind of depth. It is very odd how common this mistake is.

I want to be very clear about something here that no one seems to fact check here, like ever:

Salon – “a stylish business establishment or shop (as in a “beauty salon”)

Beauty Salon, not a Beauty Saloon

Beauty Salon. You know the place.

Saloon – “a place where alcoholic drinks are sold and drunk over a counter; a tavern”

Western Saloon, nothing remotely like a Beauty Salon. I repeat nothing.

Western Saloon, nothing remotely like a Beauty Salon. I repeat nothing like a Salon.

I would almost really like to tell them that this use of the word “saloon” is just plain wrong, but it makes me ROFL almost every day, so I might just keep mum about this instance of Jenglish/Engrish. You really need a sense of humor here. If you have a few moments and you also relish the odd misuse of the English language, check out this site: Engrish. It’s so funny!! I submitted “Butt Sweet Shop,” because Abu Dhabi has absolutely got to be on this fun linguistic map! Please share your favorite, local Odd shop names–I can’t have seen them all!! I know there are more and better ones 🙂

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