I’m disturbed by the phrase “Click it or ticket” — the slogan for the recent buckle up campaign. It gets a lot of visibility here in Washington, and I know it gets the same in Pennsylvania, because WPEN always had Click it or ticket commercials during Phillies games this year, and I suspect a similar campaign is ongoing in many states.

I think the ad campaign is good policy — what bothers me is the abuse taken by the English language. In my mind, anything phrased as “A or B” implies that A is the same kind of thing as B, even if they may be opposites, as in “feast or famine” (noun or noun) , “sink or swim” (verb or verb) , “red or green” (adjective or adjective).

In the case of “click it or ticket”, that’s a verb phrase or a noun: not exactly a pair of complementary choices. I simply can’t hear this phrase without thinking about how wrong it sounds, which seems to defeat the point of the ads. Somewhere, some time ago, a marketing wonk decided that a catchy sound was worth whatever negative impact it might have on delivering the message. It may have euphony, but as far as grammar goes, its just phony to me.