A key can open any door

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Laura74xxx

New Member
Italian
Hi everybody!

I need your help here :) - I work in a clothing company and we are dealing with some new print developments. I'd like to know if this sentence:

"A KEY CAN OPEN ANY DOOR"

is correct from a grammar point of view and if it can be used in UK/USA markets (I've been told it might be offensive for English speakers, but really cannot understand why!).

Can anybody help?

Thanks
Laura
 
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Hello Laura74xxx. :)

    What are you doing with this slogan? Are you going to print it on clothing?

    It is grammatically correct, but it is difficult to know whether it is appropriate without knowing what it is for.
     

    Crockett

    Senior Member
    US English
    Grammatically, "a key can open any door" is correct. But I'm not sure how that would apply in a clothing market situation. Also, maybe I don't understand your context, but I don't see how the statement can be true. Is it a special skeleton key?
     

    paul f

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I will also add that I can see no interpretations of the phrase which might be found as offensive by English speakers (even to my dirty mind :)).
     

    Laura74xxx

    New Member
    Italian
    Well, yes, we are thinking of printing it on a t-shirt (girls age 6-13); no other images, no special stuff... just this sentence on a t-shirt... Glad to hear that there won't be any issue here (actually, I was quite astonished in hearing that it could create any disappointment...) - Can I have the green light, right?? :)

    Thanks to all,
    L x
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    It is a grammatical sentence, but so what? It doesn't have any real meaning, and as an assertion it is false: a key cannot, in fact, open any door. Suitability in the market place has less to do with whether a statement is grammatical, and much more to do with whether it means anything. This statement means very little indeed.
     

    Laura74xxx

    New Member
    Italian
    It's just a sentence on a girl's t-shirt.... a girl of 6.... no other implications or philosophical meaning behind... just wanted to know whether this sentence could be offensive (as I've been told it might be so, but really cannot understand why!) - that's all...
     

    paul f

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I’m reluctant to go into much detail about this, but now I hear that it is for young girls aged 6-13 I feel like there may indeed be some sexual connotations to the phrase that may make it inappropriate. It could be interpreted as ‘there is a trick to getting into our pants’ if plastered over the chest of teenage girls.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    It's not offensive to me ... or in my knowledge. If there were to be sexual implications, for example, you would have to make them very, very obvious is some other way -- just the words don't do it.

    Edit: Seeing your simultaneous post above, I can tell you that teenage boys will see sexual innuendo in everything, so you're not safe there. :) If you're concerned, just don't do it -- I hope your entire clothing line isn't dependent on a single sentence.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I must confess that I can see why people might find this slogan, printed on a T-shirt for 6-13 year old girls, not offensive, but slightly worrying. I can see it giving rise to the question "And what key do I use to open your door, little girl?"

    So it's perhaps not a great choice, on several counts:(.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Sensible people assume that words actually signify something, and that they are not just meaningless babble flung in the face of the world (although that does seem to be what this phrase really is.) If people cannot find a decent and respectable meaning in a statement -- and there is none here -- it is not surprising that many might think that there must be a dirty meaning that they don't quite get. Besides, "keys" and "keyholes" have long before this been used to suggestive effect. You might note the old jazz song "You Got the Right Key but the Wrong Keyhole", or the advertising poster for the original Broadway production of Promises, Promises.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I got a brand new pair of roller skates,
    You got a brand new key.
    I think that we should get together and try them out, to see ..

    by Melanie. (Wiki article: Brand_New_Key.)

    It was a popular song in 1971-1972, and certainly was understood as a sexual innuendo at the time.

    If you want a slogan that suggests something like "You/I can achieve anything/ great things" it would be good to find another way to say it.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Can I just ask if this is meant to be 'decorative English'? Here is Tom McArthur's definition of it

    DECORATIVE ENGLISH, also atmosphere English, ornamental English. Non-technical terms for English used as a visual token of modernity or a social accessory on items of clothing, writing paper, shopping bags, pencil boxes, etc., in advertising, and as notices in cafés, etc. The messages conveyed are ‘atmospheric’ rather than precise or grammatical, as in ‘Let's sport violent all day long’. Use of decorative English appears to centre on JAPAN, but has spread widely in East Asia and elsewhere.
    Others have already said that key and door might be interpreted in particular ways. If the text is just decorative, you can easily adjust it to reduce the possibility of innuendo, perhaps in the way suggested by Cagey.
     
    Last edited:

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I've seen some of this ornamental English. Some of it is puzzling, and some of it is unintentionally hilarious.

    Since the original question was whether or not the expression would work in a UK/US market I think it's worth pointing out that meaningless decorative English can be very tricky to do correctly. Most of the clothing I've seen here uses a single word rather than a slogan.

    I agree with others that there is a possible sexuaal subtext to keys and doors and I wouldn't want to see it on my nieces' clothing. Even "I have/hold the key to any door" would be better, to me, than the original.
     
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