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Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008 12:57 am

WE’RE SO VAIN

U-R 2 CLOSE – License plate lingo takes on GNU Meaning

As time draws near to renew the stickers on our 1977 Ford Pinto, we've been giving some thought to switching to vanity license plates.

So we logged onto the Illinois Secretary of State Web site, which allows prospective personalized plate purchasers to check the availability of their desired letter combination, and noticed the following warning: "Do not use foreign words and obscene or offensive combinations."

Mi scusi? Last time we checked, Illinois doesn't have an official language. Besides, where do you even draw the line between foreign and English words anymore?

"If it's a word that the meaning of which would be OK in English, then we'll allow it in another language as long as it's a language that uses the same alphabet," explains SOS vehicle-services department director Ernie Dannenberger.

The office employs use of foreign language dictionaries, presumably to keep pendejos like us from pulling a fast one and requesting dirty lingo in other tongues.

Maybe the Web should be more clear, Dannenberger concedes — and oui agree.

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