Cory Doctorow at 5:00 pm Fri, Dec 28, 2012
That sign has bigger issues than “Both”.
Sign text is not book text. Public signs are meant to convey short bursts of meaning to people either driving by or walking by (or BOTH) – someone being pulled along by a speedy Great Dane in a park is not going to have time to divine inaccuracies in a sign – I am not ashamed to admit that I understood the meaning of this sign. And if I’m not mistaken, this appears to be simply a thrown together temporary sign, cello-taped to a standard backing.
PS -I think a better re-write of the sign would be…
“DON’T LEAVE FOOD IN THE PARK, DISEASED RATS WILL GET YOU!”
You can never have too much leading…
Never too much.
Sad haiku is sad.
I like the way the first two lines read as self-contained koans:
“Please do not leave food.”
“Waste in the park as it is.”
Typography geek, or poetry heaven?
I choose the latter
Their grammar is unfortunate, but their meaning is clear and perfectly appropriate. Must everything be nitpicked to a global audience? Maybe there’s something especially funny about this error, or it could be that signmakers are systematically making errors of this sort – but the size of your audience just makes me feel sorry for the poor fellow that made the minor error.
“Must everything be nitpicked to a global audience?”
Well, I don’t know about everything, but you did end your post with two periods.
After carefully considering, I have edited the comment to correct the error. I felt it was appropriate to do so, so long as I didn’t try to pretend I hadn’t.
I was strongly tempted to end this comment with two periods, though.
I would have..
It’s a thing..
What’s a thing??
“I dunno what the hell’s in there, but it’s weird and pissed off, whatever it is.”
you mean you feel sorry for “who” made the minor error, not “that” made the minor error
I saw it more as “found poetry” then anything. Especially if you imagine it being read by William *pause*
This is a design catastrophe. A design holocaust. The person who made this is design Hitler.
Alas, I was enjoying this verbal joust but Godwin’s law has been invoked and the conversation must end.
Damn, such a quick ending to an amusing post.
It is two things! It is unsightly, encourages vermin, and—three! Three things! It is unsightly, encourages vermin, and promotes disease! Though technically the first is a quality possessed by food waste rather than a result of its presence, so it is one thing, and causes two other things!
No one expects the Borough of Hackney Parks Commission!
It is Four things- it promotes pedantry..
Is that even real? The perspective of the type and the paper it is on and the sign holder it is in seem not to be all in the same world.
Yeah, the sign’s at an angle and the words are straight, as if they’d been added to a picture rather than a sign.
I took the picture. It’s on a gate at Shoreditch Park. That’s how it looks.
Oh. Well, there you go then.
It’s an extradimensional gate to a plane of Eldritch non-euclidean grammar. It has enveloped you, and now all your emails, all your texts, all your lolcats, even your sexts, will seem normal when sent, but will arrive with the Grammar Out of Space. You will soon hear the Shoreditch Horror chuckling (gasping? beatboxing?) from the next room.
If it’s Cory’s Shoreditch Horror, you will soon be awakened by it hammering, drilling, and sawing as it renovates R’yleh into an illegal hotel.
The part about promoting disease is odd. I suppose if someone were to eat discarded food that might cause problems. Or do they mean through encouraging vermin discarded food would promote diseases. I do recall something about London and the bubonic plague…
unsightly and (encourages vermin and promotes disease)
“Unsightly” being mere aesthetics, while “encourages vermin and promotes disease” are issues of public safety.
It’s clumsy, but that was my reading of it. It’d have been better if it was “encourages vermin that promote disease”.
do the vermin promote disease via conventional methods such as TV advertising or are they going viral?
I’m going with “encourages diseasey vermin”.
Glad there’s another person out there whose math and grammar neurons are cross-wired.
It would seem to me that the poor downtrodden vermin of the world could use encouragement more than anyone. How else are they ever going to muster the will and determination to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and rise to the level of common nuisance?
Nuisance? Why, one man’s vermin is another man’s pets!
Whatever its errors and idiosyncrasies, it’s so much more literate than a similar sign on this side of the Atlantic. In fact, where I come from, it’d just be pictograms, I suppose.
but in ALL CAPS?
Literacy privilege, or, why grammar nazis are dicks – Boing Boing.
A false equivalency.
The difference here is, that someone was paid* to produce this …
Gem of the English language …
whereas there are deserving professionals, unemployed and underemployed, who continue their search for scrivenly util.
No one here is oppressing, socially stigmatising, or denying the author of this sign access to the Internet’s bountiful cornucopia.
We are bemoaning the (lack of) government of Hackney, of which this sign is a small and easily-digested token.
Further research reveals that this sign is a stand-in for such public, tax-funded services as:
Litter bins pickup service;
A little retired fellow in coveralls with a sack and pointy stick picking up litter;
A little civic-minded fellow ” ” ” ” ” “” ;
A swarming horde of little “retired” fellows in day-Glo coveralls with sacks and pointy sticks accompanied by a minder;
* money ** ***
** tax money
***and incurs benefits
Low hanging fruit but…
Rather a Hackney-ed saying.
Well, you have to admit that neither one is very pleasant.
I’d say there’s far more failure in this pitiful Photoshop fake job than there is in the sign.
Hey cool. You just called Cory Doctorow both a liar and an unskilled user of Photoshop. That makes you awesome.
both unsightly and
Another Markoff Chaney masterpiece.
It’s really only a problem if you assume (both) that co-ordination structure is flat and that recursion doesn’t exist. Otherwise: [both [ (is) unsightly] and [encourages vermin and promotes disease]]. In other words, there are two things that leaving food does: (a) creates unsightlyness and (b) encourages vermin and promotes disease (presumably the disease is related to the vermin).
P.s. @darladoon: You can use “that” to refer to people too.
In place of “that”, I prefer, “those… things…”
I nearly had lunch with the former leader of Lambeth Council this week. Lovely lady. She’d never put signs like that up.
The North is far better for strange signs: http://cementimental.tumblr.com/post/38900656332
please do not leave food
waste in the park as it is
both unsightly and
encourages vermin WHICH
When in doubt, just write as Hemingway would: “your ugly leftovers make our rats sick”.
It is correct if you parse it as the writer intended:
both (unsightly) and (encourages vermin and promotes disease).
THIS IS JUST A PUBLIC NOTICE THAT
I have eaten
that were in
the public park
you probably attracted with
they were delicious
but now I feel
I showed this to my 12-year old daughter, a notorious stickler for grammar.
She scanned the text for a total of 5 seconds, then shrugged.
“They said ‘please’. Besides, people who litter are a-holes.”
A clue for non-English speakers: “both” means more than one and less than three. Oops, you need to know a little English to read the clue itself.
It’s a clue I’ve needed before – in Norwegian “both” is frequently used for up to three items even though it’s probably technically wrong to do so.
Both entertaining and sad and inconsequential.
‘encourages vermin and promotes disease’
perhaps that should be ‘encourages vermin which promote(s) disease’, (s) being optional…
but the nested implication is valid no?
perhaps the line
breaks are what’s funny.
I believe “both unsightly and an encouragement to vermin which promote disease” would work.
I don’t understand what is wrong with this.
The use of the word “both” actually has a specific function: to clarify they they are talking about two things (aesthetics, public health) and not three things (aesthetics, pests, health). It’s as if to say, “It is both ugly, and causes real problems.” Classifying it as two issues and not three actually makes for a stronger message.
Personally, I’d use comma placement to drive the point home as well, but the sentence reads just fine. This is not a matter of the grammar police overreacting to a tiny flaw, it’s the grammar police overreacting to something that isn’t actually a flaw. The English language is absolutely primed to create these kinds of ambiguities, but that’s all they are.
As for using “which” to clarify the point, I agree that it would make it more grammatically bulletproof, but it changes the meaning (although I doubt either was a particular concern for the original sign maker).
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