66 Responses to “"Both"”

  1. corydodt says:

    That sign has bigger issues than “Both”.

    • aperturehead says:

      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…


  2. You can never have too much leading…

    • Quiet Wyatt says:

      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.”

  3. Category says:

    Typography geek, or poetry heaven?

    I choose the latter

  4. Warren_Terra says:

    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.

  5. Ian Wood says:

    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!

  6. robcat2075 says:

    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.

    • Lobster says:

       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.

    • Snig says:

      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.

      • bardfinn says:

        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.

  7. Guest says:


  8. Matthew Bondy says:

    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…

  9. Howard Brown says:

    unsightly and (encourages vermin and promotes disease)

  10. 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?

  11. 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.

    • euansmith says:


    • bardfinn says:

      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;
      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

  12. Cactaur says:

    Low hanging fruit but…

    Rather a Hackney-ed saying.

  13. jimh says:

    Well, you have to admit that neither one is very pleasant.

  14. Heevee Lister says:

    I’d say there’s far more failure in this pitiful Photoshop fake job than there is in the sign.

  15. timquinn says:

    both unsightly and

  16. Philboyd Studge says:

    Another Markoff Chaney masterpiece.

  17. emacsomancer says:

    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.

  18. Daen de Leon says:

    I nearly had lunch with the former leader of Lambeth Council this week.  Lovely lady.  She’d never put signs like that up.

  19. Tim Drage says:

    The North is far better for strange signs: http://cementimental.tumblr.com/post/38900656332

  20. Nasim Bahbahani says:

    please do not leave food
    waste in the park as it is
    both unsightly and
    encourages vermin WHICH
    promotes disease.

  21. Hugo says:

    It is correct if you parse it as the writer intended:

    both (unsightly) and (encourages vermin and promotes disease).

  22. Clifton says:


    I have eaten

    the vermin

    that were in

    the public park

    and which

    you probably attracted with


    food waste.

    Forgive me

    they were delicious

    but now I feel

    really sick.

  23. bobcorrigan says:

    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.”


  24. Paco says:

    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.

  25. bolamig says:

    Both entertaining and sad and inconsequential.

  26. miasm says:

    ‘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.

  27. 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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