River Wissey Lovell Fuller

NOTICE THIS or More Plain English

August 2004

Ron examines the realities of the English language

I have often been amused by the alternative meanings and possible misinterpretations that are possible with some notices, especially those where the writer's aim is to use few words. One of my favourites that I have seen on a number of occasions is "Beware Children". I suppose the little monsters can be dangerous at times. Even more common is "Slow Children". Does this mean they are not very bright or is it to do with the speed with which they go to school? And, of course, we see "Police Slow" and "Police Accident". Why are there so many police accidents?

Others that amuse me are; "Baby Changing Facilities", perhaps there are some parents delighted with the opportunity to exchange their offsprings, and "Disabled Toilet", is this an alternative to "Out of Action"? Another one is "Heavy Plant Crossing"; I suppose they are moving some trees. And one that I am seeing more frequently these days is "Cats Eyes Removed". The mind boggles.

I have seen outside a pub "Only Guide Dogs Allowed in Here", pity, just when I fancied a beer.

Readers of The Independent have also found some good examples. Some of those spotted by them are:

"Train Drivers Must Not Be Disturbed", I should hope not.

"Red Squirrels Drive Slowly". Seen in Scotland. Is that why they are being overtaken by grey squirrels?

"Please Shut Gate to Stop Sheep Worrying". Are they of a nervous disposition?

"Sheep Keep Dogs on Leads". That sounds interesting.

"Potatoes Turn Left". Do they?

"Farm Shop Left Under Bridge". How careless! Seen on the A74

"This Scaffolding is Alarmed". Wouldn't you be?

"Free Range Sausages". That one gets the imagination going.

"These Gates are Closed One Hour before the Advertised Time" !!? In Richmond Park.

"Bargain Basement on First Floor". In a department store in Ulster. Well it is Ireland.

"Way Out Fuel". I must get some of that.

"Haircut While You wait". Alternatively you can just leave your head behind and call back.

"Wait for the Green Man to Cross". The Martians are here.

"Plain Clothed Policemen Travel on this Bus". Which bus has the handsome naked ones?

Ron Watts

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