Thread: "Clean" means "Dirty" Board: Oblivion / Ship of Fools.


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Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
Over on a much weightier thread in Purgatory discussing Biblical interpretation, orfeo came out with this anecdote:
quote:
I made a perfectly standard rotatable "Clean/Dirty" sign for the dishwasher at work, the kind you can buy, and one guy managed to interpret it the exact opposite way to how it was intended. He thought "Clean" meant that the dishwasher was 'clean', meaning he had the all-clear to through unwashed items into the dishwasher, in amongst the clean items that needed to be unloaded.
Any more contenders for polar opposite misunderstandings?

For my part, I'm still struggling with my web mail's click-and-drag instructions for sending files with e-mail:
quote:
release to attach

 
Posted by Sipech (# 16870) on :
 
My favourite may be found at the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent. The exit signs there don't use arrows, but triangles, which would normally be good enough. Only instead of having painted triangles on the signs, they are cut out of the wood. So nomatter which direction you look at the sign from (unless side-on) you are informed that you are heading in the right direction for the exit.

It took me nearly half an hour to get of there.
 
Posted by Bob Two-Owls (# 9680) on :
 
That brings to mind the Yorkshire "while". In South Yorkshire in particular the word while is used like "until" so you might say to somebody "I'm here while five o'clock and then I'm off". Unfortunately level (railway) crossings have a standard sign which used to read "wait here while lights are flashing"...

[ 16. January 2015, 09:58: Message edited by: Bob Two-Owls ]
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Sipech:
My favourite may be found at the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent. The exit signs there don't use arrows, but triangles, which would normally be good enough. Only instead of having painted triangles on the signs, they are cut out of the wood. So nomatter which direction you look at the sign from (unless side-on) you are informed that you are heading in the right direction for the exit.

It took me nearly half an hour to get of there.

I can't remember where it was, but I once came across somewhere that had the usual convention for arrows reversed.

Normally, on an overhead sign, an arrow pointing up is taken to mean "keep moving forward, in the direction you're facing".

This place used an arrow pointing down to mean the same thing. My guess is that whoever had created the sign thought that this would tell people to move towards the spot under the sign. By this reasoning process, an upwards-pointing arrow can only be used when you're expected to climb through the ceiling.
 
Posted by Sandemaniac (# 12829) on :
 
I remember taking some time to work out that in Estonia a red triangle pointing downwards indicated the gents, whereas upwards indicated the ladies.

AG
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
I'm not sure I understand the Bluewater triangle explanation.

But older French semi-rural road signs can have an arrow pointing to the physical road rather than the more abstract direction of the destination.

I can't find a picture right now, but you can arrive at a crossroads with a sign mounted on, say, a wall immediately to the left of the road heading straight over, saying

Paris >

Which would mean "the Paris road is that one" i.e. continue straight on, and not, as might be imagined, "turn right here for Paris".

[ 16. January 2015, 10:50: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Barefoot Friar (# 13100) on :
 
Where I grew up, in west central Alabama, the phrase "don't care to..." means "I'd rather not". So if someone says they "don't care to" go to the store with you, they mean they don't really want to go there with you now.

In northeast Alabama, "don't care to..." has the opposite meaning. If someone says they "don't care to" go to the store with you, they mean they're willing to go. The idea is they "don't care" -- they don't object.

ETA: I got several jobs I didn't really want to do because of this difference....

There are a few more obscure examples as well.

[ 16. January 2015, 10:57: Message edited by: Barefoot Friar ]
 
Posted by Sioni Sais (# 5713) on :
 
When none tries to "Uninstall" a program it is usually done by the Installation software.

eta: It's important to drive on the right side of the road, which in Britain is the left. Is that clear enough for you?

[ 16. January 2015, 11:02: Message edited by: Sioni Sais ]
 
Posted by Bob Two-Owls (# 9680) on :
 
Sandemaniac, I have similar trouble sorting out Fir from Mna in Ireland. In the sense of lavatorial signage that is, I'm not saying Ireland is some kind of cross-dresser's paradise...
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Barefoot Friar:
In northeast Alabama, "don't care to..." has the opposite meaning.

In Northern Ireland, "I doubt he's coming" usually means that he very probably is.

But may well be unwelcome when he arrives - perhaps the (appropriately dour) idea is that by thinking it hard enough it won't happen, overriden by the sad reality that it probably will.
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
In many cafeteria's and the like, signs that say "This is a self-cleaning table". Which clearly means that when you walk away leaving your tray of empty plates and dirty cutlery behind the table will sprout arms and legs to carry your rubbish to the appropriate tray drop point.
 
Posted by Lord Jestocost (# 12909) on :
 
I somehow always end up following the buses around here, and they have triangular rear indicator lights. So when they signal left, what I see is a flashing arrow pointing right, even though it's on the left side of the vehicle. It's the way my mind works.

I've also been caught out in the US by the road signs hanging over intersections. They give the name of the road you are intersecting, NOT the road you are already on.

My father gets confused by the type of electrical switch that has a white face or a red face. The red face usually means the switch is on. He interprets it as meaning the switch is off, because if it was (say) powering a life support machine then that would be the more life-threatening of the two options. Not that his career has ever taken him anywhere near life-support machines, but that's the way his mind works.
 
Posted by Sipech (# 16870) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I'm not sure I understand the Bluewater triangle explanation.

Get a piece of paper and cut a triangle out of it. Then write "Exit this way" on both sides of the paper above the triangle-shaped hole.

Hang it somewhere then walk towards it twice, once each from opposite directions. Either way you approach it, the sign will be telling you that you're going in the right direction.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
Um... OK. So which way is out? (Not that I ever intend to go back to Bluewater. Once was enough).
 
Posted by Higgs Bosun (# 16582) on :
 
In Britain, particularly in London, on one way streets where pedestrians are to cross they paint 'LOOK RIGHT' or 'LOOK LEFT' by the kerb, to tell you the direction from which traffic is to be expected. However, these words are down by my feet, so I read automatically read the upside down words on the other side of the street, and so look the wrong way.
 
Posted by Liopleurodon (# 4836) on :
 
Bluewater is triangle-shaped though, and surrounded by carparks, with exits to the carparks all around the outside of the triangle. So it's pretty easy to get out of the shopping centre. It is incredibly important, though, to exit at the correct point to get back to your car (or to the bus station bit). I remember that when the place first opened the police were inundated with reports of stolen cars because people thought they knew where in the 13,000-space carpark theirs was, but had got it wrong.
 
Posted by Pigwidgeon (# 10192) on :
 
There's always the classic "Fine for Parking" sign.
 
Posted by L'organist (# 17338) on :
 
When I was a child the incumbent of the parish had a stock of cards which he would put through the door of a house if he called and didn't get an answer; the cards read

"The Rector called and was sorry to find you not at home."
 
Posted by Piglet (# 11803) on :
 
This is a Pond thing*, but it's always puzzled me that a Brit who says "I couldn't care less" means exactly the same as an American who says "I could care less".

[Confused]

* No pond-war intended: I'm genuinely confused.
 
Posted by Sipech (# 16870) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Piglet:
This is a Pond thing*, but it's always puzzled me that a Brit who says "I couldn't care less" means exactly the same as an American who says "I could care less".

[Confused]

* No pond-war intended: I'm genuinely confused.

Really? "I couldn't care less" means that I do not care at all. It's like saying I could't get colder than absolute zero.

Surely "I could care less" means that I care somewhat but am in danger of not caring any more.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
No. It is a misuse. Judging by everyone I have heard use "I could care less" meaning they do not care at all. Yes, it is possible some individuals take a different meaning, but generally the two mean the same.
And the mixed phrasing Is not limited to one side of the Atlantic.
 
Posted by Carex (# 9643) on :
 
There was a wonderful photograph in the newspaper years ago of two signs on the same post facing the same way:

"ENTRANCE ONLY"
"DO NOT ENTER".

It did make sense, though, if you were already inside the parking lot and looking for the way out.
 
Posted by Lamb Chopped (# 5528) on :
 
We have these weird single rows of triangles painted on the road at the entrance to on-ramps/off-ramps of the freeway. The triangles have the pointy side facing TOWARD you when it's a road you're allowed to enter there, away when it's not.

Which makes no sense. If you think of them as arrowheads without the shaft, they're exactly opposite to how they should be. If you think of them as shark's teeth (which I can't avoid every time I see them), then you're supposed to rush on to the sharp and pointy edge in order to get where you want to go.

Just.No.
 
Posted by Ariel (# 58) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
We have these weird single rows of triangles painted on the road at the entrance to on-ramps/off-ramps of the freeway. The triangles have the pointy side facing TOWARD you when it's a road you're allowed to enter there, away when it's not.

It confused the hell out of me when I was learning to drive that you were not supposed to enter a road marked like this. To me it seems intuitive that you should enter the wider end and are then focused increasingly towards the pointy end which is the directional indicator, but it doesn't work like that.

[ 16. January 2015, 16:55: Message edited by: Ariel ]
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
There are, of course, those French junctions on encounters where two puzzling choices are offered: "Toutes Directions" and "Autres Directions".

(Yes, I know that they shouldn't be translated literally into English).

Thinking of signs, when I see one in a supermarket car park saying "Parent and child parking only", I expect a mum and a baby to be sitting in the marked space, disconsolately chained to the signpost while dad and the older kids do the shopping.
 
Posted by Sparrow (# 2458) on :
 
Another Pond thing I think is the use of the word "momentarily" which over here means "just for a moment" and over there means "in a moment".
 
Posted by Paul. (# 37) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Piglet:
This is a Pond thing*, but it's always puzzled me that a Brit who says "I couldn't care less" means exactly the same as an American who says "I could care less".

This is fast becoming the standard text on this issue: David Mitchell on 'could care less'
 
Posted by Penny S (# 14768) on :
 
I have problems with triangles indicating the door open, door close buttons on lifts. Rather like this -- <> and ><. I see them as illustrating the doors, with the <> showing them moved together, and >< showing them moved apart. But, apparently, they show the motion. But I still get confused. Why they can't use words, I know not.
 
Posted by Ariel (# 58) on :
 
I have problems with that too.

The symbols on car dashboards are also not how I'd have portrayed the concepts they represent and aren't particularly intuitive. Fog (for one) ought to be a little cloud.

Incidentally, I had no idea that this was a possibility in some cars.
 
Posted by RuthW (# 13) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Lord Jestocost:
I've also been caught out in the US by the road signs hanging over intersections. They give the name of the road you are intersecting, NOT the road you are already on.

Having seen this all my life, it makes sense to me. The idea is that you know what street you're already on, and you're looking at the overhead signs to know where to turn or to figure out how far you've gone. Frequently when we give directions we'll say, "It's on Third just past Cedar -- if you get to Chestnut you've gone too far."
 
Posted by Garasu (# 17152) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
Incidentally, I had no idea that this was a possibility in some cars.

I want one!
 
Posted by Penny S (# 14768) on :
 
I've just watched Room 101 - alternative meanings for dashboard signs. Headlamps becomes jellyfish ahead. full beam becomes jellyfish speeding, and something to do with brake pads becomes Camelot missing some knights.
 
Posted by Schroedinger's cat (# 64) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Penny S:
I've just watched Room 101 - alternative meanings for dashboard signs. Headlamps becomes jellyfish ahead. full beam becomes jellyfish speeding, and something to do with brake pads becomes Camelot missing some knights.

That was good. She had a good point - some of them are confusing.
 
Posted by Moo (# 107) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by RuthW:
quote:
Originally posted by Lord Jestocost:
I've also been caught out in the US by the road signs hanging over intersections. They give the name of the road you are intersecting, NOT the road you are already on.

Having seen this all my life, it makes sense to me. The idea is that you know what street you're already on, and you're looking at the overhead signs to know where to turn or to figure out how far you've gone. Frequently when we give directions we'll say, "It's on Third just past Cedar -- if you get to Chestnut you've gone too far."
I haven't been in Massachusetts for more than twenty years, but the street signs there did not give the name of the street you were on if it was a major road. The idea was that if you're on Commonwealth Avenue, you're supposed to know it.

Moo
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Penny S:
I have problems with triangles indicating the door open, door close buttons on lifts. Rather like this -- <> and ><. I see them as illustrating the doors, with the <> showing them moved together, and >< showing them moved apart. But, apparently, they show the motion. But I still get confused. Why they can't use words, I know not.

They're arrows. Doors aren't triangular.

The reason for not using words is because not everyone can read English.

[ 16. January 2015, 21:36: Message edited by: orfeo ]
 
Posted by Jonah the Whale (# 1244) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
There are, of course, those French junctions on encounters where two puzzling choices are offered: "Toutes Directions" and "Autres Directions".

Aw! I wanted to do that one. Apparently "toutes directions" can be better translated as "through traffic", or was that "autres directions"?

I know in Belgium they don't seem to have caught on to the idea that an arrow pointing up means straight on (and when you think about it why doesn't it mean "up"?), so when you see a signpost pointing left to Brussels you have to look for another one pointing right to Brussels and split the difference.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jonah the Whale:
quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
There are, of course, those French junctions on encounters where two puzzling choices are offered: "Toutes Directions" and "Autres Directions".

Aw! I wanted to do that one. Apparently "toutes directions" can be better translated as "through traffic", or was that "autres directions"?
"Toutes directions" would be "through traffic". I think having the two signs together at one junction must be aprocryphal*.

"Autres directions" means "everywhere apart from the main direction signposted".

*Although I distinctly remember a "no parking" pictogram sign near Paris with a qualifying notice underneath, "tolerated", which kind of embodies the French ambivalence to law and order.
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
If I want a little bit of street sign confusion, I don't have to leave my own country.

Here in Canberra, if you have an ordinary, small-scale T-intersection, there will be a street sign at the top of the 'T'. It will have the name of the side-street pointing in the direction of the side-street, and the name of the through-street running across in the direction of the through-street. In other words the shape of the sign is itself like a 'T'.

Effectively, the sign for the side-street is pointing at the street and saying "it's there".

Plenty of other places, though, the sign for the side-street will be sitting on its own on one of the two corners inside the T-intersection, pointing down the side-street.

Effectively, this is saying "it starts here".

I do understand the logic of the 2nd system, but it causes me difficulty, not least because I haven't worked out whether there's any system for knowing whether the sign will be on the corner that's just before the turn I want, or on the corner that's just after the turn I want.

It's just occurred to me that maybe it's based on whether I'm turning left or right, so now I'll have to drive to some town that uses the system and test that theory out.
 
Posted by Enoch (# 14322) on :
 
Two particular bugbears:-

1. Signing which seem to have been laid out by highway engineers who can't imagine that there are people who don't already know the way - in which case why would they need the signs?

2. Highway engineers who put one sign directly behind another so that you can't see it until it's too late.

One would have thought both these were obvious, but they're not.
 
Posted by cosmic dance (# 14025) on :
 
My favourite confusing expression is the South African "just now" as in "I'll see you just now" which actually means "I'll see you later". If someone actually means "now" they will say "now now".

Least that's the way it was when I was in that part of the world...
 
Posted by Deputy Verger (# 15876) on :
 
As I recall, "just now" means in a while, or not now. "Now now" means, soon, next, in a very little while, and "now" means now, more or less.
 
Posted by Rowen (# 1194) on :
 
For some years, I lived in a region that was being overtaken by highways. New ones every month. Signage changed constantly. But for a long time, a series of signs had us in giggles, and must have confused tourists.

The ten or so road signs had one arrow, one direction.... The words said " Melbourne. Cairns"

Considering Melbourne was some two thousand kms south, and Cairns about the same, north, we never worked out tne reasoning on the signs.
 
Posted by Palimpsest (# 16772) on :
 
Boston used to be worse. They'd have street signs for the minor side streets but none on the major streets. The theory was that you would know the major streets. They subverted Federal Bicentennial celebration funds to put up street signs for the major streets on the excuse that a lot of tourists would be visiting Boston and would need help.

To me the most common confusion is in the street post push buttons to control the walk light at an intersection. It's often unclear what street is meant by which arrow when there are two buttons.

My favorite confusing phrase is from Lewis Carroll; "Will you, won't you, will you, won't you come to tea?"
 
Posted by Jonah the Whale (# 1244) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I think having the two signs together at one junction must be aprocryphal.[/QB]

Toutes directions. Autres directions.

I swear I recall seeing it at least once in Belgium. On the other hand I am now so old that I probably remember recalling that I thought someone had said they had seen it and have misrembered it into a quasi memory.
 
Posted by Palimpsest (# 16772) on :
 
There was a humorous but official traffic sign put up in Holland. They had been implementing a new theory of reducing pedestrian injuries by not making streets seem like highways which are safe to drive fast in a car. This includes narrow car lanes, eliminating curbs and most marked crosswalks and a lot of lights and traffic signs.
At one point in this elimination of all the excess signage they added one. It translated "last traffic sign for 40 kilometers" [Smile]
 
Posted by Ariel (# 58) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
quote:
I have problems with triangles indicating the door open, door close buttons on lifts. Rather like this -- <> and ><. I see them as illustrating the doors, with the <> showing them moved together, and >< showing them moved apart. But, apparently, they show the motion. But I still get confused. Why they can't use words, I know not.
They're arrows. Doors aren't triangular.
They're angle brackets, and that's where the problem lies. No door is angled like that, so not everyone is immediately clear which direction means what. The arrow thing is an interpretation. Judging by the amount of people I've seen going for the wrong button on the trains Penny and I aren't alone in not getting this right and thinking <> is unity, wholeness, completion while >< is parting.

Traffic lights ought to be the other way round, as well: green for peaceful, restful stop and red for energetic get-your-foot-down and rocket off. I don't have a problem with them as they currently are, but it would feel a bit more natural if the meanings were reversed.
 
Posted by Schroedinger's cat (# 64) on :
 
I am with Penny on lift door signs. They are confusing - I can never work out which one is which.

I know that they need signs not words, because of language issues, but the symbols need to be clear. To everyone.
 
Posted by Adeodatus (# 4992) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
Traffic lights ought to be the other way round, as well: green for peaceful, restful stop and red for energetic get-your-foot-down and rocket off. I don't have a problem with them as they currently are, but it would feel a bit more natural if the meanings were reversed.

"... And there, Your Honour, rests the case for the defence."

People are often alarmed at the thought of "clean" and "dirty" corridors around surgical theatres in hospital. But context is everything: "dirty" means "could eat your dinner off it", and "clean" means "if we find a bacterium in here, it'll be taken out and shot."
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
The reason for not using words is because not everyone can read English.

Wittgenstein uses the example of people who read arrows in the opposite direction from the rest of us as an example of the arbitrary nature of symbols. I thought he was speculating until my two-year daughter started reading arrows.
 
Posted by Pearl B4 Swine (# 11451) on :
 
I've never been able to use or understand the symbols for < and > greater than and less than - the arrows in either direction.

I can reason it both ways. It was a killer for me on school standardized tests.

I love the little helper, "Righty-tighty, lefty- loosey". However, it seems to depend on how you're holding the things to be connected, or whether you're in front of, or behind the the two hoses... ah, it's so complicated.
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Wittgenstein uses the example of people who read arrows in the opposite direction from the rest of us as an example of the arbitrary nature of symbols. I thought he was speculating until my two-year daughter started reading arrows.

I'll confess to not being a Wittgenstein scholar, but will say not all symbols are exactly arbitrary. Many are contextual, which isn't quite the same thing.
 
Posted by St. Gwladys (# 14504) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by cosmic dance:
My favourite confusing expression is the South African "just now" as in "I'll see you just now" which actually means "I'll see you later". If someone actually means "now" they will say "now now".

Least that's the way it was when I was in that part of the world...

In Wenglish - South Walian dialect, there's a difference between "just now" and "now just". "just now" tends to be past tense - I did it a short time ago, whilst "now just" means, "now, shortly", as oppossed to "now, in a minute" (another dialectualism], meaning "as soon as I have time"! I'm confused just thinking about it - it's all just a matter of context but makes perfect sense to the speaker and listener!
 
Posted by Chorister (# 473) on :
 
Or, as in the Cornish, 'Dreckly', which doesn't actually mean Directly at all, but when I get A Round Tuit, which might even mean never.
 
Posted by Hilda of Whitby (# 7341) on :
 
When I first went to Munich in 1984, I knew almost no German. In my first walk around town, I marveled (fortunately just to myself) that so many streets had signs that seemed to indicate that the street name was "Einbahnstrasse".

[Hot and Hormonal]

Of course, it means "one way street"!!
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
It took me a while in France to realise that Hors gabarit was not some seedy banlieue but a route for vehicles too high to fit under the bridge/in the tunnel/etc.
 
Posted by Sioni Sais (# 5713) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
It took me a while in France to realise that Hors gabarit was not some seedy banlieue but a route for vehicles too high to fit under the bridge/in the tunnel/etc.

I wondered why so many villages were named Rappel
 
Posted by Gracious rebel (# 3523) on :
 
And on a holiday to North Wales many years ago we remarked on the signposts to a place called 'Llwybr Cyhoeddus' .... until we realised it meant Public Footpath
 
Posted by Zacchaeus (# 14454) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
I am with Penny on lift door signs. They are confusing - I can never work out which one is which.

I know that they need signs not words, because of language issues, but the symbols need to be clear. To everyone.

me too for not understanding lift signs..
 
Posted by Curiosity killed ... (# 11770) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Pearl B4 Swine:
I've never been able to use or understand the symbols for < and > greater than and less than - the arrows in either direction.

I can reason it both ways. It was a killer for me on school standardized tests.

I love the little helper, "Righty-tighty, lefty- loosey". However, it seems to depend on how you're holding the things to be connected, or whether you're in front of, or behind the the two hoses... ah, it's so complicated.

That one I remember as the wider side points to biggest figure - so 5 > x means 5 is greater than x.
 
Posted by Smudgie (# 2716) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
quote:
Originally posted by Pearl B4 Swine:
I've never been able to use or understand the symbols for < and > greater than and less than - the arrows in either direction.

I can reason it both ways. It was a killer for me on school standardized tests.

I love the little helper, "Righty-tighty, lefty- loosey". However, it seems to depend on how you're holding the things to be connected, or whether you're in front of, or behind the the two hoses... ah, it's so complicated.

That one I remember as the wider side points to biggest figure - so 5 > x means 5 is greater than x.
The way I taught kids to remember it was to imagine the > or < sign as the mouth of a crocodile opening. A hungry crocodile would open its mouth to eat the biggest piece of cake [Big Grin]
 
Posted by Penny S (# 14768) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
I am with Penny on lift door signs. They are confusing - I can never work out which one is which.

I know that they need signs not words, because of language issues, but the symbols need to be clear. To everyone.

I think that perspective is coming in here - as is my use of greater than and less than instead of actual triangles because of their absence from the keyboard. Though lift doors do tend not to be at an angle, and to look rectangular.

I realise that not everyone can read the relevant language, but why not use words and signs? Or actual arrow shapes with the shaft as well as the head? Thus <- -> is open, and -><- is close. Lots of arrow shapes exist in umpteen graphics packages.

Never had any trouble with > and < in maths, though. The big end is to the big thing, and the small to the small.
 
Posted by The Rogue (# 2275) on :
 
Saying "I'll drop over to see you tomorrow" was taken to the absurd when I was a student living in a multi-storey building and an Irish friend said "I'll drop up to see you."
 
Posted by Mili (# 3254) on :
 
I was recently at a café set on it's own farm where the owners grew ingredients for the food called 'The Farmer's Place'.

To get to the toilets you had to go through a doorframe and from where we were sitting we could see two toilet doors. We laughed and thought it was a bit insulting that the women's toilet was indicated with a pink cow and the men's with an orange male farmer on a tractor. Later when I went to the toilet I realised there was another door with a blue bull for men and the tractor indicated the disabled toilets.

We weren't the only ones confused as I later watched a boy of about 10 years old stand looking confusedly at all the doors and decide the tractor was the men's toilet.
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
I know that they need signs not words, because of language issues, but the symbols need to be clear. To everyone.

I rather think the point of this thread is that there is no such thing as something that is clear to everyone. Certainly, that was the point in the thread in Purgatory from which it sprang.
 
Posted by Leorning Cniht (# 17564) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
I know that they need signs not words, because of language issues, but the symbols need to be clear. To everyone.

I rather think the point of this thread is that there is no such thing as something that is clear to everyone. Certainly, that was the point in the thread in Purgatory from which it sprang.
In many cases, such as Mili's cafe above, bar and cafe owners are using symbols to try to be cute rather than clear. It's usually on the doors to the toilets, too. This is why there are standards for things like emergency exit signage - yes, I know they're ugly, and they spoil your aesthetic, but they are recognized by almost everyone.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
This is why there are standards for things like emergency exit signage - yes, I know they're ugly, and they spoil your aesthetic, but they are recognized by almost everyone.

Even Vogons [Smile]
 
Posted by W Hyatt (# 14250) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Sipech:
quote:
Originally posted by Piglet:
This is a Pond thing*, but it's always puzzled me that a Brit who says "I couldn't care less" means exactly the same as an American who says "I could care less".

[Confused]

* No pond-war intended: I'm genuinely confused.

Really? "I couldn't care less" means that I do not care at all. It's like saying I could't get colder than absolute zero.

Surely "I could care less" means that I care somewhat but am in danger of not caring any more.

I think of the phrase "I could care less" as a shortened version of "Like I could care less" because that's the only way I can make any sense of it.

quote:
Originally posted by Lord Jestocost:
My father gets confused by the type of electrical switch that has a white face or a red face. The red face usually means the switch is on. He interprets it as meaning the switch is off, because if it was (say) powering a life support machine then that would be the more life-threatening of the two options. Not that his career has ever taken him anywhere near life-support machines, but that's the way his mind works.

I always wonder about designers who choose to mark the two positions of an on/off switch with two circles: one solid (i.e. a disc) and one just a circular line. My guess is that one of them is supposed to look full and the other empty, but who's to say which is which? Or is one of them supposed to look like a light that's on and the other like one that's off? And does it matter if it's done with white paint on a dark background rather than the other way around?
 
Posted by Ariel (# 58) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
I know that they need signs not words, because of language issues, but the symbols need to be clear. To everyone.

On computer desktops and menus there are icons and they usually have little labels underneath them. It's rare that they're entirely unexplained icons. This suits both the people who work better with written words than images, and those who find symbols more useful.

Some programs do let you remove labels and just have the symbols. It can be surprisingly disconcerting to try to work without the labels.
 
Posted by la vie en rouge (# 10688) on :
 
In a church I visited recently, there was a sign posted up saying “please turn off the lights on the landings and stairs”. Apparently this was more ambiguous than it looks because someone had helpfully added “When you leave”. [Snigger]
 
Posted by Enoch (# 14322) on :
 
'Disabled Exit' is ambiguous, as is 'this exit is alarmed'.
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
In many cases, such as Mili's cafe above, bar and cafe owners are using symbols to try to be cute rather than clear. It's usually on the doors to the toilets, too.

There's a restaurant I've been to a few times in Fukushima that doesn't have symbols at all, just the words. Being helpful to those who can't read kanji, the words were also given in romanji - which means I could pronounce the words, but had to scurry for my phrase book to make sure I knew which door was which.

And, sometimes having the symbol and the words can introduce some confusion. There's a pub in Glasgow that always has people taking a double take. Standard man symbol, under which is the word "Laddies".
 
Posted by Piglet (# 11803) on :
 
I'm reminded of a restaurant (I think it was in Belfast) where the corridor to the lavatories was sign-posted "The Johns". The separate facilities were labelled "Elton John" and "Olivia Newton-John".

[Killing me]
 
Posted by Amorya (# 2652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
I know that they need signs not words, because of language issues, but the symbols need to be clear. To everyone.

There's two ways a symbol can be clear though. One is if it is intuitive without context. The other is if it is prevalent and reasonably simple, so people can just learn to attach the meaning to it.

For example, the "Save" icon is a floppy disk. In the past it was clear through being intuitive. Today, I argue that it is still clear, since it's a commonly used symbol. It no longer needs to represent a physical thing, it just represents the action of saving.

Lift buttons all use the same icons. Even if they're not intuitive, they are common and thus learnable. And since there's no particularly catastrophic effect if you use the wrong one, people can learn them through trial and error.
 
Posted by Offeiriad (# 14031) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by L'organist:
When I was a child the incumbent of the parish had a stock of cards which he would put through the door of a house if he called and didn't get an answer; the cards read

"The Rector called and was sorry to find you not at home."

It could be worse: how about
"The Rector called and found you out"? [Devil]
 
Posted by Pigwidgeon (# 10192) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
And, sometimes having the symbol and the words can introduce some confusion. There's a pub in Glasgow that always has people taking a double take. Standard man symbol, under which is the word "Laddies".

It would be even more confusing if the man symbol were wearing kilts.
 
Posted by Penny S (# 14768) on :
 
As a child, I was twice given pairs of words and told that there was a confusion between them, and that I should be careful to use the right one. The first pair was continual/continuous. The second was sensual/sensuous - the A-level English teacher was very anxious that we should not use the wrong one for Keats, as the other applied to Byron, who we were NOT studying. I still, because I am persistently aware of the possibility of confusion, have to check each time if I want to use them. Especially continual/ous, as they don't have a nice label like "mad, bad and dangerous to know" attached to them. The same applies to those lift signs. I know I make mistakes, so the expected usage doesn't stick. Sorry. But I am relieved I am not the only one.
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
"Uninterested/disinterested" is another such "suspect pair".
 
Posted by Moo (# 107) on :
 
'nauseous/nauseating/nauseated' is a triplet. I hate hearing people talk about feeling nauseous.

Moo
 
Posted by L'organist (# 17338) on :
 
My bête noire is decimated used to imply a massacre or near annihilation.

Decimation means the singling out (and killing) of every 10th soldier in a cohort or legion: I think you'd find most people taking part in the Battle of Kursk, say, or at the Somme, would have found the idea of decimation a more acceptable casualty rate.
 
Posted by Amanda B. Reckondwythe (# 5521) on :
 
We're not wandering into the land of similar pairs of words with oft-confused meanings, are we? And out of the land of words that, for some people, have exactly the opposite meaning of what most people think they mean?

To return to that land . . . I've long marveled at the use of "bad" to mean "good". At least the comparative and superlative degrees are formed differently. After all, "Bad, bad Leroy Brown, worst man in the whole damned town" means something quite different from "Bad, bad Leroy Brown, baddest man in the whole damned town."
 
Posted by Chocoholic (# 4655) on :
 
I was reading some meeting minutes last week that was making a point about some staff regularly working at a certain site while others didn't. It referred to "regular" and "irregular" staff.
 
Posted by Leorning Cniht (# 17564) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Moo:
'nauseous/nauseating/nauseated' is a triplet. I hate hearing people talk about feeling nauseous.

I think that's a pond difference, too. I don't think that "nauseated" has ever really existed in UK usage in the sense that it is used in the US.
 
Posted by CuppaT (# 10523) on :
 
Back to confusing signs for a moment. It is a family story of ours that my mom took my two oldest sisters shoe shopping when they were little girls, and parked in a convenient spot along the street, only to find a policeman writing a ticket when she came back to the car. "Officer, why are you ticketing me?" she asked angrily. "Lady, you can see the sign: Police Only No Parking." "That's right!" she replied. "And you can see I am not a policeman, but just shopping!"
 
Posted by Galloping Granny (# 13814) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
Two particular bugbears:-

1. Signing which seem to have been laid out by highway engineers who can't imagine that there are people who don't already know the way - in which case why would they need the signs?

2. Highway engineers who put one sign directly behind another so that you can't see it until it's too late.

One would have thought both these were obvious, but they're not.

Many years ago, when we first came to Matarangi, at a place where a minor road turned off the provincial highway if you came from the east, a sign indicated the way to Matarangi – via what became a narrow, winding road around steep bluffs above the rocks, where some large vehicles got into very sticky situations, and cars towing caravans or boats dreaded meeting oncoming traffic. If you approached from the west, though, you came first to a broad, well-paved access road.

The roading authority were persuaded to change the sign. So they put a new sign post that named only the two bays before Matarangi, and they erected it opposite the branch road, where it was on a tight bend and invisible until you were actually passing it. Because, they told me, that is the international convention for the placing of such information.

However the man in charge promised to have a look next time he was over that way, and the signage was duly moved to where approaching vehicles could read it.

Yes, I was the noisiest squeaky wheel that got the oil.

GG
 
Posted by Golden Key (# 1468) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
'Disabled Exit' is ambiguous, as is 'this exit is alarmed'.

Yes, when I see "this door is alarmed", I always think "poor door"!
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
'Disabled Exit' is ambiguous, as is 'this exit is alarmed'.

What about "This door must remain closed at all times?" Why not just brick it up, then, as clearly no-one can ever use it lawfully.
 
Posted by Golden Key (# 1468) on :
 
"Flammable" vs. "inflammable" vs. "imflammable" all mean the same thing. So I just use "flammable" and "non-flammable", to avoid confusion.

Then there's what is the first floor of a building. In the US, it's almost always the ground floor. (Unless the building is strangely constructed, e.g., adapted to a sloping plot of land.) In many other countries, the first floor is the first floor *above the ground floor*--what Americans call the second floor.
 
Posted by The Phantom Flan Flinger (# 8891) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bob Two-Owls:
Sandemaniac, I have similar trouble sorting out Fir from Mna in Ireland. In the sense of lavatorial signage that is, I'm not saying Ireland is some kind of cross-dresser's paradise...

I always remember that "fir" rhymes with "sir".
 
Posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by L'organist:
My bête noire is decimated used to imply a massacre or near annihilation.

Decimation means the singling out (and killing) of every 10th soldier in a cohort or legion.

Historically it did. In modern colloquial English it doesn't.
 
Posted by Ariel (# 58) on :
 
Let's try to stick to polar opposite misunderstandings, as per the OP. If we start getting into shades of meaning and grammatical niceties, we could be here for quite some time, rehashing some very old, frequently-run discussions. It's been quite good having something fresh to chat about.

Cheers

Ariel
 
Posted by cliffdweller (# 13338) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
'Disabled Exit' is ambiguous, as is 'this exit is alarmed'.

The door is alarmed, the window is just somewhat unsettled.
 
Posted by Galloping Granny (# 13814) on :
 
At our dental surgery there are clearly signposted 'Patient car parks'.

GG
 
Posted by Jengie jon (# 273) on :
 
I struggle with computer buttons that switch between "stop" and "start" buttons. I tend to read them as the state the program is in rather than the state it will go into if I click on it.

Jengie

[ 23. January 2015, 16:59: Message edited by: Jengie jon ]
 
Posted by Amanda B. Reckondwythe (# 5521) on :
 
There's something especially appropriate about clicking "Start" on a Microsoft operating system when what you want to do is shut down the computer.
 
Posted by Gwai (# 11076) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Sparrow:
Another Pond thing I think is the use of the word "momentarily" which over here means "just for a moment" and over there means "in a moment".

For the record in theory people use these the same way here as you all do there. It's just that people use them incorrectly at lot, here at least. I think it comes from saying things like I'll pop over there momentarily and drop them off. (Where one truly intends not to stay long.)

When in Texas I rather enjoyed the use of "put up" as in if a teacher says, put that toy up, or it's mine. Of course putting it up (away) tended to involve putting it down into a desk.
 
Posted by Gwai (# 11076) on :
 
(Posted before I finished, so missed that we should avoid the grammatical sorts of discussions. Sorry!)
 
Posted by Talitha (# 5085) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by W Hyatt:
I always wonder about designers who choose to mark the two positions of an on/off switch with two circles: one solid (i.e. a disc) and one just a circular line. My guess is that one of them is supposed to look full and the other empty, but who's to say which is which? Or is one of them supposed to look like a light that's on and the other like one that's off? And does it matter if it's done with white paint on a dark background rather than the other way around?

As a child I used to get confused by on/off switches labelled O and I. These days I understand it as binary 0/1, but I used to think they were pictorial, and the O looks more like something that's open or shining, and the I looks more like something that's closed or dim.
 
Posted by Talitha (# 5085) on :
 
And one that I still find really unintuitive is "inside" and "outside" lanes when driving. The one that's at the outer edge of the road is called the "inside" lane. If you move towards the centre of the road to overtake, you're moving "out" to the "outside" lane, in the middle of the road. After overtaking, you're supposed to move back "in" to the "inside" lane, at the outside edge of the road.

I am able to understand and use the terms the standard way round, so I'm not going to cause a crash by misusing them; but I think they're wrong.
 
Posted by Latchkey Kid (# 12444) on :
 
When my bil was learning to use a computer he thought the computer response of Invalid Input was insulting him and would be insulting to invalids.
 
Posted by Kelly Alves (# 2522) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Talitha:
And one that I still find really unintuitive is "inside" and "outside" lanes when driving. The one that's at the outer edge of the road is called the "inside" lane. If you move towards the centre of the road to overtake, you're moving "out" to the "outside" lane, in the middle of the road. After overtaking, you're supposed to move back "in" to the "inside" lane, at the outside edge of the road.

I am able to understand and use the terms the standard way round, so I'm not going to cause a crash by misusing them; but I think they're wrong.

Boy, that's cockamamie. Thanks for letting potential UK drivers know about this.
 
Posted by Kittyville (# 16106) on :
 
To me, it's actually more straightforward than it sounds from that description. It's the outside lane from the point of view of someone travelling on that side of the road - you don't think of the road as being the lanes travelling in both directions, only one. So you start in the inside lane when you join a multilane road, then move to the right into either a centre or outside lane to overtake. (In a right hand drive world, of course).
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
But that is still arbitrary. Inside could easily be the lane closest to the center. Better to say move right, or left as the case may be. When in the UK, move right to pass; when in the US, move left to pass. Easy-peasy. Easier yet, pass towards the driver's side of the car. Works in any country where drivers bother to follow the rules.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
I think it's 'inside' towards the car inside from the driver, 'outside' on the driver's outside. Also, the 'inside' is harder to see from the outside than the outside is to see from the inside.

Either that, or it's related to the inside track being the short track round a bend; the inside being the preferred side to travel on.
 
Posted by Gracious rebel (# 3523) on :
 
In a similar vein, I have trouble with 'offside' and 'nearside'.
 
Posted by Talitha (# 5085) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
I think it's 'inside' towards the car inside from the driver, 'outside' on the driver's outside. Also, the 'inside' is harder to see from the outside than the outside is to see from the inside.

That actually makes sense, thank you! So it's relative to the car, not the road.
 
Posted by daisydaisy (# 12167) on :
 
Going back to road signs, I believe that in the UK a road sign with a yellow background indicates a fatality related to what the road sign is telling you about.
This might be a problem for US drivers where in some states, I understand, a speed limit shown on a yellow background is optional.
 
Posted by geroff (# 3882) on :
 
This is probably a tangent but why oh why do we have a sign in big black letters on a yellow ground under a set of traffic lights which says 'Stop when the light is red.' Or 'Right turners give way to oncoming traffic.' [Mad]
 
Posted by geroff (# 3882) on :
 
Another way of indicating the side of car is Drivers Side and Passenger side.
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
What about "Raised Ironworks" and "Cats' Eyes Removed" (during roadworks)?

Poor pussies.
 
Posted by Sioni Sais (# 5713) on :
 
Apropos roadworks, a RAMP sign indicates anything but an incline. It means "Mind your exhaust, spoilers and catalytic convertor: there's a three inch ridge ahead".
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
And I've always been intrigued by the sign which says "Deep Excavation" - why not just "Big Hole"?
 
Posted by Ariel (# 58) on :
 
"Industrial action" means people sitting around not doing anything for a defined period.

"First refusal" when something isn't currently for sale, but may be in the future, doesn't mean you have been the first person to be refused, but will be the first person to be offered it.

As for "debtors" and "creditors", a creditor isn't someone to whom you've extended credit, it's someone you owe money to. A debtor isn't someone who you are in debt to, they owe you money.

(Edited because I got this confused again.)

[ 30. January 2015, 07:00: Message edited by: Ariel ]
 
Posted by Sioni Sais (# 5713) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:

As for "debtors" and "creditors", a creditor isn't someone to whom you've extended credit, it's someone you owe money to. A debtor isn't someone who has a debt they need to repay you, they owe you money.

That goes some way towards explaining why I am neither a banker nor an accountant. It's just wrong, and I wonder if it is the same in other languages and cultures.
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
*shrug* A creditor is a person who has given credit, just as an employer is someone who has given employment.
 
Posted by Sioni Sais (# 5713) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
*shrug* A creditor is a person who has given credit, just as an employer is someone who has given employment.

Just because it's obvious to you doesn't mean it's so obvious to the rest of us.
 
Posted by L'organist (# 17338) on :
 
What about that lovely roadsign Soft verges?

My all time favourite is usually to be found on the back of a double-decker: Let the bus pull out - as if you have any chance at all of stopping the damn thing (which is invariably driven by someone who pulls out without ever - EVER - looking in their mirror).
 
Posted by Ariel (# 58) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
*shrug* A creditor is a person who has given credit, just as an employer is someone who has given employment.

Employer / employee
Creditor / creditee
Debtor / debtee?
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
I may have said this upthread ... but one of the words I find annoying is "attendee" in the sense of "a person who attends (a meeting)".

But I think that is wrong; surely an "attendee" is "someone who is attended or waited upon"; while a person at a church is an attenDER?
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Sioni Sais:
quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:

As for "debtors" and "creditors", a creditor isn't someone to whom you've extended credit, it's someone you owe money to. A debtor isn't someone who has a debt they need to repay you, they owe you money.

That goes some way towards explaining why I am neither a banker nor an accountant. It's just wrong, and I wonder if it is the same in other languages and cultures.
The joys of a living language. I've not encountered any that do not have idiosyncrasies, but English does seem to be abundantly blessed with them.
 
Posted by Sparrow (# 2458) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
I may have said this upthread ... but one of the words I find annoying is "attendee" in the sense of "a person who attends (a meeting)".

But I think that is wrong; surely an "attendee" is "someone who is attended or waited upon"; while a person at a church is an attenDER?

In the same vein, I have sometimes seen notices on buses or coaches in the UK stating: "x number of seated passengers, y numnber of standees". Aaaaghhh!
 
Posted by basso (# 4228) on :
 
The OED has attendee and standee as 'originally and chiefly U.S.', so we're probably looking at another pond difference. Standee is older; the first citation in the passenger sense is from 1856.
 
Posted by no prophet's flag is set so... (# 15560) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
Traffic lights ought to be the other way round, as well: green for peaceful, restful stop and red for energetic get-your-foot-down and rocket off. I don't have a problem with them as they currently are, but it would feel a bit more natural if the meanings were reversed.

Traffic lights come from ship lights. The right or starboard side is lighted green, with the left or port side lit red. You are "burdened" if you see a red light, and thus must give way. They simply used the marine convention when originally designing traffic lights as far as I know. I like the idea of feeling burdened by traffic lights, and the idea that I can leave my burden right there at the intersection when the light goes green.

An odd traffic sign here states "high collision location strictly enforced" at certain intersections where lots of crashing has occurred.

I've always wondered what would happen in shops and restaurants if you strolled in and asked "how much to pee?" because of the sign "toilets [or restrooms] for paying customers only".
 
Posted by John Holding (# 158) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
*shrug* A creditor is a person who has given credit, just as an employer is someone who has given employment.

Employer / employee
Creditor / creditee
Debtor / debtee?

False parallel I think. "or" and "er" endings are different, though I do not know the significance (if any).

John
 
Posted by churchgeek (# 5557) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bob Two-Owls:
That brings to mind the Yorkshire "while". In South Yorkshire in particular the word while is used like "until" so you might say to somebody "I'm here while five o'clock and then I'm off". Unfortunately level (railway) crossings have a standard sign which used to read "wait here while lights are flashing"...

I learned of that use via the Sisters of Mercy song, "Nine While Nine," a phrase I couldn't make sense of so I googled it. It also reminds me of this:

My roommate's from Pennsylvania Dutch territory (the Pennsylvania Dutch are of German descent, and have a very distinct culture and speech patterns). "Awhile," in her native part of the country, means "meanwhile" or "in the meantime." E.g., the other day, she was going to shovel the sidewalk after we got home, and, alerting me to the fact that she wasn't following me inside, said, "You go on in awhile." Well, I intended to stay in for the night, actually, not just a while. (I think in most of the US, "a while" refers to a duration in time, as in, "It took my roommate a while to shovel the snow, but meanwhile, I was relaxing indoors.")

quote:
Originally posted by Lord Jestocost:
I somehow always end up following the buses around here, and they have triangular rear indicator lights. So when they signal left, what I see is a flashing arrow pointing right, even though it's on the left side of the vehicle. It's the way my mind works.

I have a similar thing, as Penny S has, with the close/open door buttons in elevators (that link is to a photo of the type I mean). I tend to see the mass in the triangles and read them opposite (even though I know better - and, orfeo, I also know doors aren't triangular). So the ones for opening doors have the mass in the center, which, to my brain, indicates closed doors, even though it shows arrows pointing out. If the buttons had only <> instead of filled-in triangles, it might not have the same effect on me; I don't know.

I like this idea better: An icon like this wouldn't so easily confuse my brain.
 
Posted by churchgeek (# 5557) on :
 
Here's another one: "right" meaning "straight." Funnily enough, I've noticed, in my local dialect/accent, anyway, that we tend to pronounce the vowel in "right" as if it were the vowel in "straight" when we're using it that way (though not always). So it's like we're saying, "'raight ahead." I wonder if we're actually using a contraction of "straight," then.


quote:
Originally posted by Palimpsest:
To me the most common confusion is in the street post push buttons to control the walk light at an intersection. It's often unclear what street is meant by which arrow when there are two buttons.

Not exactly relevant to this thread (as it's more of a pond difference), but I was thrown off during my recent trip to Manchester by those crossing signs. The button you press to get the indication when it's safe to cross is where I'd expect it to be - just to your side. But the indicator is directly above it, whereas I'm used to looking across the street for the "walk"/"don't walk" indicator. Had I followed the one across the street facing me in Manchester, I could've been flattened while crossing the street! (My other source of confusion was the nearly complete lack of street signs giving the names of streets. Sometimes they were posted on buildings at intersections, but usually not. There were tons of sign posts pointing directionally toward different destinations, but that's not as helpful as you'd think.)

I first encountered the word "standee" while working at the cathedral in San Francisco. It was used to describe people who were standing in our SRO services Christmas Eve. I couldn't understand why we didn't just say "standers," or "people standing." "Standees" seemed ugly to me. I've also always understood the -ee ending to refer to someone having something done to them, while someone who is doing something is indicated by -er, -or, or -ant.
 
Posted by Enoch (# 14322) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
Traffic lights come from ship lights. ...

I don't think that's correct. I think they come from the lights used on railway signals at night.
quote:
Originally posted by Churchgeek
Not exactly relevant to this thread (as it's more of a pond difference), but I was thrown off during my recent trip to Manchester by those crossing signs. The button you press to get the indication when it's safe to cross is where I'd expect it to be - just to your side. But the indicator is directly above it, whereas I'm used to looking across the street for the "walk"/"don't walk" indicator. Had I followed the one across the street facing me in Manchester, I could've been flattened while crossing the street! (My other source of confusion was the nearly complete lack of street signs giving the names of streets. Sometimes they were posted on buildings at intersections, but usually not. There were tons of sign posts pointing directionally toward different destinations, but that's not as helpful as you'd think.)

Until quite recently the lights were on the opposite side of the road where you would have expected to see them, and most of us still do. I don't know why they've changed.

They've never said "walk"/"don't walk". Since they were introduced 50+ years ago, they've always had a little red or green man.

I'm puzzled by the claim there are no street signs in Manchester. In the UK streets normally have their name on a plate either attached to a building or on a little stand on the pavement. I agree they sometimes aren't that easy to see, but I think you may simply be assuming everywhere signs streets the way your home town (Detroit?) chooses to do it.
 
Posted by no prophet's flag is set so... (# 15560) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
Traffic lights come from ship lights. ...

I don't think that's correct. I think they come from the lights used on railway signals at night.

It's an interesting question. I have the history of ship navigation lighting starting with recommendations in 1836 and railway lighting 2 years later in 1838, but it is from sailing reference material so perhaps some bias. I might suspect some co-occurrence, though the red light appears to have the marine as the first, with the green less clear. Perhaps precedence claims might be history that was claimed to sell the lamps as well?
 
Posted by Leorning Cniht (# 17564) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
Until quite recently the lights were on the opposite side of the road where you would have expected to see them, and most of us still do. I don't know why they've changed.

The newer variety is a "puffin crossing" (or a "toucan crossing" if it includes both pedestrians and a cycle path.) It is claimed that having the box next to you makes it easier to simultaneously watch the light and the oncoming traffic, and also that it's easier for people with poor vision to see.

I'm not sure I'm all that convinced, but ...
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
Traffic lights come from ship lights. ...

I don't think that's correct. I think they come from the lights used on railway signals at night.

It's an interesting question. I have the history of ship navigation lighting starting with recommendations in 1836 and railway lighting 2 years later in 1838, but it is from sailing reference material so perhaps some bias. I might suspect some co-occurrence, though the red light appears to have the marine as the first, with the green less clear. Perhaps precedence claims might be history that was claimed to sell the lamps as well?
On railways, the general indication for "stop" has always been red; however the indication for "go" was often white (not green)until after the Abbots Ripton accident of 1876. Although this accident was partly due to frozen semaphore signals indicating a false "clear" sign (as they could not physically be moved into the "danger" position) rather than by any problem with the lights, it was realised that a broken red spectacle glass over the signal-lamp would also lead to a false "clear" signal, as a white light could be shown. Over the next few years railways therefore moved to green for "go". (It was also less likely that the enginemen would just see an ordinary lamp in a house or on a station, and confuse it with a signal).

The first traffic lights were installed outside the British Houses of Parliament in 1868. They were designed by a railway signalling engineer, and showed a red or green light. Unfortunately they were lit by gas and soon blew up, injuring the policeman who operated them. After that, traffic lights were developed in America.

When I lived in Portugal in the late 70s, traffic lights were still known as "semaforos" - semaphores!
 
Posted by Baptist Trainfan (# 15128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
It is claimed that having the box next to you makes it easier to simultaneously watch the light and the oncoming traffic, and also that it's easier for people with poor vision to see.

I'm not sure I'm all that convinced, but ...

We have some traffic lights near our church, with a "red/green man" pedestrian phase. The indicator is on the far side of the road, but too high up, so people don't see it.

And that's all I have to say on the subject (you'll be pleased to know!)

[ 03. February 2015, 06:59: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]
 
Posted by churchgeek (# 5557) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
I'm puzzled by the claim there are no street signs in Manchester. In the UK streets normally have their name on a plate either attached to a building or on a little stand on the pavement. I agree they sometimes aren't that easy to see, but I think you may simply be assuming everywhere signs streets the way your home town (Detroit?) chooses to do it.

Well, I'm sure I'm exaggerating, and I certainly could've overlooked quite a few of them, being in unfamiliar terrain and easily visually overstimulated. I caught on pretty quickly that when they were present, they were on plaques on buildings - you do see this in the US as well, in downtown areas. (And I am talking about City Centre in Manchester.) But so many times I looked and looked everywhere I could think to look (including that weird San Francisco location - impressed into the sidewalk ["pavement" in the UK]) and couldn't find the name of a street I was on, for blocks. Probably if I spent more time there, and didn't feel in a hurry to cover as much ground as I could in 2 days, it would all make more sense to me.

We do have the problem here in the US - in Michigan, at least - where occasionally a major road won't have its name posted for miles, just the cross-streets. Which is no help at all when you're not sure where you are, as others have mentioned.

But, of course, this is all a bit of a tangent...

(To avoid more of a tangent, I'll just say that in San Francisco, they stamp the street names on the sidewalk - as well as posting it on signposts and often on plaques on the buildings - because apparently in 1906 there was some trouble identifying streets because buildings were so utterly destroyed in the earthquake. And someone figures if that were to happen again, you'd be able to find where the street names were etched in sidewalks that would probably also be destroyed and quite certainly be covered in rubble...)
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by churchgeek:
Well, I'm sure I'm exaggerating, and I certainly could've overlooked quite a few of them, being in unfamiliar terrain and easily visually overstimulated.

I haven't been to Manchester recently, but it wouldn't be the only council in the UK that enjoys playing Dump the Traveller. This game is played by clearly signposting all the streets the traveller needs to take until they get to a some particularly complex junction or tricky turning half way through the journey, at which point the use of street signs is utterly abandoned.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
The newer variety is a "puffin crossing" (or a "toucan crossing" if it includes both pedestrians and a cycle path.) It is claimed that having the box next to you makes it easier to simultaneously watch the light and the oncoming traffic, and also that it's easier for people with poor vision to see.

I'm not sure I'm all that convinced, but ...

It might be easier for people with poor vision. I think watching the lights and the state of the junction simultaneously is easier when the lights are on the other side of the junction straight in front of you.

Also, the puffins have a picture of the green man on them, which caused a moment's awkwardness when we told the Dafling that we couldn't cross until we could see the green man. ('No, not that green man. The shiny green man.')
 
Posted by Augustine the Aleut (# 1472) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
I have problems with that too.

The symbols on car dashboards are also not how I'd have portrayed the concepts they represent and aren't particularly intuitive. Fog (for one) ought to be a little cloud.

Incidentally, I had no idea that this was a possibility in some cars.

Page 2 can be misleading. ABS could simply be yet another insult about my tummy, the lambda symbol indicating that there are lesbian writers ahead, the engine fault indicator that Muslim prayers can be said in this car. On page 3, the attention alert indicator can be taken for a suggestion to take coffee, and with an exclamation mark, a double espresso; the economy alert indicator appears to enjoinder smoking a joint, the power limitation indicator would suggest that we be careful of tortoises on the road (useful near Fitzroy Harbour, Ontario, where I have several times seen large tortoises on the road). Page 1's engine oil lights would be, to most minds, an indication that one must summon a genie to get the car going again.
 
Posted by Drifting Star (# 12799) on :
 
I test drove a car that had a switch labelled TOSS OFF, which startled me somewhat.

(Apparently it was for switching the traction control off, and the 'O' was actually a badly painted 'C'.)
 
Posted by Pigwidgeon (# 10192) on :
 
My car tells me that "ESP" is off. I always think, "Darn! Now I have to steer since it doesn't know where it's going!"

It apparently stands for Electronic Stability Program.
 
Posted by orfeo (# 13878) on :
 
Forgive me for reviving the thread, but several weeks ago I thought of another example but couldn't remember exactly the wording involved... and a few minutes ago I actually stumbled across an email from when it happened.

I used to work on a computer system that would ask for certain kinds of documents "Would you like to save a dated version?".

It meant a version that recorded the date it was created. But in my mind I always instinctively responded that I wanted to do was save a current version.
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
An advert on the website for the radio station I listen to, for a travel agents. "We specialise in every type of holiday". Right, that means they don't specialise in anything.
 


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