Grammar Does Matter (#2 in an occasional series)

bad grammarOn my way to work this morning I noticed one of those new anti-terrorism posters on the tube. Unfortunately, I’m a little bit confused about the mixed message conveyed by the poster, which consists of a picture of a person on a tube looking at an unattended bag, and has the following text:

“Who owns this bag? Don’t touch, check with other passengers, inform station staff, or call 999”

So, if I’ve got this right, they don’t want us to do anything?

Why not? Why shouldn’t we check with other passengers? Wouldn’t calling 999 be a good idea (although admittedly difficult to do on most of the underground network)?

Or is this just a case of some idiot’s appalling grammar conveying the exact opposite of what was intended?

8 thoughts on “Grammar Does Matter (#2 in an occasional series)”

  1. Actually, somebody else also noticed this and wrote into The Independent about it, sparking an amusing series of letters on a similar theme. The letters pointed out the difficulties involved in complying with instructions like “Stand on the Right” (when what they actually mean is “Don’t stand on the left”), and “Dogs must be carried at all times” (in which case there should really be a selection to choose from at the bottom of the escalator). That’s not to mention the fact that, if you really want to comply with the instruction to “make sure you have all your belongings with you when leaving the train”, you might need a couple of friends to help you off the train before the doors close…

    Ah, public transport. Fun, isn’t it?

  2. Cool – that “Dogs Must Be Carried” sign always has be wondering if a bunch of tourists would be looking round for some canine partners to use for their journey.

  3. I hope you didn’t use a flash for the photo’. It is not allowed by order of London Underground.
    I am also a disgruntled and miserable Technical Author.

  4. Disgruntled? Yes!
    Miserable? No!

    I just like to complain about stuff…

    (by the way, I didn’t take the photo…)

  5. I think it’s like the book “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves”. It’s a case of bad punctuation.

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