What Do They Mean ………?



“What DO they mean?” I came across this advertisement panel at my local shopping mall promoting a men’s skin care facility. Another service for the enlightened metro-sexual male, no doubt. It even offers a facial and a tummy sculpting for the price of one procedure. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I could probably do with some tummy sculpturing but in my case, the end result will probably still not resemble hard and clearly chiseled sculpture abs like
that of Michelangelo’s David; probably more like the abs on the Pilsbury Doughboy. But what really caught my attention was there pledge, boldly emblazoned across the advert, “Looking Good is Not an Option at MSC”. Whatever DO they mean?

So, I may not be a hunk but at least I am cute.

Yes? Maybe? A little? Please?

Anyway, it got me thinking of a few examples of other similar failures to communicate appropriately in the English Language.

A common sign that you will see in Malaysian retail stores during our sales season reads, “Buy one free one”. I remember one foreign tourist asking the sales clerk to explain; “If it is free, why do I have to buy it?” The intended message would be clearer if it said “Two for the price of one.”

Sometimes, you can’t be 100% sure that there was a mistake made or that the sign really does mean what it says. When the Petronas Twin Towers (previously the world’s tallest building) first opened to the public, not all the lifts and escalators were fully operational. On one such lift which was meant to ferry visitors from the underground carpark up to the lobby was this sigh that read, “Lift is out of order. Any convenience is deeply regretted.”

What do you think? A language error or the work of a sadistic maintenance worker?

Another favorite of mine was a sign at a teachers’ training workshop which read like this; “After lunch, the Modern Maths workgroup will meet in the larger half of the hall.”

The “larger half”? Is that what they mean by “modern” maths or is it that mathematics is finally reconciling itself to the fact that in this world, the reality is that all people are equal but some are more equal than others?

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