December 31, 2002
A Dangerous Ambiguity
If you leave Manhattan by the George Washington Bridge and head for the New Jersey Turnpike, you soon pass a sign with this message:
Grammatically, this could easily be taken as an implied condition, like this common slogan:
Use a Gun
Go to Jail.
I wonder how many drivers have misread the highway sign and decided not to slow down for fear of a traffic ticket.
Posted by Dr. Weevil at December 31, 2002 09:15 PM
There should be either an "or" or an "and" connecting the two clauses to remove the ambiguity. Without the connector, I would interpret it as an implied "and", but I very much doubt the highway officials actually meant that.
I suppose this is testament to my own stupidity, but, frankly, on my first reading of "Slow down Get ticket" I did indeed see it as a warning to keep my speed up (imagining myself driving past it). Makes me wonder how many hapless motorists out there have interpreted those words in like manner.