The demise of the adverb

DRIVE CAREFUL PEDESTRIANS MAY BE IN ROADWAYOut on a walk the other evening, I encountered this sign. It was so egregious that I was forced to whip out my cell phone and take a picture. Now this may be a common exercise for you all, but my cell phone is more like an afterthought than an appendage. I had to spend several minutes standing in the roadway while I figured out how to get the picture off the camera and up onto the Internet somewhere. Apparently, the only method on my severely crippled Bluetooth Motorola RAZR (thanks, Verizon!) is to send it to “MY PIX PLACE”. (Have you been counting the number of misspellings this post has forced me into so far?)

Once home, I slogged around the Verizon Wireless website until I finally found MY PIX PLACE, where I can turn the picture into an e-card with a teddy-bear frame, or send it to someone else’s phone, but not, of course, simply download the thing. MY PIX PLACE assures me that the picture has been stored at its “full resolution” (800×600, according to my “gallery”); it’s all there, sure, but I’m not permitted to get at it.

Stupid technology rant aside, the real reason we’re here is the content of the photo. One asks: why was “careful” left stripped of its suffix? Was there an “ly” shortage at the letter factory? Was there too little room to squeeze two more letters in? Why was “careful” given the shaft while “road” was decorated with a completely unnecessary “way”?

We may never know. For now, I’ll just amuse myself by inserting punctuation to correct the grammatical mistake and make it read just a little bit better.


4 of 4 people learned something from this entry.

  1. jim said,

    July 19, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    (Learned something new!)

    The sign is also too verbose. Slow down! might be more effective.

    Consider this local alternative.

  2. wkiri said,

    July 20, 2007 at 8:00 am

    That’s hilarious. :) “Think of the impact you could make!”

  3. LearningNerd said,

    July 20, 2007 at 9:12 am

    I like flat adverbs in the right context, but that definitely doesn’t fit there — and literally, too, it actually doesn’t fit! You’d think they could just use a picture. Not like the one Jim posted, though… I’d be too busy laughing to pay any attention to the road!

  4. Elizabeth said,

    July 20, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    (Learned something new!)

    Gaaaaah! That’s especially appalling because you just know more than one person has to have looked at it before the “finished” product made it to the street. Love your edit, btw; those careful pedestrians are a hazard.

    Out of curiosity, have you tried e-mailing photos to yourself from your phone? That’s how I get mine onto my computer — just enter an e-mail address instead of a phone number when sending.

  5. wkiri said,

    July 20, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    (Learned something new!)

    Okay, I feel silly now. :) The phone interface fooled me — I thought you could only enter numbers as the recipient. I just tested this and it works! I’ve updated the picture here and it now has fewer jpeg artifacts. Thanks, Elizabeth. :) No more PIX PLACE!

    Now if only the Bluetooth data transfer directly to my computer worked. It’s silly to have to pay 25 cents each time I take a cell-phone picture.

  6. LearningNerd said,

    July 20, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    Or you can get a mini SD card for your phone and a mini-to-regular SD card converter. That’s what I got with my new phone, and it works great!

  7. jim said,

    July 20, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    (Learned something new!)

    Phone interfaces are generally not designed by or for human beings. (Can you imagine your “chardoonay” photo with a teddy bear border? Me either.)

    Also worth a look is the Stick Figures in Peril group on Flickr, where signs are an art form (For example)

  8. Geoff said,

    July 21, 2007 at 8:03 am

    Road signs are often terse and sacrifice eloquence and grammar for communicating information fast to people who aren’t always in the best situation to parse language. Hence things like “Ped Xing” — which would be a decent and conventional alternative to this example, though still woefully incorrect from a grammatical point of view.

    Sign usability is interesting, speaking as a recent transplant to Boston. The more non-local traffic a road has, the better the signs tend to be. Interstate highway signs are, in general, fantastic. Steve Krug (“Don’t Make Me Think”) also points out the difference between street signs in LA and Boston, and he’s spot on.

  9. wkiri said,

    July 21, 2007 at 9:02 am

    I completely agree. This sign manages to simultaneously be too long and too wrong. :) All of these signs come down to a single real message, though. I think they should just say what they mean, like:

    DO NOT

    Also, I love the title of Krug’s book. I’m going to add it to my to-read list. :) Thanks!

  10. wkiri said,

    July 21, 2007 at 9:03 am

    And Jim, I love the Stick Figures in Peril. Thanks for the reminder. :)

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