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Friday, October 15, 2010

This Is What Passes For English Nowadays!

No Enter sign at airportI was walking through Terminal 1 of the Chicago O'Hare airport recently when a sign caught my attention. It was a giant sign that simply said "No Enter" as seen on the photograph to the left. The sign certainly made me do a double-take.

"No Enter"? It is not "No Entry", or "Do Not Enter". I made sure I was not misreading the sign, and also that no part of the sign was obscured to cause the sign to be grammatically absurd. But, no, the sign was as I read it, and no part of the sign was obscured or hidden.

And this is not some small hand-written sign posted outside a restroom by a janitor or something like that either. This is a large LCD screen filled with these words, obviously put up there by someone who should know better. It is a sign operated either by United Airlines, which operates from this terminal, or the airport itself.

I don't know whether there was a problem at this location with lots of people not understanding properly worded signs and just entering where they were not supposed to. So, perhaps, somebody decided that if you couldn't beat them, you had to join them by putting up signs in broken English also. Or maybe, several levels of employees at the airport or at the airline simply don't know enough English to realize that "No Enter" makes no sense at all.

It reminds me of the controversy surrounding proposals that are frequently floated to make English the "official language" of the US. I wonder what that would mean. If it means that everyone would have to take a test in English and people who fail would be sent out of the country, I wonder how the US would manage with only half or a third of the people who currently live here!

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