Thursday, September 13, 2007

English language campaigners blast public signs

LONDON (AFP) - Campaigners for the English language on Thursday attacked a growing tendency for "obvious" public information posters, such as a police sign urging people: "Don't Commit Crime."
Other examples highlighted by the Plain English Campaign -- which fights for the effective use of English -- include "Warning: Platform ends here" on the end of rail station platforms, and "May cause drowsiness" on sleeping pills.
"It's a phenomenon we noticed in recent years -- a kind of talking in a vacuum. There are so many examples," said a spokesman, citing notably packets of nuts labelled "Warning: contains nuts."
"The 'best' one I have come across was a sign reading 'Caution: water on road during rain'.
"They assume a lack of intelligence on the part of the reader. 'Do not commit crime. Pay for your fuel' is hardly a deterrent to a criminal who has every intention of driving off without paying."
Hertfordshire Police said the "Don't Commit Crime" sign was part of a campaign aimed at stopping motorists driving away from petrol stations without paying for fuel.
"If stating the obvious helps to reduce crime or has any impact at all we will do it," said a spokeswoman. "We are not saying it is going to stop hardened criminals, but it may make someone who is nervous think twice."
The Plain English Campaign cited other examples including:
-- "May irritate eyes" -- on a can of self-defence pepper spray;
-- "Do not open door while airborne except in emergency" -- on emergency exit doors in planes;
-- "Removing the wheel can influence the performance of the bicycle" -- from a Dutch bicycle manual;
-- "Do not iron clothes on body" -- from packaging on a steam iron.
Supermarket Tesco -- which also warns shoppers that cream contains milk and that salted butter contains milk and salt -- defended itself, saying it gave customers "all the possible information they should need."
The Plain English Campaign said politicians were also guilty of the trend.
"Politicians declaring 'We are taking the terrorist threat very seriously', or 'We are committed to improving the health service' is just rhetoric," he said.
He added: "Our advice would be say what you need to plainly and simply then stop. If nothing needs to be said, say nothing."
Political Correctness - Infantilise you, insulting your intelligence and stealing your freedom since 1917.
Hertfordshire Police should be ashamed of itself for such a blatant waste of taxpayers money.

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