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Funny misunderstandings - CPE exam + GAME Options
dave freak
Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 4:43:12 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/29/2013
Posts: 1,584
Neurons: 6,336
Although I have already graduated from university and now am teaching English in a both private and public school (or maybe "in both a private and a public school?Think ), I'm eager to expand my vocabulary and enhance my grammar skills even more. In other words, as a non-native, I'm always a student of the language. I'm preparing for a CPE exam which is difficult to pass for many native English speakers. That's why it takes a really long time to feel prepared for it.

My academic teacher has provided me with the activity in which there are some language misunderstandings, stemmimg from the wrong use of the words which have more than one meaning. My task is to make them sound right and clear in meaning. They're just ambiguous as they stand. Some of them gave me a laugh. Since they are headings, and I wrote them in upper case. Here they are:


1. (In a Laundromat)

AUTOMATIC WASHING MACHINES: PLEASE REMOVE ALL YOUR CLOTHES WHEN THE LIGHT GOES OUT. (haha)

My correction:
AUTOMATIC WASHING MACHINES: PLEASE put ALL YOUR CLOTHES out WHEN THE LIGHT GOES OUT.

2. (Notice in health food shop window)

CLOSED DUE TO ILLNESS

My correction:
It's very ambiguous. Does it mean that shop workers are ill? Or maybe there is an outbreak of the flu epidemic?


3. (spotted in a safari park)

ELEPHANTS PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR

My correction:

ELEPHANTS, PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR. or ELEPHANTS - PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR.

4. (Outside a second-hand shop)

WE EXCHANGE ANYTHING -BICYCLES, WASHING MACHINES, ETC. WHY NOT BRING YOUR WIFE ALONG AND GET A WONDERFUL BARGAIN?

My correction:

WE EXCHANGE ANYTHING -BICYCLES, WASHING MACHINES, ETC. YOU CAN COME TOGETHER WITH YOUR WIFE AND GET A WONDERFUL BARGAIN.

I don't know how to get rid of ambiguity here.


***GAME***


My homework was to come up with some grammatically correct, albeit ambiguous sentences. Can you play the game with me guys? I will start:

(In a toy shop) Don't touch the balls! Whistle

Thank you!
Wilmar (USA)
Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 11:03:47 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/4/2015
Posts: 568
Neurons: 108,937
Location: Vinton, Iowa, United States
Please remove clothes from the washing machine when the cycle is complete. (This instruction is posted so that the machine becomes available for the next person to use.)

The shop is closed because the owners or employees are ill and not able to work.

Elephants are present; remain in your car for your own safety.

We exchange anything... this one is a deliberate attempt at humor, which isn't working.
Try this, and forget about replicating the humor.
.. We exchange bicycles and most small household appliances. Come in to see the many bargains.



There is little to no humor in your version of the game. You're on your own with that.
Romany
Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 1:13:02 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 12,166
Neurons: 36,977
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
Hey Dave -

Yes, I can see how a couple of them made you chuckle!

I think you've done well to correct them. However: -

Just an oversight, I'm sure, but you've mixed up 'put' and 'take'. So your first sentence should read " Please TAKE out clothes when the light goes OFF".

No. 2 is a common sign in English. If it were a huge shop with lots of different floors, then one would assume it was a viral infection has smitten the entire workforce.

But usually its only in smaller businesses one sees it. I think it's left deliberately ambiguous: the illness might not be the shopkeepers own; but could be that of a relative or child who needs to be looked after. It's nor really any of our business: the only thing of importance to us is that the place is closed!

Yes, good. Of course the next sentence needs a full stop, But elephants are very big - and a great bull elephant charging is terrifying. So, I think, to signal danger I'd put "Elephants! Please stay in your car".

You did a good job on the last one - one of the ones that was funny - of removing the ambiguity and thus the opportunity for people to laugh. However "come together with..." is not a phrase we use in English. (You know how lay we are!). We say 'come with'. But I think we can keep some of the original wording and say "Why not bring the wife along, so each of you can get a bargain?"

As for your sign in a sports shop - "Please don't play with balls" might also fit? (I made it a sports shop, because in a toyshop, with little kids around, some mums might be annoyed by the innuendo.)

dave freak
Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 4:54:59 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/29/2013
Posts: 1,584
Neurons: 6,336
@ Wilmar

Thank you for your suggestions. I appreciate it.

Quote:
There is little to no humor in your version of the game.


I infer that the highlighted words mean "hardly any". Is that right? Could I say "there is little or no humour..."? I just don't know what the "to" is doing here. Is it a fixed phrase?

@ Romany


Yes, I've mixed them by mistake. Just a slip of the pen. Thank you very much for really handy tips. What struck me is that two people speaking the same language gave totally different versions, which shows how different the instrument (the language) we all play is. Wonderful!

One more which is extremely ambiguous:


(In an office)

WOULD THE PERSON WHO TOOK THE STEP LADDER YESTERDAY PLEASE BRING IT BACK OR FURTHER STEPS WILL BE TAKEN.

LOL!

EDIT!
Romany
Posted: Wednesday, July 12, 2017 4:10:58 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 12,166
Neurons: 36,977
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

Dave - I've noticed Wilmar rarely returns for a 2nd post, so:

Think about a scale of 1 to 10 with a pointer. It measures humour. A top comedian speaks for a few minutes and the pointer goes from 1 to 10 within 2 seconds. Then a bad comedian comes on and the pointer goes from 10 right down to 2. But then someone else comes on and the pointer goes from a little bit (two ) right down to zero.....does that help? For some reason "Little OR no...." sounds a little strange.

But I'm sure even Wilmar would find the stepladder notice of yours amusing!

Something that always makes me laugh (sometimes - depending on where it is - out loud!) is the sign "THIS DOOR IS ALARMED".

So I sometimes give it a pat on the way in and say "Never mind. No need to be alarmed. Everything's fine." - much to my children's mortification!
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Wednesday, July 12, 2017 6:16:21 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/21/2009
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Location: Helsinki, Southern Finland Province, Finland
How was it when Past, Present, and Future walked into a bar?

It was tense.


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
srirr
Posted: Wednesday, July 12, 2017 6:50:11 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 12/29/2009
Posts: 5,106
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Location: Delhi, NCT, India
Nice post, Dave. In fact there are some sentences which are not supposed to, but do mean otherwise, sometimes humourous.

When posted as a sign or notice, the extent is purposely kept to be smaller. This may create confusion or ambiguity. But that's the common style.



We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. ~ Swami Vivekanand
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, July 13, 2017 2:58:57 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 26,242
Neurons: 139,838
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom


There are 56 pages of these here (though a few of the early ones have been deleted . . .)


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Romany
Posted: Thursday, July 13, 2017 3:28:36 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 12,166
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
Oh that's charming!

I wonder if the Editor who missed that one kept their job?
srirr
Posted: Friday, July 14, 2017 12:59:11 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 12/29/2009
Posts: 5,106
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Location: Delhi, NCT, India


We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. ~ Swami Vivekanand
dave freak
Posted: Friday, July 14, 2017 4:27:37 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/29/2013
Posts: 1,584
Neurons: 6,336
Thank you guys. You're all wonderful! Applause
Romany
Posted: Friday, July 14, 2017 10:11:22 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 12,166
Neurons: 36,977
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

Yep. I reckon Srirr's image really takes the biscuit!
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