We’ve all done it–either misstated something or slightly mangled a common statement or cliche, and the result was a humorous sentence that didn’t make sense. I call this “close but no cigarette.”
One of our blogger friends, Pamela Villars, recently posted a comment about such an example. She’d heard a news report stating that “The city will replant the trees that it has cut down.” I doubt that planting those now-dead trees is going to work; they’d be better off planting new trees.
I recently came across a Web site that highlighted many erroneous statements, most of which were written in non-English-speaking countries, which makes the mistakes more understandable–but not any less funny.
Here are a few examples (for the entire article, read Whoops! That’s not what I meant):
In an Acapulco hotel: The manager has personally passed all the water served here. (He must spend a lot of time in the bathroom.)
In a cemetery: Persons are prohibited from picking flowers from any but their own graves. (Remind me not to go to this place when the moon is full.)
In a Japan hotel: You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid. (Talk about customer service!)
The credit goes back to you. I’m sure I wouldn’t have noticed a year ago.
Your examples also make it clear that everyone needs a good editor. If you were Miss Manners, I’d ask how we could approach the managers to suggest a change.
So, what is the grammar etiquette here?
Thanks, Pamela–but you give us too much credit.
We’ve given talks on the topic, but we haven’t approached managers. If someone wanted to do that, then the best thing might be to bring in examples of mistakes and talk about the importance of doing things correctly–and do so in a respectful manner.