Innocently leaving off a comma or apostrophe can give a written statement an entirely new, and often less desirable, meaning. Misspelling a word can also have the same unintended consequence.
A meme currently doing the rounds by email, whose origin and authenticity is unknown, demonstrates some of the ways that simple errors can make for amusing or even embarrassing situations for the relevant business.
It could be a spelling mistake or the wording order that presents an unintended interpretation – a situation that airline Cathay Pacific recently discovered when a simple typo in its logo forced it to repaint one of its planes.
(The airline took the blunder in stride on social media and made light of the situation, which generated plenty of positive comments from customers pleased to see it has a sense of humour).
And sometimes there may be no mistake in the words used at all, but the level of situational awareness (or lack thereof) that delivers an unintended meaning.
In an office tower:
Toilet out of order please use floor below
In a laundromat:
Automatic washing machines: Please remove all your clothes when the light goes out
In a department store:
Bargain basement upstairs
In an office:
Would the person who took the step ladder yesterday please bring it back or further steps will be taken
In an office:
After tea break staff should empty the teapot and stand upside down on the draining board
Outside a second-hand shop:
We exchange anything – bicycles, washing machines, etc. Why not bring your wife along and get a wonderful bargain?
Notice in health food shop window:
Closed due to illness
Spotted in a safari park:
Elephants please stay in your car
Seen during a conference:
For anyone who has children and doesn’t know it, there is a day care on the 1st floor
Message on a leaflet:
If you cannot read, this leaflet will tell you how to get lessons
On a repair shop door:
We can repair anything. (Please knock hard – the bell doesn’t work)