Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Now Hiring Hamburgers

I admit it. I'm not always the poster-child for clarity in writing, but it still hangs me up when I read something that's so unclear I have to read it several times to get the actual meaning. I see this a lot in the books I read, but beyond that even, in the correspondence I receive, on the news tickers at the major news channels and sites, and on signs everywhere.

Ever see the marquee on the front of a fast food chain that says: Now Hiring Hamburgers 99. I don't know if they're hiring 99 hamburgers, or if they want to pay people 99 cents to be a hamburger.

Yesterday on one of the channels following the horrific fires in CA, the headline read: 209 vehicles in Iraq instead of CA. Well, if the state is burning down, I would think the vehicles would be safer elsewhere, wouldn't you? I commented on this to my husband, and as if the gods of clarity heard me, the headline changed to 209 National Guard vehicles in Iraq instead of CA. Well, that's a little more pertinent to the situation.

These are just the incidents I can think of off the top of my head, but it's going on all the time. We've all been reading along in a novel and said "whoa, what did that just say?". Sometimes they're little things, but they should've been caught during an edit somewhere along the way.

I guess my point is that with so many confusing things in the world today, sometimes we need a little clarity in our writing, as well as in our speaking. Since the common joe doesn't seem to be willing or able to clarify their thoughts, it's up to the writers to pick up the slack. Ya know what I mean?

Share an instance in the comments of some unclear writing you've seen - a funny sign, a strange turn of phrase, a mixed-up news story. I think we all could use a laugh.


Wendy Roberts said...

I drove by one of those scrapbooking places the other day and half the lights were burnt out in their advertising sign. It read crapbook. I thought maybe they'd been reading a Thriller I picked up recently LOL.

B.E. Sanderson said...


It could've sold several books I've read over the years. Imagine an entire store devoted to crap.

Erica Ridley said...

209 vehicles in Iraq instead of CA

Bwa ha haa. That cracked me up.

Not a reading thing, but I had a clarity issue with a 9yo the other day as we were walking home from the bus stop.

Me: How was school today?
9yo: Fine. What did you do?
Me: I worked on web sites.
9yo: You make web site?
Me: Yes.
9yo: What kind?
Me: Any kind. For all sorts of different businesses. For example, the one I'm working on now---
9yo: Is it an Internet web site?
Me: ...um, yes. They're all internet web sites.
9yo: Oh. Okay. Can I go play?

Travis Erwin said...

I recently spotted a church sign that read -- Tuesday 6 PM Benefit Dinner for Invisible Children

I wanted to get a pic but it was too dark and all I had was me cell phone camera.

But I instantly thought of slicked up precher pointing to a bunch of invisible chairs, saying trust me these kids are real and we need your moeny to help raise them.

This probably isn't what you meant but it was the first thing to come to my mind.

Tempest Knight said...

*LOL* Newspapers have the funniest titles for their articles.

Kristen Painter said...

This is why I love Jay Leno's Headlines!

Fiona said...

Oh God. Shame on me but I am very dyslexic and am guilty of many of the things you describe.

I think my best effort was when I put a sign up in the village, advertising my services as a petsitter and dogwanker.