Sunday, June 24, 2012

 Pissing English

 The management at Shiok Kopitiam must have had a stinky hard time dealing with male customers who patronise their cafe with a misguided aim. This frank and in-your-face notice says as much : target your discharge inside the toilet bowl, and not on or outside the bowl. Yes, "it will be more grateful". The pronoun "it" appears to be ambiguous: Does it refer to the toilet bowl or the management? We know the toilet bowl is an inanimate object and therefore the expression of gratitude should come from the management. Maybe someone at Shiok Kopitiam has a literary bent and has decided to endow the toilet bowl with human qualities? In other words, the toilet bowl is being personified. However, I think the personification is accidental and the notice should have read: IF YOU CAN TARGET INSIDE THE TOILET BOWL, WE WOULD BE MOST GRATEFUL". The use of "can" here seems to imply that there's a possibility some customers really have a problem with their aim and need to consult a urologist. Furthermore, why "would" and not "should"? The latter carries the weight of obligation that is absent in "would". Hokey, dokey. I'd better get myself out of this stinky business. I would suggest that the notice be worded thus:  IF YOU TARGET INSIDE THE TOILET BOWL, WE SHOULD BE MOST GRATEFUL" This way, there's no ambiguity and no male customers will suffer the ignominy of having their noble aim questioned.