Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sprechen Sie Stupid

The other day I noticed that the passenger safety card reads "any passenger that does not speak or read English must not sit in an exit row" in three languages. The funny part is that one of the three languages in which it does so is English. That's not going to stop a Spanish speaker from letting me know he's in the wrong row. What it's going to do is confound me for hours each day as I try to figure out exactly who the target audience of that one English sentence is.


Blogger Colin Summers said...

That's very similar to the message outside U.S. post offices which says: "No dogs allowed, guide dogs excepted." Because the only people that need to read the exception aren't going to be able to read the exception, right?

No. There are people looking into the post office who think, "Hey, dogs ARE allowed, look at Stevie Wonder in there." In a similar vein, the English on your card is for the person who you displace, or who loses their sleep seat to a non-English speaker who moves out of the exit row. They're thinking, "What the hell? Why do THEY get to move?" and that little sign tells them.

Of course, it's silly to need to tell them because no one NEEDS an excuse to get out of the exit row. They can just say, "Even if this plane is on fire, I don't want to help people get out."

11:02 AM  
Blogger bigpeteb said...

Actually, having been in a foreign country where I can sort of speak the language, but not proficiently, I think it makes sense. I could probably read a sentence like that and realize that I don't have the language chops to do the job.

10:11 AM  

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