DD’s new (to her) town home is in an addition that has a gate at the entrance. It is a very nice neighborhood, but isn’t a huge, pretentious one like I have always thought of when I hear “gated community”. It is just a nice neighborhood of town homes with the extra security of a gate.
A couple of DD’s girlfriends had a party for her and her daughters Saturday night — a starting-your-new-life party. And it was a lovely party . . . once you got in! But a continuing theme to the conversation at the party was the trouble some of us had getting through the gate.
To make a long story a little shorter (yes, I can do that, if I work realllly hard at it!), on the invitation we were told that to get through the gate we needed to enter #3400 on the key pad next to the gate. Simple enough, right? Well apparently not, because there were some really funny stories about the repeated attempts some guests made to get in, including randomly calling neighbors who were listed in the electronic directory, because DD isn’t listed yet, to ask for their help getting in. And my favorite story was the friend who decided that since the code didn’t work when she entered it, she must be trying to get into the wrong neighborhood, so she drove away twice to look for another near-by neighborhood with a gate (all the while repeatedly calling her husband for advice on how to find DD and leaving DD hysterically funny voice mails about her dilemma), before returning for a third try and finally figuring out how to get in.
Here was the problem. We were all entering “3 4 0 0” Do you know what we should have been entering? This, “# 3 4 0 0“. Would you have thought to enter the pound sign? Those of us who had trouble getting in were seeing that as a numbers sign, so we were just reading the instructions as “enter the number 3400″.
I’ve been told that the English language is, by far, the most complicated in the world. But wouldn’t you think “complicated” would translate into “precision accuracy”? So, my observation is that even with all this complex English language stuff, we’ve apparently not been specific enough about the intended function of symbols as just silent assistants to words and numbers, rather than, as in this case, the symbols being a part of the word or number.
I received a forwarded e-mail recently that seems to address this problem too. It said something like this:
“How would you pronounce this new baby’s name? Le-a”
It then gave you several ways it might be pronounced . . . le-ah, lee, la-ah.
But, nope, none of those were what the new mother had in mind, so mis-pronunciations of her new baby’s name were already frustrating her. Her quote went something like this, “That dash ain’t silent!!” Her intention was for the name to be pronounced, “la-dash-ah”.
I see myself as providing a public service here by bringing up these two examples where symbols have been very important to meaning! So, just consider yourself forewarned. And, if you encounter a person whose name is written “Qtr#er” — using my new-found knowledge, I would guess it’s pronounced “Quarterpounder”!
Sometimes a “pound” is really important somewhere other than at Weight Watchers!