No Smoking Prohibited By Law

The sign says:

No Smoking
Prohibited By Law

But it should say:

No Smoking
By Law


Smoking Prohibited By Law


No Smoking
Smoking Is Prohibited By Law

Why? Because it almost sounds as if not smoking is not allowed. In other words, it sounds like everyone must smoke.

Obviously people are not really going to conclude that they must smoke when they see this sign, but all the same, the English is not quite right.

Prices are subjected to service charge and tax

The menu at Tim Ho Wan, a nice restaurant for dim sum, says:

All the prices shown above are subjected to 10% service charge & 7% GST.

It should say ‘subject to’ and not ‘subjected to’. If I’ve seen this error once, I’ve seen it a thousand times…

In the phrase “subject to [noun]”, the word ‘subject’ is an adjective. The phrase can mean “vulnerable to [noun]”, “able to be affected adversely by [noun]”, “likely to suffer from [noun]”, “possibly required to undergo [noun]”. Here are some examples.

Those with certain medical conditions are subject to violent and debilitating seizures.

Hastily written emails are subject to misinterpretation.

In those days, all mail was subject to inspection by censorship authorities.

In the phrase “subjected to”, the word ‘subjected’ is part of a passive verb. The phrase “to subject [someone or something] to [some process]” means “to inflict or impose [some process] on [someone or something]”. Here are some examples.

The trainees were subjected to a rigorous training program.

All our prototypes are subjected to thorough stress-testing.

Many citizens object to the practice of subjecting prisoners to torture.

So listen up, would-be restaurant menu writers: if you say that all prices are subjected to service charge and tax, to careful readers, it sounds as if service charges and taxes are kinds of torture that you are carrying out, and your prices are the victims.

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that all restaurant patrons are subjected to service charge and tax!

I’m a little snowflake.

Sometimes alternative words to songs just come to me. Look what happened to “I’m a little teapot”!

I’m a little snowflake, perfect bright;
Don’t you dare insult or slight
Any little thing I do or say,
Or else I’ll make you rue the day.

I love children, but sometimes I do not love their parents. Never having been a parent, perhaps I shouldn’t criticize. On the other hand, most parents have never been teachers, and some of them make teachers’ jobs much harder…

(I made the illustration in Photoshop using a free stock image from Pixabay. The variety—and the tagging—is pretty pathetic, but sometimes Pixabay has exactly what I’m looking for. In this case, a photo of a girl wearing a suitably smug expression.)

My phone is dead. Long live my phone!

This is the (long) story of the end of the life of my 2008 phone. It was a good (long) life, and it had a good end. Not every phone is so lucky.

My phone was a Samsung i900 Omnia. People would ask me if I had a smartphone, and I would say, “Yes, but it’s a stupid smartphone.” It was a minicomputer with a touchscreen and a data plan, but it couldn’t do the things that their smartphones could do, because—let’s face it—technology has changed a lot since 2008.

I’m finally catching up. Or starting to. I have to admit, my 2013 Sony still seems rather baffling…

Continue reading My phone is dead. Long live my phone!

Atrium Book Sale

Singapore is not a great place for book bargains. However, I have had some luck with book sales that travel around and set up in shopping mall atriums. (Atria. Happy now, Firefox spellcheck?)

If I were the roadrunner, this would be the perfect trap for the coyote to set up. I would fall right in it.

…and I did!
Then I found this…

Now, no doubt I have some books that are pretty useless to me. In fact, you could say that at any given time, all my books except for about three of them are useless to me. Some, like the ones written in Thai, Greek, Korean, Arabic or Burmese, are likely to remain useless to me forever.

Still. Still, I ask you. Of what possible use is a book on ROCKHOUNDING IN IDAHO to anyone in Singapore? I mean, I love rocks—and books, obviously—and I fully understand the notion of armchair travel. And yet. This book. It cannot help me find rocks in Idaho as long as I am physically in Singapore.

Am I right? Seriously, this book is never going to sell…

I mean, for the same money, you’d clearly be better off with Daytrips from Washington, DC.

Dengue warrior

It would be hard to overstate the extent to which I hate mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are deadly serious. But this banner is still funny.

For one thing, that warrior, with his Roman helmet, looks really out of place in Southeast Asia. The text at the bottom takes the cake, though.

It says:


Lists that aren’t parallel are a pet peeve of mine. Lists should be all nouns or all verbs. Here we’ve got a noun and two imperatives. Sigh.

Furthermore, that ‘life’ should be ‘lives’. The fact that it isn’t testifies to the frequency of singular/plural errors in Singapore.

And then finally, there’s no punctuation after the last item of the list!

I recommend:


Now I’m totally with you, out-of-place Roman centurion.