"Man without writing cannot long retain his history in his head. His intelligence permits him to grasp some kind of succession of generations; but without writing, the tale of the past rapidly degenerates into fumbling myth and fable. Man’s greatest epic, his four long battles with the advancing ice of the great continental glaciers, has vanished from human memory without a trace."
I've been doing a lot of technical writing recently. In the process of this I've been thinking a lot about the careful choice of words, how they go together and what information they do or don't convey.
With this in mind I became quite upset when driving and saw a sign about a diversion due to a closed road. The sign was about the 'Advanced warning of road closure due to emergency sewer repairs'.
There's two things that jumped out at me. Advanced warning & Emergency. How can you have an advanced warning of an emergency? Emergency implies a sense of urgency, that something must be done NOW!
Think emergency services. You're never going to call them and say "I'm going to have a heart attack. Can you send an ambulance in two days time." or "My house is going to be on fire next Thursday, can you send a fire engine then."
This just completely misuses the word and even concept of an emergency.
My guess is that the intention was to indicate that it was an important, essential or a priority repair that was being done. I'm sure that If I lived near the broken sewer I'd want right now! not in a few days time.
Of all the words that could end up be sanitised and have their meaning diluted, this is one that should be protected. If 'emergency' ended up meaning 'quite important' it would be a terrible thing.
I probably need to get this in early and I imagine I'll refer to it again in the future.
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Any opinions expressed may or may not be mine. I'll do my job and you do yours and together we'll make the world a better place. And if you are not interested in making the world a better place, why not?
I don't want to hurt or offend anyone by what I write here. Just treat it all as made up.