LINGUIST List 2.518

Mon 16 Sep 1991

Disc: Warning: in case

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  1. , Re: 2.505 Queries
  2. Ron Smyth, Re: 2.515 In case
  3. "Michael Kac", Re: 2.515 In case

Message 1: Re: 2.505 Queries

Date: Sat, 14 Sep 91 11:31:09 PDT
From: <ctlnttviolet.berkeley.edu>
Subject: Re: 2.505 Queries
Re David Powers' query on WARNING - there may be
a legal implication, as with POSTED at the top
of signs one sees in the country in the US. These
are usually no trespassing, no hunting, no swimming, etc.,
types of signs.
Milton Azevedo
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Message 2: Re: 2.515 In case

Date: Sat, 14 Sep 91 17:05:49 EDT
From: Ron Smyth <smythlake.scar.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Re: 2.515 In case
Re: Warning...
The dire consequences of WARNING + imperative can be brought about either
by the authorities who posted the sign, or by the prohibited action, or both.
For example, WARNING: KEEP ARM IN can be seen on Toronto buses (when they're
not on strike - oh, and this raises the question of how transit authorities
should spell the plural of 'bus'; they are inconsistent). It means WARNING:
if you stick your arm out of the bus it might get mangled by a passing
vehicle, bridge, etc. Conceivably it could also mean WARNING: if you stick
your arm out of the bus, the driver has the right to kick you off, but this
is pretty unlikely. However, WARNING: All essays must be submitted by
October 28 means that if you're late, I won't accept the paper, or will give
you a lower mark; it doesn't mean "WARNING: if you turn your paper in late
you might get an ulcer from worrying about it".
ron smyth
smythlake.scar.utoronto.ca
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Message 3: Re: 2.515 In case

Date: Sat, 14 Sep 91 21:32:22 -0500
From: "Michael Kac" <kaccs.umn.edu>
Subject: Re: 2.515 In case
A small empirical datum potentially relevant to the debate about what does
and does not constitute a warning.
On European trains, there are normally admonitions in German, French and I-
talian intended to dissuade passengers from leaning out windows. The German
('Nicht hinauslehnen') and the French ('Ne pas se pencher en dehors') are
simple imperatives. The Italian, however, ('E pericoloso sporgersi') is in
fact a statement that the action is dangerous.
This suggests to me that 'warning' actually has two senses. The first one
is a formal one, the second a functional one. All three of the foregoing
examples are warnings in the second sense if by 'warning' what is meant is
'Linguistic utterance intended to dissuade someone from doing something be-
cause of the danger it poses'. I suspect that there are some other terms which
have become ambiguous in this form/function way but I can't think of any
just now.
Michael Kac
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