LINGUIST List 2.549

Mon 23 Sep 1991

Disc: Warning

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Mimi Klaiman, WARNING
  2. bert peeters, 2.539 Warning

Message 1: WARNING

Date: Sat, 21 Sep 1991 14:38:55 -0500
From: Mimi Klaiman <>
Subject: WARNING
I agree with Christine Kamprath that it's dangerous to
ascribe the differing content of German, French and other
warning messages to cultural differences. Last time I
rode the Calcutta subway--earlier this year--there were
Hindi and Bengali language versions of a warning about
leaning on the sliding exit/entrance doors. The Hindi
one merely said leaning on the doors is forbidden, while
the Bengali one more solicitously said that leaning on
the doors is dangerous. I didn't ask anyone but I doubt
it would have been unnatural had the Bengali one like the
Hindi one simply forbidden people to lean on the doors.
M.H. Klaiman
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Message 2: 2.539 Warning

Date: Sun, 22 Sep 91 9:56:55 EST
From: bert peeters <>
Subject: 2.539 Warning
> From: (Christine Kamprath)
> This is in reply to Bruce Fraser's suggestion that the different content
> of warning signs in French, German and Italian may be some indication
> of cultural difference. WARNING: it's very dangerous to start thinking
> along those lines.
> (...)
> I just don't
> think we can make any inferences about cultural differences from how
> these signs are worded, especially not the French, German and Italian
> ones.
It is AS DANGEROUS to ignore the possibility of cultural differences as it
is to underwrite their existence unreservedly. Christine Kamprath seems
to come very close to doing the former, whereas Bruce Fraser (whose side
I choose in this discussion) is not quite doing the latter (cf. the wording
above - I trust it reflects Fraser's real views: "may be some indication
of cultural difference").
Dr Bert Peeters Tel: +61 02 202344
Department of Modern Languages 002 202344
University of Tasmania at Hobart Fax: 002 207813
GPO Box 252C
Hobart TAS 7001
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