Monday, July 21, 2008

Beware of the Linguistic Canons While Driving

In particular, Expressio Unius. Brian Polis sent me this message:

A traffic sign saying "no right turn on red."

Does that mean you can turn left on red (because it said not to make right turns, not mentioning lefts), you can go straight or turn left on red (because those are the two excluded intersection options), you can turn right when it's not red (correct interpretation), or turn right on non-red combined with one of the first two.

The canon's application is remarkably ambiguous (and useless) in the situation, as only dumb luck or an appeal to something else will give the correct interpretation.

4 comments:

Jackson said...

Of similar, though not perfectly analogous, concern:

Exit Only Right Lane

Anonymous said...

If you lost your left hand, your right would be left.

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