Sometimes the oddest things just irk me.
This sign is present outside of an area where various things are loaded and unloaded in the hospital’s hallway. Some of those things would seem very attractive to certain types of individual. The sign is there, of course, to basically keep honest people honest; a dedicated malfeasant wouldn’t give a good damn about the sign and would simply boost whatever he wanted, figuring — arguably correctly — that the odds of a clean escape were in his favor.
Okay, so what’s the problem?
Well, it seems that — despite the constant video surveillance — someone’s managed to steal our verb.
What is it about the control/domination mentality that seems to be verb-phobic? I know about imperative form, but that tends to using an implicit subject (“Freeze!” with the you understood), not an implicit predicate (“You!” wouldn’t make much sense, would it? John 11:35 is kind of pointless without the verb; what meaning does Jesus have without wept ?).
It seems to me that dropping crucial parts of speech on this sign might be a bit much, particularly since there are no commands being issued; there’s just a statement about the state of being of the location — which would seem to make the missing verb all that more significant, since it is, after all, the focus of the message. While the sign certainly gets the point across, it wouldn’t suffer for the presence of a little is to round out the grammar, would it?
It can’t be argued, either, that the is was omitted in order to save space. Is is a tiny word. There’s plenty of room for it on this sign. Yet for some reason it was decided that this sign read better as a piece of bad comic-book monologue.*
And why is, particularly? Why not start randomly eliding other parts of speech? If we dropped the subject, for instance, we’d end up with this under constant video surveillance — and better yet, we’d have room again for the is.
Or we could drop the preposition and really confuse the hell out of our possible miscreant: This is constant video surveillance. A post-modern comment on life, or a Kafkaesque cry of despair?
And the adjective constant isn’t necessarily that precise; sometimes the video surveilling is being done by a camera and VTR. But a sign reading this area under a combination of live human and automatic videotape-recording surveillance might not pack the same wallop.
Instead of having an inaccurate sign with poor syntax and a bad attitude, wouldn’t it just make the most sense to never leave stealable items alone in any area? To just have someone actually physically there, making sure nothing got stolen?
Probably not — probably someone would suggest putting a video camera on the employee.
And then the sign would read Notice: Employees under constant video surveillance.
* “Losing … strength! Too weak … too much … bad grammar** … Passing out…”
** As Kryptonite is to Superman, so behaves terrible grammar to writers.
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