Under the big space, you may find a 'Road to Nowhere' sentence

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/03/09 09:16 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2008/03/09/8114778.aspx

Please read the disclaimer; content of Michael Kaplan's blog not approved by Microsoft!

The other day I popped by Yaniv's office to ask him a question (I will be blogging about the fruits of that conversation another day) and while I was there he gave me a copy he had of an instruction manual.

It was for a HID (High Intensity Discharge) Xenon headlight, and it had an interesting sentence in the instructions.

Now the whole manual was full of difficult to parse English, don't misunderstand me on that point.

There are wrong word choices, odd word choices, unusual word order issues, and more.

And the majority of them actually could be parsed.

But this sentence was different:

1. Turn on the head cover car turn off the motor after 10-15ms Cooling, take off the Lamp frame. Under the big space, it needn't to be moved.

I think the intended meaning was:

Turn on the motor.
Open the lamp head cover.
Turn off the motor.
After 10-15 seconds cooling, take off the lamp frame.
It needn't to be moved under the big space.

But even that does not seem like a 100% job. Between the wrongly order words, the lack of punctuation, the missing words, the incorrect punctuation, the strange capitalization, and more. There is a picture connected to the words but it doesn't really help much, even with the information about the "big space."

Now there are garden path sentences, and I have talked about them before (like here and here and here).

But this is different.

It makes you stop and go back to try and re-parse like any good Garden Path Sentence (e.g. "The horse raced past the barn fell.").

But in this case there is no way to save the meaning. You just can't get there from here.

Thus it seems to me like kind of a (apologies to David/Chris/Jerry/Tina) Road to Nowhere sentence!

How would you parse it?

Any guesses on the initial language that led us down this "dead end" road?



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referenced by

2008/09/13 Where the boys aren't garden path sentences

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