Wednesday, January 23, 2013

SYNTAX

Every morning as I wait for FrontRunner at Murray Central, I observe a small electronic screen that posts scheduled times for FrontRunner trains impending. (I use "impending" somewhat loosely.) In conjunction with the scheduled times on the sign, I hear an electronic voice, announcing the number of minutes until the train is scheduled to depart. Up until yesterday, it sounded like this to me:

WKSHWCWPQ TRAIN IS SCHEDULED TO DEPART, IN 2 MINUTES

(The comma is intentional, even though it is not grammatically correct; it represents the pause the electronic voice always makes before saying the number of minutes.)

Then, yesterday, I finally understood:

THE TO OGDEN TRAIN IS SCHEDULED TO DEPART, IN 2 MINUTES

(The word order here is also intentional, though incorrect; this is what the voice actually said.)

It actually makes sense, if you think of the train as a "To Ogden" train instead of an "Ogden" or a "Northbound" train. But I honestly never understood it until yesterday.

My new understanding was confirmed by the voice at Salt Lake Central that afternoon:

THE TO PROVO TRAIN IS SCHEDULED TO DEPART, IN 2 MINUTES

Then, because I finally understood it, the announcement promptly changed. Today the voice said:

THE TRAIN TO PROVO IS SCHEDULED TO DEPART, IN 2 MINUTES

and I understood it immediately. It's amazing what a difference syntax makes.

1 comment:

  1. I do like seeing Pleasant View on the message boards, even though it may only be two trips.

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