January 05, 2005

Receiving what condition their condition is in

Francis Heaney responds to Geoff Pullum's story of recorded alarms at PHL with an account of "the idiosyncratic language used whenever a fire alarm is set off in the Conde Nast building":

"May I have your attention, please. May I have your attention. This is your fire safety command station. We have received a condition on the 16th floor."

A condition is generally not a good thing to have or to receive:

So if you already know you have a condition that's linked to infertility, even one miscarriage is cause for concern and testing.

If a physician wants to report a patient who has a condition making driving unsafe, is there any legal protection for the physician making the report?

M2 Has a condition for which the degree of risk to public health or safety is not sufficient to exclude admission, but which risk should be considered in relation to other personal and social criteria.

One out of 14 have a condition that substantially limits one or more basic physical activities.

ERZ017012E, Program 'programName' received an unexpected condition conditionNumber.
Explanation: A program received a condition that is not a CICS condition.

Skill Evaluation. If your performance in a skill area does not meet the standard, you will receive a "condition" in that area.

Every time we will receive a condition of life, a circumstance that's painful or humiliating, and receive it from God's hand as coming from Him, we have an opportunity to learn of Him.

As we find, there have been outside influences which have produced a real nervous shock to the system in such a nature that the reflexes from the cerebrospinal centers, and the cerebrospinal center itself, have received a condition which prevents their coordination.

Given the several apparently neutral meanings of condition as "a mode or state of being", "state of health ... readiness or physical fitness", "existing circumstances", etc., you'd expect that a condition on the 16th floor might sometimes be a very good thing, say a prize for floor of the month, or leftover food and drink from the Directors' meeting. But not likely. As Francis points out, the best you can realistically hope for is that the announced condition turns out to be "unwarranted". I wonder if the "disease or physical ailment" meaning has infected the other uses of the word, or if other negative connotations (perhaps from the language of negotiation) have tainted the "state of health" and other meanings?


Posted by Mark Liberman at January 5, 2005 06:23 AM