August 20, 2006

Another step towards gender equality

The Transportation Security Agency has advised that

We encourage everyone to pack gel-filled bras in their checked baggage.

Bruce Schneier asks

Everyone? Do I have to as well? Where should I go buy one?

This reminds me of a point about intonation and meaning. About 35 years ago, I heard Martin Kay describe a sign on the London Underground that read (as he performed it) "DOGS must be carried". (Here's a more modern version of the sign, courtsy of Annie Moie's London Underground Tube Blog.) I've never figured out a really convincing explanation for why stressing "dogs" seems to encourage the interpretation "everyone must carry a dog", while stressing "carried" encourages the interpretation "if you have a dog, you must carry it".

Posted by Mark Liberman at August 20, 2006 09:37 AM