Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How to Speak Elevator

Welcome, visitors to the United States! While you’re here, you’ll probably have lots of opportunities to ride American elevators. Don’t worry! Navigating them is easy with this handy guide:


1 =
Ground floor OR
The first floor above the ground floor OR
The first floor below the ground floor

2 =
Second floor OR
Second floor not counting the ground floor

14 =
14th floor OR
13th floor OR
Certain death

P =
Parking OR
Penthouse OR
Pool OR
Patio OR
Presidential suite OR
Parking level Pink OR
Parking level Purple OR
Parking level Pocahontas OR

P1 =
Up one floor to lowest level of parking structure OR
Up multiple floors to the highest level of parking structure OR
Down one floor to the highest level of subterranean garage OR
Down multiple floors to the lowest level of parking garage OR

G =
Ground floor OR
Garage OR

GL =
Same as G

G1 =
Up one floor to lowest level of multi-story parking structure OR
Up multiple floors to highest level of multi-story parking structure OR
Down one floor to nearest level of subterranean parking garage OR
Down multiple floors to lowest level of subterranean parking garage OR
Lowest ground floor of a split-level area OR
Highest ground floor of a split-level area

B =
Basement OR
Balcony OR

B1 =
Highest underground level OR
Lowest underground level

R =
Roof OR
Reception OR
Rear door open OR
Restaurant level OR
Retail level

F =
Front door open OR
Fitness center OR
First floor OR
Faculty OR
Sound fire alarm

L =
Lower level OR
Lobby OR
Loge OR
Lower level of underground parking OR
Library OR

LL =
Lower level OR
Lobby OR
Loge OR
Loge Lounge OR

M =
Mezzanine OR
Maternity ward OR
Men’s department

C =
Casino level OR
Conference center OR
Cosmetics department

Two triangles pointing away from each other =
Open door OR
Close door with a hollow gesture of courtesy to the sprinting passenger you’re slamming the door on

Two triangles pointing toward each other =
Close door OR
Feel like you’re doing something productive as doors continue to close at the same speed they would have had you not pushed the button

Telephone symbol =
Call for help OR
You better have a cell phone because it’s the only way anyone will ever know you’re stuck here

Framed elevator inspection certificate =
This elevator has been inspected for safety within the last 12 months OR
The city official who oversees elevator inspections is blowing his bribe money in the Caribbean OR
Thank you for buying this ACME elevator-ready frame. Place your own certificate here.

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Dianne Emley said...

You're hilarious.

June Casagrande said...

Thanks. I just can't believe how inconsistently (and badly) elevator buttons are marked.

Copy Curmudgeon said...

Don't forget that 14 means the 13th floor in many buildings, especially hotels.

June Casagrande said...

Thanks! That's going in right now!

Granny said...

LOVE this!

June Casagrande said...

I'm so glad this resonates with some folks. I've spent years standing in elevators wondering: Do other people find these buttons so confusing, or am I just dense?

Maybe there is hope for me.

: )

Adrian Morgan said...

I've thought about it and I have no comments on this particular post, but it's good to see another blog post from you.

I don't read the Grammar Underground thing regularly because it doesn't provide much of an opportunity to argue with you. :-)

One thing I'd argue with there is your May 23 post on "literally", in which you make the careless claim that people sometimes use "literally" to mean "figuratively". Of course, that's nonsense: people sometimes use "literally" as an intensifier with a figurative referent, but nobody ever uses it to mean "figuratively". As an editor, you can never replace "literally" with "figuratively" in a sentence and preserve the author's intent. Of course, you know this, and you just phrased it clumsily, but I keep hearing this "people use literally to mean figuratively" nonsense and it bugs me.

A suggestion for the words-that-should-get-a-divorce category: have you considered "resounding" and "no"? (That's been bugging me lately, and so has "resounding" and "yes"). Unless you can see yourself going out to the wilderness, standing on a cliff edge, and yelling "NOOOOOOOO!!!!!" into the valley at the top of your voice, then an "emphatic no" is probably a better choice.

June Casagrande said...

I don't think that a resounding "no" means it resounds literally.

: )

I'm a big fan of the word "emphatic," though. So I definitely like that better.

I'm pretty sure I have heard people use "literally" to mean "figuratively," or at least to mean "practically." "I was literally dying I was laughing so hard."

There are better examples, I just can't think of any at the moment. (I'm a good arguer like that.)

: )

Adrian Morgan said...

As I said, "literally" is sometimes used as an intensifier with a figurative referent. For example, "I was literally dying I was laughing so hard" is perceived as a more emphatic (hah!) statement than you'd have if you took the "literally" out.

So "literally" is used to add emphasis. You could say that is its meaning, the fact that it adds emphasis. Whereas the word "figuratively" does not add emphasis. Nobody would say "I was figuratively dying" is a more emphatic statement than "I was dying". Conclusion: if one word does something (adds emphasis) that the other doesn't, then obviously they don't have the same meaning.

In my experience, even figurative "literally" can almost always be understood as "more literally than you might think". Not in your example, perhaps, but I don't come across examples as blatant as that except during online discussions about the word "literally".

June Casagrande said...

Ahh! I see your point now.

CathLab1981 said...

Hi June :)

This is not related to elevators, but as a "Simpsons" fan I thought you might appreciate it anyway. Yesterday I slipped into 7-11 for my free Slurpee, and on the front door there was a sign that read, "Free Slurpees Are Over."

I thought, "I'm not going to let them play me that way." Rubbish, right? I totally left. I should have left them a sign that said, "I'm going the 24 hour grocery store to buy a gallon of 2% milk for $2.99."

June Casagrande said...

Sorry it took so long to get your post up! I was traveling and just got back.

Remember the Simpsons where Apu's been bound and gagged and Bart comes in, doesn't see Apu, walks to the magazine rack and starts flipping through magazines. Apu grunts and struggles and whines till Bart notices him, then Bart goes over, tears the tape off Apu's mouth, and Apu says, "This is not a library."

CathLab1981 said...

No worries and happy tales! Thanks for reading-writing back. Irony? Cartoons supposedly have no foundation in reality, but just words clearly could cloud the mind -- if taken out of my mouth while looking in the mirror...

Dear Glutton, Writing is a comfort, but I wonder who's interested and why? :P


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