January 04, 2005

He just dropped in to see what condition our condition was in

Reading Language Log's story of fire alarms gone awry immediately reminded a bunch of us here at Cargo of the idiosyncratic language used whenever a fire alarm is set off in the Conde Nast building. First we are told this (question marks have been replaced with periods to more accurately convey the proper tone of voice):

"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."

That message then repeats once. When it later turns out that there is no fire after all, this message is heard: "After further investigation, it was an unwarranted alarm."

I just love the phrases "received a condition" and "unwarranted alarm". In particular, saying that one has "received a condition" makes me think that god has seen fit to give that person a chronic knee problem. Clearly no copyeditors worked on that script.

Posted by Francis at 02:17 PM | TrackBack

His tone is deliberate. You shouldn't put a question mark because he isn't asking you anything - he has your attention already, or, in any event, isn't about to wait until you are paying attention to continue.

Posted by: ugarte at January 5, 2005 05:26 PM