Youtube more-or-less randomly showed me two ads with similar taglines:
We’re built for growing businesses.
Your business matters.
Ambiguity in English arises for a number of reasons. One is that a gerund-particle (like growing) can be used in a noun-type way (We’re built for the purpose of growing businesses), or an adjective-type way (We’re built for businesses which happen to be growing). In this case, the ambiguity is small, and probably deliberate.
Compare Moving pianos can be dangerous (which can have both interpretations), Tuning pianos can be dangerous (which can only have the noun-type meaning) and Falling pianos can be dangerous (which can only have the adjective-type meaning). Note that the ambiguity can be resolved by using a different verb tense: Moving pianos is dangerous (gerund) v Moving pianos are dangerous (participle).
Another reason for ambiguity is that many words ending with –s (like matters) can be a plural noun or a 3rd person present simple verb. In this case, the full stop probably forces the verb interpretation. Even without the full stop, most people would find the verb interpretation, which creates a complete sentence, in preference to the noun interpretation, which creates a noun phrase: compare Your business matters are important to us.
Last weekend we went for a drive in the Blue Mountains. I saw a sign saying Falling rocks, and thought that it probably doesn’t, especially from the height of the cliffs there. Another sign said Slow buses, in which slow might be an adjective or an imperative verb. In this case, most people would find the incomplete adj + noun interpretation. In the imperative verb + noun interpretation, there are further options if you are the bus driver, a super-hero or a pedestrian.
Today we drove in another direction. We visited a business which proclaimed Growing since 1919. Especially apt for an orchard/nursery/garden supplies business. One of the banners in the outdoor furnishing section stated Dark matters, which I couldn’t quite figure either way.
Many years ago, a service worker introduced herself as a name which sounded like Psycho. It would have been unreasonable to ask for clarification, so I just tucked it away at the back of my mind. Maybe now I’d have more confidence to ask.
A few months ago I was watching a video by Chris Broad, who has a Youtube channel about his life in Japan. One, titled 25 ESSENTIAL Japanese Words for EVERYDAY Conversation includes the word saikou literally the most, used to mean It’s the best. Searching for Japanese names, I found Saiko. There’s no definitive website of Japanese names, but this one gives a number of meanings, depending on the kanji; others give ‘most, greatest’ as the or a meaning. In the absence of any further information, I’ll assume that the service worker was Japanese, and this was her name. You’d think that some colleague would have told her that it’s not a good name for a service worker trying to make a good impression. Either that or wear a name tag.
I searched for ‘name sounds like psycho’ and found this unexplained site of Baby names like Psycho, which a) isn’t the same thing and b) mostly aren’t remotely like psycho.
So why did this name stick in my mind out of all the service workers who have ever introduced themselves? Probably because of the unusualness of it. Maybe if I’d moved to Japan and/or been a manga or anime fan, I might have discovered this sooner.
(There’s a cartoon of a worker lettering the door of an office with ‘Psycho the rapist’.)
A Youtube ad offered information on how to make your own soup using essential oils. In the few seconds before I could skip the ad it became apparent that it was really about how to make your own soap. Mix them up if you like, but don’t mix them up, if you know what I mean.
YouTube is asking me the question above with the five possible answers: Absolutely outstanding, Extremely good, Very good, Good, Not good.
What is the difference between the first four choices, really? Either I can access the site, find the video I want and play it, and there is an appropriate selection of related videos down the side of the screen; or I can’t or there isn’t. If I can’t access the site, it might be because of my computer, browser, internet connection or some other circumstance not related to YouTube, and I can’t see the question and answers anyway.
I rarely answer questions like this online or on telephone calls to call centres. They are welcome to assume that they are doing an acceptable job until I tell them otherwise.