The Plain Meaning of the Text

The Plain Meaning of the Text May 15, 2016

No football coaches

Internet Monk shared this wonderful example of the problems with claims about the “plain meaning” of a text. The sign above is from the UK. And so, while an American will understand it to be prohibiting people who serve as coaches of a particular uniquely American sport from entering, it not only refers to soccer, but to coaches in the sense of buses.

Context matters more in some contexts than others. But it always matters.

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  • The Eh’theist

    If they had recently passed a motel before seeing this, they might interpret it as meaning there were currently no football coaches, but there may be some for the next away match. Depending on the text you decide is”similar” it can frame your understanding as well.

    Having a large influx of Syrian refugees has been interesting in that regard. Most spoke no English on arrival, but are diligently working to become fluent. It is enlightening to see how we sometimes confuse them. “Human Resources” seems like the perfect name to them for the place where one would come for food, medicine or other assistance,while “Human Services” seems like the place to hire a handyman for odd jobs, and “Social Development” seems like a place to meet friends. I’ll leave it to your speculation as to what they thought “Social Services” might provide.

    All in all, it has highlighted Orwell’s insights about society furiously seeking to avoid the plain meaning of certain texts at all costs. Something that often happens in theology as well.

  • John MacDonald

    I may be betraying my general lack of intellectual prowess, but it took me about ten minutes to get the joke. lol

  • arcseconds

    It could be also interpreted as forbidding football on the one hand, and coaches (of any kind) on the other.

  • Sixtus
  • Tim

    If you think that sign is confusing, try “Heavy Plant Crossing” 🙂