Monday, July 02, 2007

De signis II

I park my bike in front of this sign. Something about it makes me confused.

Does this mean that when the Chapel is not open I can walk on the grass and enter the other buildings?

2 comments:

stc said...

Some of the graduands at the feast were most disappointed that the advertised "Earl Grey tea and lime sorbet" course did not in fact include the expected cup of Earl Grey tea......

Steffen said...

Maybe the message is too unclear to be decoded unambiguously. But, anyway, here goes:

We know:
a) That visitors to the College are welcome during opening hours.

b) That when the Chapel is open, we may only enter the Chapel and no other building.

This means:

That unless the Chapel is open during all opening hours, we are allowed to enter the other buildings at these times.

The only real problem of interpretation in my view is whether we are allowed to walk on the grass when the chapel is closed or we are not allowed to do so at all.

Ultimately, I think we are forced to apply contextual knowledge of the site here (which I do not possess since I live in Copenhagen and have never been to Cambridge).

But here is a suggestion as to how we could extract as much information from the sign as possible:

This is what we can assume:

The notion of "grounds" would normally include the grass which is referred to here.

Now the question is whether we (as visitors) are welcome to enter the buildings only or the grounds also. I don't see how this could be solved on the basis of the sign only.

And whether this is insoluble or not, might not be relevant.

What is relevant is whether the two-part prohibition (1: do not walk on the grass, 2: do not enter any building other than the Chapel) should be read together or separately.

My intuition (not a very logical instrument) tells me that they should be read separately (though it does, admittedly, seem a little odd to me not to allow people to walk on the grass).

If this is correct the solution is:

1) You are not allowed to walk on the grass, period!

2) You are allowed to enter the other buildings when the Chapel is not open.