Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oh the scheming! The mandatory schemes!

One thing I've learned in ten years of living overseas is that the same words have different meanings in different countries. For example, did you know that in Australia swimmers and jumpers are items of clothing? For Americans, they are athletes. Or cute names we give to gym classes for children.

Sometimes the words have negative meaning, like this one: scheme. What comes to mind? Pyramids? Ponzi? Of the nine definitions given by dictionary.com, only one of them has a negative connotation. Yet I'm guessing most people would be more likely to use a word like, "plan" or strategy" than "scheme." For example, I'd rather put my child in a school that advertises an "educational strategy" rather than an "educational scheme." The latter sounds like my kids might be involved in some sort of social experiment or plot to overthrow the government.

But here in Singapore, schemes abound. There is a great deal of scheming. Like this pamphlet I have in hand, which says, "Mandatory Give-Way to Buses Scheme." Inside, it describes, "How the scheme works" and "the LTA will monitor the effectiveness of the scheme . . . before implementing the scheme at more locations." So much scheming! The funny thing is, I already thought I had to give way to buses. Or rather, give-way.

By the way, Singaporeans like the word mandatory too, which Americans generally abhore. We're the freedom people, don't tell us what we HAVE to do! Strongly suggest or encourage it please. One day at Long John Silver, a friend of ours was subjected to "mandatory upsize." This, when translated, meant they had run out of medium cups and were forcing everyone to pay 50c more for large cups. Why it didn't occur to them to simply fill the cups by pushing the medium button is beyond me.

Mandatory schemes: being forced to participate in underhanded plots.


Starlene said...

Oh my!! So funny. :-)

Six Wilsons said...

I would be laughing out loud right now excpet for the fact it's only 7:30am and my body doesn't move or acknowledge life before 8am.
Man, i miss you guys, and SG's little quirks!