Sunday, April 29, 2007


I doubt it

There's a church that I pass on my way to work, which has a sign out front on which they like to put too-cute things. Like the time they had, "Come in for a free faith lift." Ha ha. OK, fine.

The sign currently says this:


A bit, uh, strained, don't you think, as well as being ungrammatical?

This also calls to mind a game we played as children, which went by a polite name and an impolite one. The players had to tell each other amazing stories, and the listeners had to guess at which point the stories veered from reality.

The polite name of the game was, "I doubt it!"


Dr. Momentum said...

I'm pretty sure there is a book that they get these marquee sayings from. I've seen that "faith lift" one before.

Maggie said...

Somebody must publish a book of those sayings. There are several churches in our town that put "cute" sayings on their signs.

Maggie said...

Perhaps James and I should coordinate our comments. :-P

I really have some problems with that one. How many teenagers are sniggering about the "in the pants" part? I'm sniggering. How about the phrase "ants in your pants," I just picture a little kid who's wiggling through a service because he has to use the restroom.

Plus it doesn't rhyme.

It should be:
Doubt is the ants
in the faith of pants

That will make people think. Perhaps they'll wander in just to find out what it could mean.

do pants dream
of sewing machines?

I'm sure I could work a reference to a camel and the eye of a needle in there if I thought long enough...

Barry Leiba said...

Hey, you're individuals, so you get to comment uncoordinatedly... even if you happen to say the same thing within a minute of each other.

As to a confusing sign making people check it out: I once saw a place where a new business was "coming soon", where they had signs with one word on each sign, and one sign in each window... except they were in random order, and the order was changed every day for the last week. On the day before the grand opening, the words were placed in the correct order.

Clever. I don't know whether it suceeded in generating first-day traffic, but it certainly had a bunch of us musing over it as we had cones at the Ben & Jerry's across the street.

The Ridger, FCD said...

Ungrammatical? I don't see it.

It's a pretty accurate little sign - its message: Stop thinking!!!!

Barry Leiba said...

Well, the "ungrammatical" part is the number disagreement, but I guess it's really this:
«Doubt is the "ants in the pants" of faith.»
...and, of course, one seldom puts punctuation on signs like that. So never mind the bit about grammar.

As to the message, well, yes: isn't that the message that religion usually gives? "Whatever else you might question, never question this."

The Ridger, FCD said...

Ah, the problem is in using a copula between singular and plural?

Surely you don't want "doubt are the ants..."? Would you accept "ants are the problem"?

In cases like this, the verb agrees with the subject - which in Standard English is what precedes the verb. Chaucer could write "It am I" but we are stuck with "It is I".

Barry Leiba said...

Let's rephrase it a little to make it easier to show my point:

I'm not happy with "Doubt is ants in your pants."

I think it's fine to say "Doubt is like ants in your pants."

In the case of the sign on the church, I don't think it can really be fixed without a rewrite... though I'd accept it with the quotation marks to set "ants in your pants" off as a "unit" of its own.

Michelle said...

Should the godly really be encouraged to think about what's in their pants?

scouter573 said...

I think you'd like the marquee at The Lusty Lady in Seattle. (Or SF - but I've only seen the Seattle location.)