I was making plans for Father’s Day and decided a trip to the Napa Valley Museum for my history-loving husband might be fun (if combined with a wine tasting or two). I stopped by there to see when they are open and found this stenciled on the door : “Open Wednesday- Monday, 10:00-5:00″.
It’s a simple enough statement. But it wasn’t clear.
At first, I was disappointed. It seemed they had a limited schedule. But after a second, I realized they were open all week – every day but Tuesday.
Who decided to list their open days in this fashion? And why was it hard for me to translate the days when they were presented this way? We are programmed to view a week from Sunday to Saturday, so I was required to make a mental translation in order to make sense of the information. If I hadn’t taken that extra second, I might not have realized that the museum was open on Sunday, when I planned to visit.
So what’s the point? Words are important. Your arrangement of words when you form sentences can change their meaning. Take time to review your written word. Think before you speak. Strive to be clear when you communicate. Be efficient with your words and re-read that e-mail before you push the send button.
How many other ways could we describe the museum’s schedule ?
- “Open weekends and weekdays (except Tuesday). “
- “Open every day but Tuesdays.”
- “Open weekdays except Tuesday and all weekend.”
- Here’s how it appears on the website : “10 a.m. 5 p.m. daily, Closed Tuesdays and major holidays.”
Which one is easiest for you to understand? What about visitors from other countries, which version is easiest to translate?