Who you calling boring?

A notice was sent out by the real estate department with the provocative subject line Campus notification — Building 7: Marking Boring Locations.

What? Were the people in the real estate department saying that the people who work in Building 7 need to get some new hobbies? Or maybe they were just going to put up markers like you see in historic districts, but the markers are going to say something like On this spot in 1998, absolutely nothing interesting happened.

But no, that's not what the message was about. It was announcing that, in preparation for an expansion of the parking garage, there will be markers placed in the courtyard indicating where drilling will be taking place. The message was merely informational, so people won't wonder What are these people doing wandering around the courtyard with surveying equipment and making X's on the patio with spraypaint?

Comments (13)
  1. laonianren says:

    If you looked up Boring in the Yellow Pages in the UK it used to say "See Civil Engineering".

    But the engineers complained for years and Boring doesn’t appear as a category now.

  2. Falcon says:

    Seymour Skinner: "6 hours 19 minutes right ascension, 14 degrees 22 minutes declination… no sighting"

  3. J says:

    Marking boring locations should be a community effort, and not limited to a small survey team.  

    I’ll contribute by marking where I’m sitting now.

  4. CmraLvr2 says:

    Since Building 7 is nonexistent are the markers going to also be nonexistent?  I suppose I should word this as past tense since the post is a year old?  Is the new parking lot officially building 7 now?  LOL

  5. Nitpicker’s corner: I’ll give you the plural apostrophe in "X’s", but "spray paint" is two words.

  6. neminem says:

    Reminds me of one of my favorite easy-to-misread sentences, from Steven Pinker’s How the Mind Works, which featured the opposite problem: "Kelman and Spelke bored babies with two sticks poking out from behind the top and bottom edges of a wide screen" (318)."

  7. Arafangion says:

    The problem is that "Boring" is a verb that is used as a noun, when it is more commonly used as an adjective.

    That should therefore be "Marking locations for boring", but amusing regardless!

    I propose that the real estate department be sent an ambiguous syntax violation.

  8. Dave H says:

    Comment 1: I suspect I may have been the first person to bring that fact to the attention of the Internet, way back in 1990 (in fact, the Yellow Pages said "See Civil Engineers", of which my brother is one).

  9. AndyB says:

    Now, if Raymond had written a book like this, he would be .. slightly richer.


    I have one, its actually more amusing than you realise. Or… how about http://www.amazon.co.uk/Roundabouts-Great-Britain-Kevin-Beresford/dp/1843308541

    Brilliant stuff, not everything that is ‘boring’ is quite as boring as it first appears :)

  10. Adam V says:


    > "spray paint" is two words

    I actually treat it as one – as a noun, "spraypaint" is more descriptive than "paint", (not to mention "spray paint" is an odd phrase, adjectiving* the verb), and as a verb, "spraypainting" is used more often than "spraying paint".

    * – If I can verb nouns, I suppose I can adjective verbs, but it feels weird to me. Of course, someone’s going to post an example of a very common verb-as-adjective and I’m going to feel dumb.

  11. A_me! says:

    @Adam V

    Does a "running commentary" make sense as a verb-as-adjective?

  12. Отдел недвижимости прислал уведомление с провокационной строкой темы Оповещение по кампусу — Здание 7

  13. > Does a “running commentary” make sense as a verb-as-adjective?

    Technically “running” is a noun, so this is a noun-as-active.

    OK, OK, it’s a gerund, but a gerund is a kind of noun (“in the running”)

    [Technically it is a present participle, which in Germanic languages can function as an adjective. -Raymond]

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