Reader Alice B. shared with me a decorous linguistic debate conducted on the wall of a toilet stall in Sevilla. The sign that sparked the debate, complete with its series of scribbled-on comments, is shown below. This article (in Spanish) discusses the debate at length, and includes various tweets that it inspired.
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To summarize the debate:
- The original sign, which translates roughly as ‘Please leave the toilet clean’, used the infinitive dejar ‘to leave’. This is equivalent to the frequent use of the English -ing form as a command (e.g. No smoking).
- Someone changed the final -r to a -d to create the informal plural command form dejad.
- Someone else then changed this to the formal plural command dejen.
- Someone else suggested leaving off the final consonant of either command form to create the singular command deja (informal) or deje (formal).
- Along the way, someone pointed out that infinitives are an acceptable alternative to command forms in contexts such as this one.
I love Spanish! Can you think of any aspect of English grammar that would inspire a similar series of emendations and comments?