7
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In the US, text painted on roads reads bottom to top:

AHEAD
STOP

In the UK, it reads like normal text:

 NO
ENTRY

Obligatory XKCD:

enter image description here

The task here is to come up with the longest text (measured in number of words) that can be read as an instruction to drivers in both US and UK use. This doesn't need to be a road safety/direction message per se, but relevant to driving or driving journeys.

So "STOP AHEAD" could be read as "AHEAD(,) STOP" scoring 2, while "ENTRY NO" isn't valid as the only sensible expansion is "ENTRY? NO" and not an instruction.

After having a loophole pointed out to me : the number of characters in a line should not exceed 8 unless they form a single (non-hyphenated) word. The exact number is based on examples seem in the wild (by me)

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  • $\begingroup$ As this is my first question submission here, please give feedback if you don't like it, think it shoudl be improved/clarified etc. $\endgroup$ – Chris H Dec 23 '15 at 10:46
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    $\begingroup$ @ChrisH In my experience, challenges of the form "come up with the longest sentence so that X" tend to devolve into people stretching the meaning of a sentence and making an arbitrarily extendable example. Here, one could probably do this with a list like "a man, a plan, a canal, ..." with ends that work as an instruction either way. It might be tempting to try to rule away such things, but it's an arms race you really can't fight. I think such questions unfortunately just don't work here. $\endgroup$ – xnor Dec 23 '15 at 10:55
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    $\begingroup$ Here's an extendable example: "Watch the road, the bridge, the median, the forest, the sky, the ..., the signs, the monitor." $\endgroup$ – xnor Dec 23 '15 at 11:02
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    $\begingroup$ @H.Modh that looks like an answer to me. I have a 3 as well (which is actually real and inspired the Q), but I won't post it yet. $\endgroup$ – Chris H Dec 23 '15 at 12:11
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    $\begingroup$ I would like to see an example where the text gives different instructions to UK vs US drivers. $\endgroup$ – Engineer Toast Dec 23 '15 at 18:21
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As I mentioned in the comments, this was inspired by a real painted sign (in the UK) which was slowly revealed to me as I approached it in the dark:

LEFT

TURN

ONLY

And means exactly the same in the US convention.

Here it is on street view.

(Self-answer to use spoiler mask)

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2
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Ans:

1. Please Drive Slowly => Slowly Drive Please
2. Please Turn on Green => Green ON Turn Please

3-word and 4-word answers.

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    $\begingroup$ your second implies that the light will turn green when you turn though $\endgroup$ – dfperry Dec 23 '15 at 15:19
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As @xnor says, there's always a way of breaking "the longest". Here is one such way (breaking method in bold:

Please

Turn

Left

Then

Indicate

Right

Then

Turn

Right

Then

Indicate

Left

becomes:

Left

Indicate

Then

Right

Turn

Then

Right

Indicate

Then

Left

Turn

Please

This format can be extended/repeated ad nauseum.

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    $\begingroup$ I didn't stipulate one word per line, but maybe I should have done. The letter sizing in real examples is such that an instruction of 9 characters including a space will break. Single long words tend to be abbreviated or compressed at least around here, so a rule of "max 9 chars/line" wouldn't work. I've seen examples in Welsh with 2 words on a line (I assume the same can exist in English in the UK but have no evidence) so "1 word /line" is also out. In other words I acknowledge a weakness in my challenge. $\endgroup$ – Chris H Dec 23 '15 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ I feel like this is some serious loophole-exploitation (but not in the way you think) - It seems unreasonable to accept entire sentences per line (@ChrisH has added a comment as I was posting this, to this effect) $\endgroup$ – question_asker Dec 23 '15 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ @ChrisH - I took inspiration from your xkcd reference which had "I read" on one line. Please feel free to edit the question, it's probably not too late if you're only invalidating my answer. And I don't mind because I think this would be a great question if all loopholes could be closed. That's a big if, but hey, we can try :) $\endgroup$ – AndyT Dec 23 '15 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ A specific rule might be tricky. I'll have a go. $\endgroup$ – Chris H Dec 23 '15 at 15:47
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    $\begingroup$ @ChrisH - Don't bother, I think I broke my "fix" already, see edit. $\endgroup$ – AndyT Dec 23 '15 at 15:49
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Noting that the question doesn't specify that the instruction must necessarily be the same when read in each direction, I submit for consideration:

DUCK
CROSSING
AHEAD AT
LOW
BRIDGE
CAUTION

Read UK-style, this becomes:

Duck crossing ahead at low bridge: caution

US-style, it becomes:

Caution: bridge low ahead at crossing; duck!

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From the campus where I work:

HUMP SPEED SLOW

which I could parse as:

HUMP SPEED: SLOW!

or

SLOW! SPEED HUMP.

Granted, the first interpretation isn't really driving related, so it probably isn't actually a contender. But somewhat amusing nonetheless!

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  • $\begingroup$ The first could be defining an appropriate speed for crossing the speed humps. It's a good one. $\endgroup$ – Chris H Dec 23 '15 at 17:52

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