Calling all word nerds and grammar police. Dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster is asking the public to help make a City of Toronto sign “sound less weird” in their latest Writing Puzzle posted on Twitter. Seems like a simple assignment at first, but the more you think about it, the trickier it is to fix.
The sign, which is posted in Toronto’s off-leash dog parks, reads, “Dogs that dig holes must have owners fill them in immediately.” Makes perfect sense, but there’s definitely something off about it.
Merriam-Webster’s “preferred solution” is to rearrange the sentence as follows: “Owners must immediately fill holes their dogs dig.”
I love the implication that it’s the dog’s responsibility to tell their owner to fill in the hole.
— Ian Russell (@IRussellCT) January 12, 2022
But, the publisher notes that this isn’t the only way to fix the sentence, leaving it up to the public to chime in with their thoughts.
“Owners, be responsible, fill the holes. ya dig,” one tweet says.
“Undig dug dog holes,” says another popular one.
Another suggestion reads, “Owners should be sure to explain to their dogs that hole-digging is frowned upon in polite society.”
“Don’t let your dog dig, @$$hole,” has to be our favourite one of all.
We hope the City of Toronto consults Merriam-Webster before attempting any more signs. Clearly, Parks and Rec can’t be trusted to maneuver the English language on their own.