Tag Archives: rhetoric

An amphiboly about amphibians

I have only been to CalTech once, and Pasadena is admittedly not quite Los Angeles… although they were pretty close from the perspective of my still-East-Coast eyes at the time of that visit. I’m sure no one is really waiting with bated breath, but I warn you now of a future rant on the meaning of “place.” I digress.

While wandering the campus, I sat for a while near a small pond filled with frogs. Actually, the frogs were a nice addition to the campus, with maintenance people returning them to the pond from various nearby buildings. Aside from the pleasant scene, what caught my eye was a sign at the edge of the pond:

“Please do not feed or remove animals from pond”

In some sense, a reasonable and commonplace enough request. On closer mental inspection it struck me how odd it was. In particular, it is a lovely case of a turn of classical rhetoric: amphiboly. About… well, amphibians.

There’s little in life I like more than alliteration.