Monday, 19 September 2011

Do not grab paper

The printer in my department at university can be set to print on both sides of the paper. If you choose this option, a message appears on the little screen instructing you:
Do not grab paper until printing is complete.
Grab is a word you don't see written down that often. It has a very specific meaning, involving a hasty movement and perhaps negative connotations. Normally, you're being told not to grab (usually if you're a child), or to grab something quickly with the implication that it's a slightly naughty thing to do. Imagine you're at a buffet, and there are chocolate brownies at the end of the table. You're still getting sandwiches, but you say I'm going to grab a brownie while they're still there. You shouldn't really, because you're effectively queue-jumping, so it's a very slight misdemeanour.

In this case, the verb is very appropriate. It is a bad thing to grab the paper too soon, as you will spoil the printing and possibly damage the printer. But also, grabbing is exactly what you would have to do. They could have said Do not take paper until printing is complete, but by using grab, a very clear image of quickly reaching in and trying to take a bit of moving paper is conjured up, and the repercussions of said action are also brought to mind.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting on this message! You made a good case for why they chose grab instead of the more expected take.

    I'll admit it, after being baited by this odd-sounding message enough times, I had to grab the paper while duplexing, just to see what the printer would have to say. Stop grabbing! Sadly, just a misfeed error.