Saturday, October 06, 2012

We advise you, you are advised

I just finished a book in which the protagonist owns a Tata (an Indian car company). At one point the cover of the owner's manual was shown. At the bottom was this line:
This owner's manual is advised to be kept in the vehicle at all the times.
A quick look at Google shows that this is indeed the Tata Motors practice.

But in my variety of English, which is North American (USA) rather than Indian, the manual cannot be advised. It can't do anything. And it certainly can't be advised to have something done to it.

That is, I can see this sort of structure in, say, instructions to a new employee: You are advised to be clean-shaven. No, that's a bit adjectival. How about: You are advised to be finished with your lunch by noon. That breaks to "I advise you to shave" or "I advise you to finish".

Tata Motors is trying to say "We advise you to keep this owner's manual in the vehicle at all times." They could have said "You are advised to keep..." But they chose to be totally impersonal, I'm not sure why, and thus ended up saying "We advise the owner's manual to be kept in the vehicle". "... to keep itself in the vehicle" makes no sense.

I think that I'd - given the instruction to keep Tata and the driver out of the sentence - have gone with "It is advised that this owner's manual be kept in the vehicle at all times."

Or even "It's advisable that this owner's manual be kept..."  Or, really, "This owner's manual should be kept..."

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