Clean up (on) aisle 13

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
A joke from the internet:
Why are scary movies always in creepy places like jails and hospitals? I want a scary movie in Walmart.
"Clean up on aisle 13"
"But sir... There is no aisle 13.." *dramatic music*


What is the difference between
Clean up on aisle 13
Clean up aisle 13
Is the second one correct?
Thanks.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Clean up aisle 3' is an imperative sentence: it tells someone to clean that aisle. 'Clean up on aisle 3' is not a sentence, but a fragment used as an announcement, short for something like the statement 'A clean-up is required on aisle 3.'
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    'Clean up aisle 3' is an imperative sentence: it tells someone to clean that aisle. 'Clean up on aisle 3' is not a sentence, but a fragment used as an announcement, short for something like the statement 'A clean-up is required on aisle 3.'
    That means the "clean up" in the original is a noun and should also be "a clean-up"?
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don't agree that an imperative is involved although I understand the reasoning.

    I agree with eb in one aspect
    ... 'Clean up on aisle 3' is not a sentence, but a fragment used as an announcement, short for something like the statement 'A clean-up is required on aisle 3.'

    However I think the same is true for "Clean up aisle 13"

    My opinion is that 'clean-up' can be considered a noun in both cases.

    "Clean up aisle 13" means "Clean-up [required]! Aisle 13!"


     
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    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think "clean-up" is a noun, that "on" is prepositional and that the whole thing is a joke intended to mimic the name of a horror film: "Carnage on Main Street", for example (I don't think there was a film of precisely that name, but I believe the names of a few films have had a "X on Y" structure).
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "Clean up on aisle <insert number>" is an internet forum meme. It usually means that there is a post that requires the attention of a moderator.

    "13" is chosen as that is the number that is considered 'unlucky' / to be associated with evil.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "Clean up on aisle <insert number>" is an internet forum meme. It usually means that there is a post that requires the attention of a moderator.

    "13" is chosen as that is the number that is considered 'unlucky' / to be associated with evil.
    Interesting. :thumbsup:

    (However in this case is is also literal - it refers to Walmart.)
     
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    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Thank you, everyone.

    "Clean-up" is a count noun, so, am I right that Clean up on aisle 13 is short for "A clean up on aisle 13"?

    "Clean up aisle 13" means "Clean-up [required]! Aisle 13!"
    I'm not sure I understand it... What part of speech is the "required"?
    I'd expect "Aisle 13 required a clean-up."
    Do they differ in meaning?
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The use of "on" here is rather idiomatic in that it's the common and terse usage one hears on public address systems in American stores such as Walmart.

    It means "Somebody go to Aisle 13 and clean up whatever needs attention," e.g. something was knocked off a shelf and broke.

    Or, it can mean "A cleanup is required on Aisle 13"

    Note that in AE, we tend to use "cleanup" as the noun, without a hyphen.

    If you say "Cleanup required," that's a shortened form of "A cleanup is required" and is passive voice.

    Finally, "Internet jokes" probably aren't a good choice of material for learning English. :)
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    What SDGraham said.

    "Clean up aisle 13" means "Go and tidy up everything that is out of place or dirty on aisle 13. Straighten all the shelves and sweep the floor."

    "Clean up on aisle 13" means "Someone dropped or spilled something. Go to aisle 13 and fix whatever is wrong."
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    To be clear, there is some particular thing that needs to be cleaned up on aisle 13, one small part of the aisle. Perhaps someone has dropped a jar of olives. Many of the suggestions above say the entire aisle needs be cleaned which is not the case.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thank you, everyone.

    "Clean-up" is a count noun, so, am I right that Clean up on aisle 13 is short for "A clean up on aisle 13"?

    I'm not sure I understand it... What part of speech is the "required"?
    I'd expect "Aisle 13 required a clean-up."
    Do they differ in meaning?
    "Clean up aisle 13" means "Clean-up [required]! Aisle 13!"
    Sorry, I meant "[a] cleanup [is required]"

    Bear in mind that people working in supermarkets have to use the same phrases repeatedly. They tend to shorten the phrases as much as they can while still being intelligible. In fact in some stores they simply use a code number, e.g. "Code seven, Aisle 13"

    This is not a part of normal language.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Thank you, everyone.

    "Clean-up" is a count noun, so, am I right that Clean up on aisle 13 is short for "A clean up on aisle 13"?
    I do not think that you will find a direct translation for the phrase/sentence. You should consider it as idiomatic - i.e. an idiom that is understood only as a whole rather than by analyzing its parts.

    I suggest you examine what happens after the announcement has been made and then think of why the person who cleaned up/did the clean-up understood and acted as he did.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    An afterthought:

    It is not unusual to place two or more nouns together in English when making a request. It can sound quite abrupt but is understood easily.

    Example

    "Security alert. Post room!"

    We understand this to mean "There is a security alert concerning the Post room."

    We don't need a complete grammatical sentence to decipher it.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    An afterthought:

    It is not unusual to place two or more nouns together in English when making a request. It can sound quite abrupt but is understood easily.

    Example

    "Security alert. Post room!"

    We understand this to mean "There is a security alert concerning the Post room."

    We don't need a complete grammatical sentence to decipher it.
    "Clean up aisle 13" means "Clean-up [required]! Aisle 13!"
    Do you mean that in this case in "Clean up aisle 13" a punctuation mark is needed?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Do you mean that in this case in "Clean up aisle 13" a punctuation mark is needed?
    Clean up aisle 13! (I command someone to clean all of aisle 13.)
    Clean-up! Aisle 13! or Clean-up: aisle 13 or ... (There is a situation which requires a clean-up! It is on aisle 13!)
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Clean up aisle 13! (I command someone to clean all of aisle 13.)
    Clean-up! Aisle 13! or Clean-up: aisle 13 or ... (There is a situation which requires a clean-up! It is on aisle 13!)
    Thank you.
    (I meant that Biffo said he considered it a noun in both cases (with and without "on").
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I agree with Myridon.

    Cleanup! Aisle 13! (Two nouns)

    or

    Cleanup! On aisle 13! (a noun and a location)

    Another differenc between this and a command is that with a command it is implicit that you are speaking to an individual or a group of people. "[John] Clean up aisle 13!"

    When we deal with an announcement over the store's PA system, the person speaking does not necessarily know whose responsibility it currently is to perform cleanups. They are not commanding, they are providing information.

    P.S.
    I'm not sure if any of us has yet specified what a cleanup is! When a customer spills something on the floor or breaks a container accidentally, the action of removing the debris is called 'a cleanup'". This is different from the routine scheduled scrubbing of floors for general hygiene that occurs out of shop hours. In some stores they might conceivably shout "Spillage! Aisle 13!" but I have never heard that.
     
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