Reply to post: "a car that lacks working indicators"

I need a password to BRAKE? What? No! STOP! Aaaargh!


"a car that lacks working indicators"

"No, seriously, what right-minded individual would pay that much for a car that lacks working indicators and cannot be parked outside a supermarket except diagonally across three spaces?"

What an interesting usage. I had not previously encountered it.

The dashboard of any car is full of indicators — gauges, dials and meters that serve as indicators of vehicle speed, engine speed, miles traveled, remaining fuel (be it petrol or gasoline), and so on (time, temperature, engine temperature, oil pressure, the state of battery charge, . . .). When I first read the article, I honestly thought that Mr. Dabbs was asserting either that such instruments are typically broken on BMWs, or somehow are absent altogether.

Only later did I start to surmise that the statement in question might have been euphemistic sarcasm. That by "indicators" he actually meant turn signals — indicators specifically of one's intention to turn or change lanes — and that his assertion that BMWs lack working indicators was actually just a cutesy way of saying — yea, indicating — that Beemer* owners are too lazy or stupid to use their damn turn signals.

A subsequent Google search ("indicators British English") bore out my suspicion, providing numerous sources indicating what a large portion, if not a majority, of Reg readers already knew — that Brits use "indicator" to mean turn signal.** But also indicating that they also use the term broadly, the way everyone else uses it — to denote things that indicate, quite generally.

The British usage seems reasonable and perfectly sensible to me, but it obviously is one that depends heavily on context to indicate when the narrow, specific meaning of "indicator" rather than a broader, more general one is intended. Given that even Brits use the term "indicator" in its broader, more universal sense as well as as a term specifically for turn signals, it would have been helpful if Mr. Dabbs had used some different or additional words to indicate/make clear that in this instance he was not referring to (missing or malfunctioning) gauges, dials, meters, or other indicators on the dashboard. (For instance, at the very least, something like "indicator lights" or "direction indicators".)


* Or, if one prefers, "Bimmer":


** All of these sources save the last show Brits using "indicator" either to mean a turn signal or as everybody else uses the term, to denote pretty-much any kind of indicating device whatsoever:

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