Be safe than sorry
Posted: 07 November 2011 08:47 PM   [ Ignore ]
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When I first moved to Singapore I saw a couple of signs in different places saying “Be safe than sorry”. I figured that this was probably the result of two separate mistakes but I’ve seen it many more times, including in some government websites etc.

https://www.give.sg/TeamGIVE/louissiaw/be-safe-than-sorry
BE SAFE THAN SORRY! Donate to sponsor activities by “Action for AIDS Singapore.”

Cyber Awarness for Parents
How to teach your child to be safe than sorry

http://www.challenge.gov.sg/magazines/archive/2007_01/staff/staff.html
When it comes to health and security, it certainly pays for one to be safe than sorry.

infocommclub.vs.moe.edu.sg/...pri...be_safe_than_sorry/main.htm
Fire Safety- Be safe than sorry

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I don’t have a question or a complaint but I thought this was an interesting case of the development of a saying.

(I’ve also seen other variations on this theme here that don’t seem to make grammatical sense, in that they involve “than” but no comparative: e.g. it is best to be safe than sorry, it is good to be safe than sorry.)

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Posted: 08 November 2011 03:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’m reminded of our discussion of esse quam videre.

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Posted: 08 November 2011 05:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I guess if you took “better to be safe than sorry” and “be safe rather than sorry” and only kept the words they have in common you’d end up with the expression. Or just lop off the “better to” in the first. It’s an oddity because you understand it while at the same time feel it’s wrong. Perhaps, under the rubric offered by the local dialect, “than” comes to stand for any comparison.

FWIW, linguists in this country find the phenomenon of World English pretty fascinating and seem to be keeping an eye on trends. Who knows? it may be the wave of the future.

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Posted: 08 November 2011 09:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Yes, I mean it does feature in some unremarkable sentences, “better to be safe than sorry” as you note, and “I’d rather be safe than sorry”, “I’d prefer to be safe than sorry”. That last one would probably get an asterisk next to it.

I’m trying to think of any common sayings in American or British English that don’t seem grammatically correct: can’t think of any of them off hand, but perhaps I’m so used to them that I am blind to them.

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