# Meaning of "A/B and C/D" -- clear or ambiguous?

I saw this sentence in Cypher, in which game you try to break various cyphers.

Swap columns 1/2 and 3/4 of each block.

I didn't know whether it meant "Swap the 1st column for the 2nd column and the 3rd column for the 4th column" or "Swap the 1st column for the 3rd column and the 2nd column for the 4th column". I checked some websites explaining how to use slashes in English sentences, but nothing similar was found.

Actually, it intended to mean "Swap the 1st column for the 2nd column and the 3rd column for the 4th column", but I'd like to ask native English speakers just in case: Does this sentence CLEARLY mean "Swap the 1st column for the 2nd column and the 3rd column for the 4th column"? Or, is it ambiguous even for native English speakers?

Thank you!

• It's not written very clearly. If it is from a puzzle game, that may be intentional so that you might have to try one way and if that doesn't work, try the other way. Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 15:49
• @ColleenV Ah, it makes sense. Actually, I wondered whether the "Shift" in the problem statement meant right shift or left shift. So it's likely that the creator of the game intentionally wrote the problem statement ambiguously. Thank you for your comment! Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 16:06
• typically a + means "increase" so, a shift in English would almost always go from left to right. Shifting rows positively most likely means moving down from the top because of the way the blocks are numbered (go from smaller coordinates to larger) but it could also mean moving from the bottom toward the top (a higher position on the page and the rows aren't explicitly numbered). I think it's vague on purpose. Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 16:14
• @ColleenV I didn't know that "a shift in English would almost always go from left to right." As you explained, "Shift" meant a right shift in the game. Thank you! Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 16:43
• It's because we read English left to right, so to the right in text is "increasing" or further away from the beginning. It's very unusual to have the beginning on the right side of a diagram. Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 16:55