Monday, April 02, 2007

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs

I’m in Florida this week for spring break, and am pleased to report that I’ve found a sign that now qualifies as my all-time favorite:

The other side of the sign contains the exact same message, and the exact same scene of countless sunbathers enjoying a nice sunny day on the beach. There is no indication as to what is designated about this area, why this particular spot has reached its limit. It is quite literally a useless sign plopped down in the middle of a beach, saying essentially nothing, and yet saying it in an awkward way.

This sign now replaces my previous favorite, which has lasted 20 years and dates back to my time living in Maryland, where on the side of the road near some paint stripes they warn motorists:

Paint Test
Drive Normally

That sign leads to all kinds of easy jokes about what constitutes normal driving in Maryland, and why the people of Maryland need to be reminded every day to drive that way. But, it does meet the minimal qualification that a sign convey intelligble information of some kind, even if it is just say that you should be acting normally. The Limits sign conveys information, but it is known only to the committee that designed and placed it.

For an even easier joke, here is my favorite made-up sign:


Martin Woodward said...

My favourite sign is just before a sharp bend on a road near where I live. It says "Prepare to meet thy god".

j.daniel said...

Hi Dan,

My name is Dan too... I've enjoyed reading your blog. I liked this post and I love signs with profound messages. Here are a couple of links you might enjoy.

Beijing stamps out poor English

Plants Prohibited (that's me in Swaziland)

Dan S said...

Ah, the Irish, lyrical and full of good humor (and humour) to the very end. Sadly, I don't think intentional signage humor is allowed here in the states.

Dan, that Plants Prohibited sign is an instant classic. Was that a bad translation into English?

j.daniel said...

Most people in Swaziland speak English, so there's no real excuse for a bad translation... Perhaps there's some nuance of British English or some knowledge of Swazi flora & fauna that I'm lacking that would make it seem more logical. But, of course, that would ruin the fun!

snarkbutt said...

There are all kinds of examples of great mistranslations. I think Snopes even has a page about it. One of my favorites was a hotel sign in Asia: "Please take advantage of our chambermaid."