Archive for the ‘Signage’ Category

The refuse joke

September 25, 2022

Passed on, back on 7/21, by a friend on Facebook, a dumpster texty (of murky origin) with a (N vs. V) pun that works in spelling (REFUSE) but not in pronunciation —

N /ˈrefˌjus/   vs.  V /rəˈfjuz/

— plus, as commentary, Dylan Thomas expanding on the improbable (not to mention grotesque) V reading of the text (as opposed to the obviously intended N one). Which will then take us to Harry Diboula’s “Je refuse”, a French zouk song of lost love, which ended up in romantic Paris from the Kingdom of Kongo by way of the French Caribbean.


(#1) Like all right-minded people, I reject the idea that I — or, more precisely, my bodily remains — should be stored in black plastic sacks and placed in dumpsters. Ick. Je refuse!

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Some people call me Piggie

July 11, 2022

Appearing in my FB as a response to my 7/4 posting (for Fathers Day) “I am a good Boy for you, Daddy” (about Daddy – Boy relationships), this remarkable billboard (without identification or comment), featuring a pig-cop character — Mister Piggie — getting oral with an inert character Boy :


(#1) Pig Kisses Boy! Pig because he’s a cop? Pig because he’s unable to control his sexual impulses? (or, of course, both); I suppose that’s supposed to be life-saving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but still: ick

The text looks like a book title (or maybe a quotation from a book), attributed to some Bobby Peters we’re expected to recognize. Is the billboard advertising a book by football player and game analyst Bobby Peters? About whom I had trouble getting much information, but then that’s an alien world to me. I spent maybe half an hour fruitlessly trying to chase Bobby Peters down, and then a search on “some call him pig” turned up a Boing Boing posting “Some call him pig!” by Rob Beschizza from 3/3/22. To start with, the football Bobby Peters has nothing to do with it; it’s about a Columbus GA mayor named Bobby Peters. And there’s a 50-year history of “Some call him Pig!”.

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What’s on the menu?

December 6, 2021

By Matt Diffee, in today’s (12/6) New Yorker:


(#1) There is a header on the menu that says Breakfast Served All Day, intended as an assertion that all the breakfast items are served all day — but understood by these diners as a label for a category of menu items, or even for a specific menu item, a label similar to Breakfast Special or (Special) Breakfast of the Day (an item whose identity is further specified on the menu or by a server)

(Yes, there is yet another reading, in which the diners are supposing that they can have their particular breakfast order served to them throughout the day, as one monumentally extended meal.)

So a rather complex kind of ambiguity, which might seem unlikely to be significant in real life, until you look at some actual menus without the knowledge that the assertion Breakfast Served All Day is a commonplace on menus at American family-style restaurants (fancy places don’t serve breakfast all day). But even if you’re firmly in possession of that knowledge, some menu designs invite the label understanding.

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Pictographs for dogs

April 28, 2021

A Mark Stivers cartoon from 4/20/19 (first encountered in the Funny Times for May 2021):

(#1)

Dogs also can’t interpret pictographs, certainly not such abstract ones as the slash of prohibition, the NO symbol (seen here in a non-standard orientation and missing part of its conventional accompaniments). It’s doubtful, in fact, that they can recognize dog pictographs, highly stylized representations of a dog — and incredibly doubtful that they can recognize a pictograph of a dog taking a poop, and understand that a prohibition against dogs pooping applies to them. In fact, it’s beyond doubtful that even if they recognize the sign above as a prohibition against dogs pooping, they understand that the sign is locationally deictic, applying not just to the spot where the sign is planted, but to some contextually (and socioculturally) determined area around the sign — in this case, applying to the whole strip of lawn on this side of the fence (but not to any larger area).

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CORN/BEEF

July 14, 2020

Following up on NO PENGUINS (my 12/4/19 posting here), another adventure in food signage, also initially presented almost entirely without context. This one takes us into the mysteries of punctuation, t/d-deletion in English, and the food practices of modern America.

The impetus:

(#1)

This is available as a symbol conveying NO PENGUINS, meaning that penguins are not allowed in the signed area or will not be admitted to the signed area (under a penalty of some sort). The slash is the slash of exclusion.

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Annals of ambiguity: I feel like making it rough for Schrödinger

June 24, 2020

Playing with ambiguity:

— a One Big Happy cartoon with: I feel like a tuna fish sandwich

— a domestic exchange about: I will make a dessert of my youth

— a Pearls Before Swine cartoon with: Tell me roughly

— a photograph, labeled Schrödinger’s Dumpster, of a dumpster with the signage: EMPTY WHEN FULL

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Signtax and the Sloppy Joe apostrophe

October 29, 2019

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro collabo, with punctuation:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page. And stay tuned for a Bizarro, rather than Hindu-nationalist, interpretation of the initials BJP.)

Two linked things: the syntax of the sign on the hot dog cart; and the potential ambiguity of Sloppy Joe’s on the sign, as a possessive in standard spelling or as a plural in a very popular non-standard spelling.

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At Boulders Beach

July 25, 2018

Signage alert today from Chris Hansen, with this item:

(#1)

The location, from Wikipedia:

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Following instructions

July 7, 2018

The instruction goes COVER ME or COVER YOURSELF. What are you supposed to do? Well, the verb cover, um, covers a lot of possibilities, so there’s plenty of room for play, amply illustrated in cartoons and other forms of visual/verbal play. Especially common are plays on COVER ME intended as having what I’ll call “gunfire cover” but understood as having some other sense, in particular what I’ll call “(general) placement cover“; and plays on COVER YOURSELF intended as having what I’ll call “corporal-modesty cover” (cover your nakedness) but understood as having (general) placement cover.

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Another signage ambiguity

May 1, 2018

Ambiguity is everywhere, but by eliminating useful redundancies in texts, telegraphic registers — headlines, signage, instructional labels, graffiti, and so on — hugely increase the opportunities for unintended multiple meanings. As in this photo that just turned up in Facebook:

(1) N + N compound ‘area for pets (to use)’ OR an imperative, V + NPobj ‘pet the area’

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