Archive for Signs

Toxic clams

Photograph of a sign at Sequim Bay, Washington taken by Stephen Hart:

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No word for “Community Room”?

At the Valencia Police Station in San Francisco, CA, there is a sign reading “Community Room” in English and Spanish. There is also Chinese on the sign; however, apparently a word or two is not considered adequate to communicate this concept in Chinese.

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Salty pig’s hand

Tony Lin, “End of the Line for Subway Ad Against Sexual Harassment:  One year later, Guangzhou feminist group still hasn’t succeeded in putting up anti-harassment billboards” (Sixth Tone, 4/28/17) is about a group of Chinese women who have — unsuccessfully so far — tried to place a series of public service notices in the Guangzhou subway, alerting passengers to the need to oppose groping. It contains pictures of the would-be ads, including this one:

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Jesus is good, beef noodles are good, and so is money

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Trilingual signs in Sicily

The Jewish Ghosts of Palermo“, a post on The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife, shows this photograph near the beginning:


Caption: Possibly the most important Jewish street in Palermo, the Via dei Cartari was
where all the Jewish scribes drew up any contract needed by the citizens of Palermo.

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Two-child policy

Under the one-child policy, which was in effect in China from 1979 till just recently, the following exhortation posted on the wall of a village house in China would have been unthinkable:

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No Japanese, South Koreans, or dogs

Here we go again.  Image trending on WeChat, a sign on a Beijing bus:

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Hate

There are multilingual signs all over Swarthmore (where I live) that say “Hate Has No Home Here”.  The signs are printed in six languages:  English, Urdu, Hebrew, Korean, Arabic, and Spanish.  I wondered about the choice of languages, but — with a little googling — I found that these are apparently the languages most commonly spoken at Petersen Elementary School in the North Park neighborhood of Chicago, where the campaign to post these signs originated.  It’s interesting that the linguistic mix of an elementary school in Chicago determined the multilingualism of signs that are being posted all over the country.

Incidentally, there is also a #LoveThyNeighbor (No Exceptions) campaign going on, and here I wondered about the archaism of the “Thy”.  It seems to me that the King Jamesian language of these signs conveys clear Christian overtones, which may account for the fact that there are far fewer of these signs around than the HHNHH signs.

“Hate” is also a hot topic in China these days.

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Topolectal traffic sign

This has apparently been around for awhile, but I’m seeing it now for the first time:

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PaPaPa

My, my! What does the signage on this van in Chengdu, Sichuan Province (China) say?

From: “Chinese firm ordered to remove sexually suggestive Valentine’s Day advertisements” (SCMP, 2/15/17).

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New Year’s massacre

Boris Kootzenko spotted this truly bizarre banner at a service area on the highway leading west from Shanghai in Anhui Province:

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The origins of graphic communication, pt. 2

Annalee Newitz has a fascinating article on abstract Paleolithic notations in Ars Technica (

38,000-year-old carving includes enigmatic ‘punctuation’ pattern:  New finding suggests that paleolithic Europeans shared a common set of symbols.”

reporting on this paper:

R. Bourrillon, R. White, E. Tartar, L. Chiotti, R. Mensan, A. Clark, J.-C. Castel, C. Cretin, T. Higham, A. Morala, S. Ranlett, M. Sisk, T. Devièse, D.J. Comeskey, “A new Aurignacian engraving from Abri Blanchard, France: Implications for understanding Aurignacian graphic expression in Western and Central Europe”, Quaternary International (1/24/17).

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2016.09.063

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Particle amnesia

[This is a guest post by Nathan Hopson]

I know you’ve written a lot about character amnesia in the greater Sinosphere. But I think I witnessed the related, but significantly different, phenomenon of (grammatical) particle amnesia (or perhaps, “drift”) during a recent trip to Hawaii.

As you know, Hawaii has a large nikkei* population. This is especially true in and around Honolulu, where I was for the Japanese Studies Association conference last week. In addition to an extraordinary number of Japanese tourists, Oahu is home to nisei,** sansei,*** and many people of mixed heritage. Japanese signs abound, and Japanese is spoken in many hotels, restaurants, and stores.

[*an American of Japanese descent.]
[**second generation; ***third generation]

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