It’s all in a Word

Funny sign from Google Images

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the person at a company who is in charge of designing and ordering signs?  I have.  In fact, I’ve often wondered how many grammar and punctuation books I would need to read before being confident with my first sign order.  I’ve also contemplated whether clever humor in my signs would be lost on the average person.

My mysterious desire to design placards makes me a connoisseur of them.  Once on our way back from Julian (a mountain town outside of San Diego) I noticed a sign on a store that said, “Closed, darn it.”  I instantly vowed to return one day when the store is open to thank the owner for entertaining me and to purchase something to reward his/her creativity.

What original, strange, or humorous signs have you seen?


2 comments on “It’s all in a Word

  1. Dale Harshman says:

    Asian languages are very different from English and it often leads to funny translations and other humorous misuses of the language. When I was an English teacher in Japan over a decade ago, my western friends and I discovered the website It is dedicated to funny uses of English in Asia. Check it out for a good laugh.

    The Japanese in particular like using English and think that it is “stylish.” It very often adorns advertising and clothes where it tends to make no sense at all like this:

    Look closely for the mistake in this one from China:

    Not sure if I want to eat what they’re selling here in South Korea:

    This one from Thailand is especially crazy and conjures up some funny images in my mind:

    To be fair, westerners have been misusing Asian languages (Chinese and Japanese) a lot in recent years. I have actually seen people in this country with “misspelled” Chinese character tattoos (or ones that simply don’t make sense). When I was taking Mandarin Chinese in grad school several years ago, I discovered the equivalent to that chronicles misuse of Chinese/Japanese in the West: Check out the picture of the white kid who thinks his t-shirt says “samurai” but it actually says “hemorrhoid.”

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