Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sign Language

For your viewing pleasure, some signs from recent walks that either made me laugh or cringe.

Onan Generators

I think this is an oxymoron, or irony or something like that... I wonder if they named their company with their tongue in their cheek? Or am I the one who giggles at this? I have for years... ever since my postcolonial lit prof explained what onanism is.

Alliteration Gone Bad

As a corporate communications specialist (the title sounds way more special than the job is), I am horrified... who approved this???

Loonie Wash

Isn't this discrimination? One bath house for the masses, and another for the mentally ill?

Litter for a Feminist

(Ok not really a sign but still...) I had no idea men's bowels differed from women's.

Biltmore Hats I

Dude, fix your sign!

Biltmore Hats II

Uh, ditto! (This place is actually still in business and was even open the very day I shot this.)

I was going to do a whole post about how much this misuse of the word alternate peeves me. But I thought I better check my sources because I had some niggling thought that perhaps it is an acceptable synonym for substitute, which it is. And in this case, it fits. But still, the wrongful substitution of alternate for alternative happens far too often. And I confess, I am a total fuddy duddy when it comes to certain questions of usage, grammar and style. And because I'm me, other questions of usage and grammar, don't bother me at all (some might call it hypocrisy or a double standard, but I don't really care). Lynne Truss hit the nail on the head when she said something about sticklers being unable to unite. The Grammar Puss's survey on grammatical pet peeves a while back was a case in point. Several of the peeves I found, er... well just peevish and unnecessary, like punctuation in emails (and blogs), while others made me enthuse, "Hell yes!" in my head.

Bonus Feature: Conversations with Random Strangers and a Baby

The other day (the day I shot the Biltmore Hat signs) I came upon a woman and several children. A girl, maybe about 5-ish, called out to me, "I like your hat!"

"Thanks, I like your hat too." (It was pink and fleece.)

"Can I look at your baby?" she asked.


"Is it a boy or a girl?"

"It's a boy," I responded.

"Then why is he wearing a girl's outfit?"

(He was wearing the leopard print suit.) (I LOVE leopard print.) "Because his cousin gave it to us and it fits." (I had actually thought it was quite neutral. At least it wasn't pink. I'm still gonna keep dressing him in it...)

There's another conversation I'd like to tell you about but I gotta get outside and enjoy the sunshine.


Aliki2006 said...

I love the sign posts. I am always amazed by the things that I come across on signs--and by the people who thought it was ok to put them there in the first place.

By the way, the leopard print looks completely acceptable for a boy!

jen said...

I love it when you post signs.

And leopard is unisex. metrosexual, really.

Beck said...

Great signs. I had a friend with a pet bird named Onan - he spilled his seed upon the ground. Oh, the Biblical hilarity!
Ah, little kids and their utter lack of utter censors.

sunshine scribe said...

Your signs are my favourite!

And my son wore leopard print too when he was little. Pfft

Denguy said...


How criptic and, yet, funny. (Sunday school was so long ago!)

cinnamon gurl said...

Beck, that totally makes me want to get a bird and call him Onan. Too funny!

Hee hee... I have a metrosexual son. I love it.

Patti said...

THANK YOU - born and bred in Guelph and now a frequent visitor with kids in univeristy, I have cringed at that ONAN sign for years. I thought I was the only one who saw the humour and wondered at the intention of the business owners.

Tumbleweed said...

I too get peeved by the Americanization of "Alternate" for Alternative. I found an instance just this morning on, of all places, the welcome page of an online dictionary!