Everyone gets a kick out of wacky signs. From Leno to Lynne Truss, lots of folks have entertained us with signage that is confusing, misleading, or just plain wrong. The title of this post shows a common mistake seen on signs: the use of an apostrophe s where just an s is correct (Cds from the 80s & 90s).
I was driving past a wellness centre the other day when I saw a sign that made me snicker. The centre was advertising its services as being “co-ed and for women.” Just a tad redundant, I said to my daughter. But she saw things differently: the centre obviously had some classes for men and women together and other classes for women only. Bingo. I’m sure that is indeed the intended message, but it sure wasn’t clear to me on the initial reading.
A classic example of a sign that can be understood differently depending on the reader is “N0 Smoking Section.” Does this mean the establishment in question has a smoking section or not? Technically it means that there is not a smoking section. If there were a smoking section, the correct sign would read “No-smoking section.” That little hyphen makes a big difference. (Lynne Truss may have given this very example on her radio program about punctuation, if memory serves.)
I’ve always wondered about the companies that print business signs. Do they not employ editors? When a business requests a sign and there are obvious errors, doesn’t the printing company point the errors out and suggest alternatives? Coming soon to this blog: an exclusive exposé with all the answers.