Normative Signs: The Poetry of "Ought"

In which the author finds beauty in how people tell other people what to do.

Control Your Dogs


Here’s another from Samantha Brennan. This time it’s a sign posted near a walking trail in Yorkshire, UK. It’s noteworthy for its politely conversational tone, as well as for the fact that the sign conjoins an injunction — “please control your dogs” — with a handy suggestion for how you might go about doing that (by keeping your dog on a leash).

Stair Railings and Bikes

Toronto-20130422-00614Here’s a sign posted on a university building. It’s a sign with a lot going on.

First, there’s the polite “please.” Wait, make that an emphatic “please,” with an exclamation mark.

Next, this is a sign in a category that interests me, namely signs that provide a reason for what they ask you to do or not to do. This sign points out that there’s a good reason not to lock your bike to the stair railings, namely that some people actually rely on such railings as aids to mobility.

Finally, there’s a threat: if you do lock your bike, it well be removed. (And then what? Is the vagueness part of the threat?)

Thanks to Nancy Walton for sending the picture.