Normative Signs: The Poetry of "Ought"

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

Month: March, 2014

Are Unquantifiable Hazards the Best or the Worst Kind?

unquantifiable_2What’s not to love about the sign in this photo from just outside Bristol, England? The sign is apparently posted adjacent to an area of felled trees and marshy land.

I love the idea of warning of an “unquantifiable” hazard. Of course, many many hazards are unquantifiable, or at least unquantified — after all what’s the probability, precisely, associated with drinking irrigation water or allowing children to pump gas?

It’s also worth noting that most people — or is that just most people here in North America — would have very little idea what the word “unquantifiable” means. It seems rather a subtle point to put on a sign, really.

Thanks to Ursula Wills-Jones for the picture.

Normative Signs Made Funny

spartaFans of normative signs will likely enjoy this:
25 Signs Made Funnier By People (With thanks to NW.)

Pumping Gas Isn’t Child’s Play

IMG_9694I spotted this sign on a gas pump in Pennsylvania.

I can pretty readily imagine the pattern of events that must have led to it being necessary to post such a sign. After all, if a 12 year old is pumping gas, he may not be mature enough to remember not to smoke while doing so.

I like the verb mood being employed. Is that the optative mood? I’m not sure, but the sentence structure is surely one seldom seen in everyday conversation but pretty common in legal documents. Adding to the legalistic tone is the fact that they’ve decided to go with “dispense gasoline” rather than the more colloquial (and clear) “pump gas.”

I also like the slightly madcap printing of “DANGER DANGER DANGER!”


People who appreciate the Normative Signs Blog will likely also appreciate this:

33 First-World Anarchists Who Don’t Care About Your Rulesreclining_lawn