Confusing & funny signs from our travels

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Signs. We see them constantly on our travels.

Sometimes their meaning doesn’t register with us because they’re written in a foreign language. At other times their meaning doesn’t register with us because what’s written makes little or no sense in English.

The consequences can be funny, laden with irony or downright confusing.

Here are a few that we spotted and snapped during our travels in Asia.

Of course, the translation skills of the people who created these signs is infinitely better than anything that we could have achieved in attempting to draw up a sign into an Asian language from English. We can’t kid ourselves we’d do anything like as good a job. That though, is besides the point.

Signs from our travels

Hotels in German speaking countries occasionally mistranslate the sign warning people not to use lifts in the event of a fire breaking out. “Do not use in case of fire,” say some of the signs you’ll see displayed by elevator doors in Austria, Germany and parts of Switzerland. Not something that inspires confidence. If taken literally it would result in English speaking guests forever trudging up and down the stairs.

Health and Safety draws a lot of criticism and now prompts a lot of rolling of eyes in the United Kingdom. “It’s gone crazy these days,” is a common statement whenever matters relating to Health and Safety are discussed.

How about a world in which safety wear was optional? It appears to be in this scene, photographed on a street in the beautiful city of Mysore, India.

Always wear a helmet.
Always wear a helmet? Or just  sometimes?

The following sign made us think. It threatens a 100 rupee fine. But for what? For passing and ignoring the command to urinate here? Of course, it means something entirely different to what it actually says.

Don't Pass Urinate Here
Don’t Pass Urinate Here – Okay, I’ll stop here then.

If Oscar Wilde had been a sign-maker in the modern world perhaps he’d have come up with a witty phrase such as “regular naps prevent old age…especially if you take them while driving.”

Whoever painted this one, on Brigade Road in Bangalore, decided to insert a rogue apostrophe, possibly to rile punctuation sticklers. ‘Expecially’ punctuation sticklers?

Don't take naps
Punctuation pedant? This sign will keep you awake. 

For a time, Brigade Road had a number of distracting signs urging road users to pay attention to the road.

Wear helmet or meet hell. Yes, we are speaking to you. Yes, you, the motorcyclist in the blue polo shirt.
Wear helmet or meet hell. Yes, we are speaking to you. Yes, you, the motorcyclist in the blue polo shirt.

There’s no point in posting a warning sign if it’s not in the first language of the people who live in an area. In Karnataka’s state capital, Bangalore, Kannada is the first language of the majority of residents. Were people really expected to follow the command. Maybe the sign-writer should have kept off the grass?

Keep off the grass
Keep off the grass.

This sign took some thinking about. Eventually the wheel symbols helped us decipher it. It points road users to a puncture repair shop that undertakes vulcanising work.

You mean vulcanising?
Wallkenosing? Oh, you mean vulcanising?

The more we thought about this sign, the more we were mystified. How does one ‘produce’ frozen semen? What kind of training is needed at an institute that produces it?

What kind of training?
Training? I do that regularly said the interviewee.

The following sign is displayed in Mysore. Was the sign-writers mind free when they created it or had they been too busy cutting rope?

Freedom starts in the mind
Freedom starts in the mind

You’ve probably seen signs that are far funnier and way more confusing that the ones we’ve published on this page? If you have, and you don’t mind sharing them, why don’t you share them via our Facebook page?

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One Comment

  1. Colin Gunsenheimer says:

    I’m enjoying following your blog. Really interesting piece. Made me laugh out loud!

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