Humorous Signs
[ Issue 46 ]

Humorous Signs are a particular interest of Emily Bronto

Bikwil will always sing the praises of Humorous Signs

Humorous Signs

Harlish Goop reckons he can spot signs of fun from miles away.  So, no doubt, can any Bikwil reader.

'For sale by owner, Encyclopedia Britannica, excellent condition. No longer needed. Husband knows everything.'

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A Word in Your Pink Shell-like ó Harlish Goop


Now you didnít think, did you, that Iíd ignore this funny line from a brochure for an Italian hotel on the back page of the previous issue?

This hotel is renowned for its peace and solitude. In fact, crowds from all over the world flock here to enjoy its solitude.

Signs, too, are a wonderful source of humour. Alas, theyíre only occasionally deliberate, and much more likely to be unintentional, as the above example and Bikwilís series Spellbound show. Today we have a look at both types.

Of the deliberate ones, many are graffiti and to a lot of people quite objectionable, so I thought you might like to smile at some of the rare non-scatological ones:

[In a shoe store window:]
We Give You a Fit and Serve You Right

[Outside a Sydney chemist shop in a building being renovated:]
Bismuth as Usual

[Outside a San Antonio Food Store:]
Shoplifters Will Be Beaten, Stabbed and Stomped. Survivors Will Be Prosecuted.

[Under a slogan on a wall calling for the release from gaol of Norman Gallagher (a notorious Melbourne union leader in the 70s and 80s) and reading "Free Norm":]
In Every Packet

But itís the unconscious errors in signs that give us the most fun, and none more so than those composed by people in foreign lands who are insufficiently versed in English ó which is where Pink Shell-like at last comes in.

Did you know, by the way, what they call such usage? Youíve heard of Franglais, of course; well, now meet Engrish ó presumably so called after the Japanese difficulty with the English ďlĒ.

But before I get on to Engrish, I should quickly mention advertising humour. Youíre all familiar with examples of such phenomena so you need little reminding of them here. Except, maybe, for some classified ads that I picked from various places around the Internet:

For sale by owner, Encyclopedia Britannica, excellent condition. No longer needed. Husband knows everything.

Our bikinis are exciting. They are simply the tops!

Wanted. Man to take care of cow that does not smoke or drink.

Illiterate? Write today for help.

One more digression before the foreign inadvertences Iím keeping you from ó unintentional funny signs from English-speaking countries:

Eat Here and Get Gas

Donít kill your wife. Let our washing machine do the dirty work.

Would the person who took the step ladder yesterday bring it back, or further steps will be taken.


The Manager Has Personally Passed All the Water Served Here
[Hotel, Acapulco]

Ladies Are Requested Not to Have Children in the Bar
[Cocktail lounge, Norway]

The Lift is Being Fixed for the Next Day. During That Time we Regret that You Will Be Unbearable.
[Bucharest hotel lobby]

Because of the Impropriety of Entertaining Guests of the Opposite Sex in the Bedroom, It Is Suggested that the Lobby Be Used for This Purpose
[Hotel, Zurich]

In Case of Fire, Do Your Utmost to Alarm the Hotel Porter
[Hotel, Vienna]

We Take Your Bags and Send Them in All Directions
[Airline ticket office, Copenhagen]

Drop Your Trousers Here for the Best Results
[Dry cleanerís, Bangkok]

Please Do Not Spit Too Loud

Please Take Care of the Sleeping Grass
[Somewhere in Asia]

Guests Are Requested Not to Smoke or Do Other Disgusting Behaviours in Bed
[Tokyo hotelís rules and regulations]

When Passenger of Foot Heave in Sight, Tootle the Horn. Trumpet Him Melodiously at First, but if He Still Obstacles Your Passage Then Tootle Him with Vigor.
[Driverís training brochure for foreigners, Tokyo]

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