Here at Half Shell we’re always on the lookout for other blogging Rhode Islanders, bringing their own voices to the Rhodyverse. Sometimes we stumble onto them while trolling for blog fodder. Other times they find us. A couple of weeks ago Rhody author Marna Krajeski e-mailed a head’s up about her blog, The Hanging Indent – a highly entertaining compendium of literary “misuses, malapropisms and interesting expressions,” often found on store and street signs locally and nationally.
The site is an amusing treasure trove for lovers of words and the English language. Photographs taken by Krajeski or sent to her from family and friends around the country document odd juxtapositions, poorly considered word choices and glaring typos on public signs. We learn, for example, that Hope Court in Wakefield is a dead end. A sign at McDonald’s reads: “WE ARE CURRENTLY OUT OF BOY TOYS. SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.” A chimney sweep in North Kingstown advertises business on a truck, exhibiting a literary flair: “Lord of the Flues.”
Some of Half Shell’s global wanderings have resulted in similar findings. London, with its familiar signposted admonitions to “MIND THE GAP” and warnings about upcoming speed bumps (“HUMPS 50 METRES”), is particularly rich in “Signglish.” Once, as we were traveling on the Tube, among throngs jammed together like ripe sardines in a tin can, one poor passenger was pressed against a door with the words “NO PASSING THROUGH” overhead, only the P was scratched out. Another sign, at a walled London school, read: “THESE WALLS PAINTED WITH ANTI-CLIMB PAINT.” Yet another, at a traffic light in Stoke Newington, warned pedestrians not to cross a busy road before the light had turned with a huge sign over the street that read: “WAIT FOR THE GREEN MAN,” a reference to the glowing stick figure that appears at the intersection for 30 seconds or so, signaling it’s safe to cross.
What is the most oddly worded sign in Rhode Island?