It seems that no matter where you go, you will find a warning sign that will make you laugh. Sometimes the pictures look like something else, the words are lost in translation, letters have worn away, or the sign offers an incredibly obvious helpful hint. These fails tend to be quite hilarious for the viewer, and sometimes made more funny by a sarcastic vandal.
If you have ever traveled internationally, we are sure that you have laughed at the mistranslated signs that you have come across. In China, it is referred to as Chinglish, in Japan, Engrish, and we are sure that there are other names for it across the globe. The creator probably had good intentions, but due to the language barrier, they ended up with words and sayings that do not make sense. Restaurants, restrooms, airports, and national monuments tend to be the victims of this sign-fail.
Sometimes you will encounter a sign that seems so obvious, you would have to be stupid to need it. Unfortunately, many of these signs exist because someone was not clever enough to use common sense. For example, the “Caution Contents Hot” on coffee cups, or the “Do Not Breathe Under the Water” signs seem like common sense, but these warning signs do exist for a reason. Because these signs exist, many joke signs have been created, like the “Safe Baby – Handling Tips” series by David & Kelly Sopp.
Vandalism and Weathering
Unfortunately, signs that are exposed to the elements tend to wear down over time. Lights go out, words wear down, and vandals add more to the sign than was intended. This can be absolutely hilarious, or completely inappropriate. For example, the “M” in “SMITH’S” recently burnt out, leaving the sign to say “SITH’S”. Another example is the sign on this post, found in Hawaii. It once had a purpose, but due to lava flow, it now encourages people to not park in impossible places.
Don’t allow you and your company to become the next “Sign Fail.” Make sure that you place your sign exactly where you intend to. Simplify the pictures, and make sure that they do not look like something inappropriate. If you are catering to an international audience, check your sign’s translation both in google translation (make sure that you re-translate it to English to see if it makes sense), and by running it past someone who speaks that language. Make sure that you keep an eye on your sign and clean it up if any vandals have changed the meaning.