Take a moment to study this street sign from the Netherlands. Doesthis sign inform you in any way? If so, what is it telling you? If not, whynot? Are there any contextual clues that might help?
The sign is posted at a ferry landing. You perhaps could tell that it is awarning sign (red triangle with !). The wording reads:Watch out (pas op). Slick! (glad!) with (bij) rain (regen) and (en) frost(vorst).Is there any way you or another tourist could have guessed that?According to the voices heard on the landing, the passengers wereJapanese, Chinese, Italian, and American. And yes, it was slick withfrozen but melting rain water and frost. And yes, people slipped!
Signage is a means to communicate informationto others. Often public signage informs people ofrules, warnings, boundaries, directions, orinstructions. The information might range inimportance depending on one’s situation. Andalthough a sign might make perfect sense to thesign designer, interpretation can be problematic—even when pictures are included. Can youdecipher what each of these is trying tocommunicate....
These are clearly signed on roadways. While perhaps we can figure them outafter a few moments of study or discussion, road signs aren’t for study anddiscussion. Street signs and warnings such as these need to be designed sothat they can be seen, interpreted, and obeyed in an instant by whomever is onthe road, literate or not, of any age, and of any language background.
Now take a look at this sign from Macau. Nothing is in English. Wehave Chinese and Portuguese here, but Macau is a place that is veryused to tourist and other visitors from foreign countries. Are you able tounderstand the information here?
Words are often used to clarify, but much public signageuses images and symbols to try to communicate meaning.
What about this one from Hong Kong? I don’t think I would have been ableto guess what each individual prohibition is without the English translation(the “suction device” looks like a garbage can to me. I would have thought itmeant “no dumping garbage here”) but I would be able to get the overallgist. Would this be enough information to prevent me from unwittingly doingsomething that is against the law?