Signs, Signs Everywhere a Sign

In what is becoming an obsession with differences between British and American English, I have a few more entries into my previous thread on strange grammar on British signs.

“Access plot holders only”

This is the sign on the gate to the garden plots that I walk past on my way to work. I’d say “Access FOR plot holders only” or maybe “Access TO plot holders only” but the way it’s written makes me think I can reach the plot holders if I go through the gate.

In a surprising deviation from the theme of “missing words on signs” was this one:

“Polite notice: this gate in use 24 hours”

I loved this. British politeness leads to extra words on sign in order to be sure that the expression of territoriality was still “polite”.

Of course, I am (after more than 4 years in England as of last weekend!) required to participate in equal opportunity “taking the piss” and offer this little gem from my last trip to America:

Sort of “unnecessarily obvious” innit?

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7 responses to “Signs, Signs Everywhere a Sign

  1. Ah, the old “polite notice” trick. You see, they hoped you’d misread it, and think it said “police notice”, and therefore be very obedient to it – rather than just read it and think “who cares?” and park in front of the gate.

    “Access plot holders only” sounds very odd. Were you tempted to misread it as “Access POT holders only”!!

  2. (I realise the significance of my comment may be lost on people who don’t know what a pot holder is – I didn’t before I came to the US, and now – for the life of me – I can’t remember what we call them in England!)

  3. Iota beat me to it – polite vs. police.
    Pot holders . . . umm . . . oven gloves? I can’t remember either!

  4. I just came on “oven gloves” as the answer to this little mystery after digging around on the Lakeland and John Lewis websites!

  5. I hate “polite notice”, I actually find it rude and am much less likely to obey. Who are you to tell me how polite you are as if I needed to be told how to feel? “Respectful notice” or the old-fashioned “patrons are respectfully requested not to…” would be more like it. Tell me your *intention* if you must, whether you actually were polite is not for you to say. I’ll be the judge of that!

  6. Luckily an overblown sense of humour helps a lot.

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