The cultural significance of signs - The Sign Shed

The cultural significance of signs

The cultural significance of signs

The study of signs in folklore

The history of signs and signage is a complex and fascinating topic; from blue plaques indicating the homes of important historical and cultural figures, to significant street names and iconic symbols, signs play an important role in our cultural heritage.

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The study of signs is not just folklore or pub quiz knowledge; known as semiotics, studying the history and meaning of signs is a highly-regarded academic discipline. Many signs go beyond the language barrier – most countries use a similar system for road signs, making highway signage one of the most widely understood languages on the globe.

Rude place names

Of course, sometimes road signs and place names can be a great source of comedy; from towns whose names sound rude in other languages to amusing spelling and grammar errors, there are plenty of signs that make us giggle. Misplaced apostrophes are among the most common errors found in public signs, and can cause the public to lose faith in companies and institutions. There are also some signs that are specially designed to raise a smile. One gem of American signage, found on the freeway in Detroit, shows a stick figure crossing his legs, and reads ‘Don’t worry, you’ll make it, exit 32’ – let’s just hope that nobody giggled too much when reading that sign…

Grammatical errors

The humour created by spelling and grammar errors really emphasises the importance of having your signs professionally made and checked to a high standard. After all, it can be difficult to take a business seriously if their signs are not up to standard; while some say that there is no such thing as bad publicity, the majority of professionals would rather not find themselves ridiculed on a blog or elsewhere in the backwaters of the world wide web. Fortunately, throughout history, experts in signage have ensured that the majority of signs are produced to a high standard. So, whether you’re looking for bespoke signage, or simply a warning sign to go in a car park, or a no smoking sign for the office, make sure that you choose a professional outfit to design and make the sign that is right for you.


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