Signs of the Islands

I’m one of those people who always takes notice of the typos on menus and secretly longs to offer my proofreading services to business owners everywhere. Up until now, I haven’t gone so far as to actually take that step, but it’s tempting. (I mean really – there is only one way to spell hors d’oeuvres and if you don’t know it, do us all a favor and just go with appetizers, will you?)

Here in the Caribbean, I could make a career out of proofreading. (That is, if anyone seemed to care half as much as I do about how ridiculous printed spelling and grammatical errors make their businesses look.) The things you spot posted on a rock are enough to make any grammar geek’s head explode. Reading signage in the islands has provided endless opportunities for me to be amused, dismayed, and yes, sometimes just plain speechless.

*click for image credit

For the most part, the sign errors speak for themselves. Some signage is clearly written as it’s spoken. Some of it is made in haste, giving more weight to its posted presence than to its actual message. And, definitely not unique to the islands – surprise! – apostrophe usage appears to be a real head scratcher for the majority.

I realize not everyone has the educational background or even basic interest in avoiding the errors I can’t help but spot. But what I really wonder about are the places that make the signs. Most of these are not of your spray-paint-plywood-backyard-sign variety, but rather ones that a professional must produce. You’d think simple spellchecking and proofreading would be a prerequisite service for any sign-printing company to provide. Do island sign printers not feel they have a professional obligation to point out errors to their customers? Or, perhaps it’s the customers who “don’t worry about a t’ing”?

As with everything on a rock, sometimes you just have to laugh to maintain your sanity. Here are some of my favorite island signs I’ve spotted over the years…

Some signs leave you with more questions than they answer:

WWLOR - Sign5

It’s hard to read, but this sign (behind a chain link fence, no less) says, “OPEN Please Coming…….” (Don’t even get me started on the excess ellipses.)

Some signage just seems to be there to state the obvious:

WWLOR - Sign4

No kidding…

Some signage is not only incorrect, but also terrifying:

WWLOR - Sign3

One wonders exactly what happened that made someone think that this sign was necessary.

Some signage is informative and hilarious at the same time:

WWLOR - Sign2

Side note: This sign was hanging in a women’s restroom.

Some signage begs the question, who thought this made sense?

Before every race, the race date is changed and a winning horse is posted. I ASSUME it’s the horse that won the most recent race because the alternative is just ridiculous…

WWLOR - sign1

How do the bookies feel about this?

And then there are some signs that leave you confused for long after you see them:

I am still flummoxed by this one. It’s one of those signs that you probably wouldn’t concentrate on because a quick glance gives you the general idea. But one day I found myself with some time on my hands and so I studied the sign. I understand what they mean by almost all of the icon images, but can’t quite figure out the one on the top row, furthest to the right…

WWLOR - Sign5

What on earth is that meant to convey? There’s a drinking and driving activity? Cars come with wine? It’s a short drive to the bar? Don’t spill your drink when driving?

I suppose I could go to their website and try and figure it out, but where’s the fun in that?

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I’m sure everyone has their fair share of funny island sign pictures in their camera roll. Head on over to our Women Who Live on Rocks Facebook page and share them – more laughs to be had over there, no doubt!

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Claudia Reshetiloff

About Claudia Reshetiloff

Claudia lives in the BVI on Tortola though technically, she doesn’t live on the rock. She really lives on a sailboat attached to a piece of wood that’s attached to the rock. Close enough. In a prior life, she worked in real estate and asset management and did the whole rat race, soccer/karate mom, weekend warrior, high heels, BMW thing (yawn). But secretly, she and her husband were planning their getaway. Finally in 2012, they sailed south on the heels of Hurricane Sandy (oh, how aptly named) and headed for, well, the sand. They checked out most of the Caribbean for a year with their 2 kids (“boy” and “girl”), and when eating rice & beans was looking like a 5 star meal, they decided to get work. The BVI offered a place to stay, friends, beach bars, full moon parties, and a paycheck. Claudia’s enjoying having her proverbial head and literal toes buried in the sands of island life, even if not a day passes when she sees/hears something that makes her crack up (like the guy directing traffic at a construction site on the side of the road - with a machete…).

She’s also a holistic health coach. You can check that gig out at www.HeathThatFits.com (spoiler: she recommends lots of veggies).

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17 thoughts on “Signs of the Islands

  1. I believe the last sign with the car/wine could mean wine tour…at least that is what I got from it! Great post! Thanks!

    • haha! That’s a great one! You’d think they would employ native speakers to translate for them, rather than use (gasp!) Google Translate!! But it keeps us entertained 🙂

  2. well written and with no errors of any kind!

    I am glad you have come to laugh at the signs or they could drive you CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. St.John USVI seems to have many humorous signs on island – not always in need of editing.
    My Favorite is down a dirt road:
    TOURIST information
    You are LOST!

    • Hilarious, Capt Doug! I love STJ for so many reasons and now I have a new one! I will keep and eye out for that sign next time I am there, but feel free to post a photo on the WWLOR FB page if you see it before I do.

  4. Claudia, I’m new to this site and this is the first blog I read. Love it!! Still in Washington, DC, trying to plan my move there … Thanks for the laughs!

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