Monday, June 12, 2006

If there's no sign . . .

At lunchtime, two of my colleagues were working at computers in the part-time teachers' room. They had their lunches with them, right next to the keyboards. I playfully scolded them, and they replied, "But there's no sign."

In Japan, one is bombarded with a sign or announcement for literally everything you must or mustn't do. For years, I've listened to repeated subway announcements, as we're waiting on the platform, to stand behind the white line (that keeps us from getting too close to the tracks). There's also a sign with little stick figures instructing us to do so. When riding on subways and buses, one is subjected to announcements about not using cell phones because they would bother the other passengers (when, for me, it's actually the announcements on the loudspeaker that bother me much more).

Recently, in downtown Sapporo, there have been signs painted on the sidewalks with the universal sign of a circle with a line through it depicting that cigarettes and trash are forbidden. Of course, before the signs appeared, throwing trash was permissible, I suppose.

For more signs in interesting English, see

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