Tag Archives: signs

Signs of Singapore

When you come to a new country which is multilingual and English speaking, where the number of languages most people speak is at least two, if not more, you tend to think, at first, that you understand signs and what they mean when they are in English.

Until you realize that you don’t, quite.

After six months in Singapore, it’s still hard for me to know when Singaporeans are serious and when they are tongue-in-cheek, when it’s a genuine mistake in translation and when it’s simply a different usage of English (from what I’ve been used to) and when there is some history behind a term I’m totally unaware of because of which I just didn’t get it.

I’ve passed by this sign for a restaurant at a beautiful mall in Bugis. I thought I’d take a picture of it today. There is a picture of a whole skinned chicken next to it.

At the Bugis mall
At the Bugis mall

There are signs for sales everywhere. This kind of humour is something I’m more familiar with:

At Bugis
At Bugis

The construction taking place all over the island is accompanied by a ubiquitous term that I wouldn’t have used quite the same way but I’m getting more and more used to it– “business as usual.”

“Business as usual” signs are everywhere

Sometimes there are signs where I think there is an issue with translation when it isn’t an issue at all.

Dare I try Item #7? Spotted in Chinatown and lost in translation.
Dare I try Item #7? Spotted in Chinatown and lost in translation.

The caption is from an older post but I found out later that this is a dish invented by a husband and wife duo and not what it seems like at all.

Other occasions show signs for more practical reasons but they still seem unfamiliar (to me). These cutouts of cows representing various professions of people here on the occasion of fifty years of Singaporean independence are in many places. But also accompanying them is a sign:

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I’m sure that as I spend more time here, either this list will become longer or shorter depending on whether I spot more and more signs or whether I get so integrated that I stop seeing them.

For those of you who are not familiar with this part of the world, I’ll leave you to decipher the following sign:

On the MRT train
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Signs of Toronto

When a city is walkable, there’s always people. And when there are people, they’re always saying something. It’s the din and the noise and the hustle and the bustle that make you remember you’re part of something bigger, something more than yourself.

Being elbowed painfully in a crowd rushing to office or having the end of a high heel ram into your big toe can jolt you out of that reverie and cut you down to size too.

A city can be impersonal. A city can be lonely.

Dundas Square, Toronto. A space full of people, kids of all ages rushing through the fountains, concerts and street musicians in the evenings but rather empty in the morning.

But sometimes, a voice reaches out from the crowd, a sign stands out that’s distinctive in some way. The distinction tells you there’s a person behind the words, a thinking mind somewhere, someone trying to talk, to imagine, to speak in a way that goes just a little bit beyond the utilitarian purpose of what the sign is meant for.

That’s the urban poet for me. Continue reading Signs of Toronto

Text and nature at Niagara Falls

We got into the car last week and drove off and kept driving until we reached the Niagara Falls. Took about ten hours but never mind. We were rewarded for enduring the heat and the scorching sun:


Continue reading Text and nature at Niagara Falls