Signs. What do they tell us?


Our world is full of signs. They tell us where we are, where we want to go, what to do and what not to do, among other things. Many of them are rooted in laws. Signs vary depending on the culture and the locale. Bigger cities might have signs discouraging jaywalking or telling drivers to give pedestrians the right of way. Rural areas may warn drivers of cattle crossing the road or weather conditions such as ice.

When not expressed as symbols and images, signs are written concisely, many times omitting articles and prepositions in both languages.

Here are some common signs in Spanish with their English translations:

No fumar/Se ruega no fumar: No smoking

Pare/Alto: Stop

Ceda el Paso: Yield

Precaución: Caution

No Estacionar: No Parking

Peligro: Danger

Extintor: Fire Extinguisher

No Entrar: Do Not Enter

No Virar Izquierda: No Left Turn

No Molestar: Do Not Disturb

  • Curiously enough, in Chile, some signs will quote the law that enforces what they are telling you to do/not to do. The one below tells supermarket shoppers not to remove shopping carts from the premises and cites the criminal code.

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