• Steven Heller

Universal Misunderstanding


Sometimes the universal sign system is not so universally understandable. This “ban” sign (above) could mean No Loitering, but it could also mean No Prostitution Here (like the sign below). It could, however, also mean No Leaning Against the Building or No Waiting for a Bus. It could even mean No Standing on One Leg. But whatever it means, its ambiguity proves that sign symbols do not always mean what they seem to mean. The sign below was proposed by German authorities to stop 2006 World Cup tourists from picking up girls off the street. Prostitution is legal in Germany but only in certain areas, and the street signs are planned to stop football fans from pestering women.

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