The Art of X-ray Reading Road Signs.

The Art of X-ray Reading Road Signs is a strangely satisfying book that teaches you to appreciate the wording of common road signs whose presence we take for granted. A sampling:

  • STOP – “This word starts out with an intimidating hissing sound before the tension explodes with the thundering ‘P’ spoken too close to the microphone. It has been selected as the Greatest Road Sign of All Time by the National Road Sign Appreciation Committee.”
  • DEAD END – “This sign gets big points for its fearless mention of death. The letter ‘D’ is repeated not one, not two, but three times to give the wording a delightful triple recitation of pattern leading to the startling finish.”
  • LANE ENDS / MERGE LEFT – “The first two words alone invoke images of fear and disaster. What will happen when the lane ends? Will your car fly off a cliff? Will it slam into a wall? But hang on, the last two words bring hope and relief, that all you need to do in order to avert disaster is merge one lane to the left to continue your journey unscathed.”
  • RIGHT TURN ON RED AFTER STOP – “A delightful symphony of consonants and vowels enhanced by the 4 perfectly timed ‘R’s. The merriment continues until it is punctuated by the hissing followed by the obnoxious concluding consonant of the word ‘STOP’.”
  • WRONG WAY – “One of the very few road signs with words free of hard-sounding consonants, yet should you see one while driving, you are strongly urged not to take too long to appreciate its artistic wording should you desire to conclude your commute in one piece.”

Thanks to Roy Peter Clark for the inspiration for this post.

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