Thursday, May 31, 2012

Disign* (for Design*)

Hand gestures often designate different things to different people, especially different people in different countries. For example, the affirmative "OK" sign and the supportive "thumbs up" signal used here in the United States may, on the other hand, be seen as the most offensive of expressions abroad, a downright digital diss. We could always try and design a universal set of symbols to obviate such international incidents, but unspoken words, like spoken ones, are generally unruly and resistant to orchestrated change. In the meantime, it would behoove travelers and others who interact with foreigners on a regular basis to apprise themselves of these local connotations. However, just to be on the safe side, I might endeavor to keep my hands in my pockets, a smile on my face (happily, this one seems to mean the same thing all around the globe), and a small translating dictionary at my fingertips. Typos are often not what they seem either, so try and stay vigilant regarding any "variant," foreign, and antiquated spellings you may find in your search. Not accounting for those possibilities, we found 21 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 695 in WorldCat.

(Photograph by Rondal Partridge, 1917, of hitchhikers from Oakland, California: "A professional job of 'thumbing' ... these two boys travel together from one construction job to another all over the West ... the careful costume of the thumber with clean shirt, collegiate jacket, and polished shoes is as typical as the city limit sign ... these boys said that their ambition was to settle down to a steady job, preferably civil service." From Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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