While driving through the University Park neighborhood the other day, I saw the new Romney campaign sign on a lawn (see left). Seeing the sign for the first time made me realize that an old pet peeve of mine – lack of punctuation in signs – was still peeving me.
For example, I have always been bothered by the sign that says,”Slow children at play.” The sign should read, “Slow! Children at play” or ” Slow: children at play.” Otherwise, I find the sign conjures images of either mentally impaired children whose street is marked as if they lived in a dystopian ghetto, or the more comical image of kids playing in slow motion out in the street.
What did my mind see when it read the Romney sign? I saw a comma, turning the poster into an anti-Romney imperative sentence: ” Romney, believe in America.” Of course, it is intended to be read as if it contained a colon, “Romney: Believe in America.”
We should demand punctuation in all of our signs. Punctuation is needed in order to clarify the meaning and rhythm of sentences. Since meaning is so easily distorted in a political campaign, political parties should, more than anyone else, embrace punctuation.