Reference Points

November 27, 2005|By TONI STROUD SALAMA


Lonely Planet / $7.99

According to Doug Lansky, there are 406 million people in this world who claim English as their mother tongue and another 350 million or so who speak English as a second language. That's not the same thing as communicating with it, though, as Lansky demonstrates in Signspotting, a compilation of confusing signs from around the world. From Danville, Ill., for instance, comes the instruction for motorists: "To go left make 3 right turns." A roadside billboard for a Wisconsin Dairy Queen promises "Drive-Thru Seating." Before entering a temple in Myanmar, visitors are admonished: "Foot Wearing Prohibited." Photos of the signs, taken by people who came across them in their travels, were sent to Lansky for posterity.

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