Today’s signs inadvertently boast avant-garde literary credentials. (Wait, come back!) This quality is, of course, imputed by yours truly; the enjoyment of many signs requires a certain whimsical contrivance.
The strangeness of these summer sale signs, or more properly posters, is easily overlooked. On first glance they appear entirely unremarkable:
Yes, the bold colours and unfussy font effectively convey key information: a summer sale is taking place, and some items are available at 40% of their former price – or “up to 60% off”, as it is conventionally expressed. Cynical shoppers ignore the percentage, since it might refer only to a handful of undesirable items; moreover, the bigger the sale, the greater the rip-off the rest of the time. (There’s that cynicism.)
But from an aesthetico-linguistic point of view, the posters are a delight. See how the two key words were presented: “Sum Sale mer”. How wonderful! Had someone in the store’s marketing department been studying Dada or practising cut-up writing? Was the store selling anti-nuance cream?
Probably not. But the possibility brightened an already bright and sunny summer’s day – an especially pleasant thing to think about after three days of almost incessant Irish rain.