Rule Of Signs

My flight to The Playa is booked for February. Three weeks on the sand, just me and the insects. I can already feel the itch.

Even though I am not physically there, my constant communication with Wendy, allows me to stay in the loop with The Playa, at least in a business sense. This is helpful but is not the same as being there. I know Wendy does not tell me everything that happens there, and truthfully that’s just fine with me. I don’t need to know whom is mad at whom over some slight, or that the lobster-catch that day was small. I only need to know if there is a reservation or a problem. I receive no complaints from the guests, so I assume if they have one, Wendy handles it.

Wendy and I view the business of The Playa differently and coming from different cultures, I would expect no less. This is her livelihood not mine, and in the Dominican Republic things are done differently than Canada. At first the differences caused me concern but I am learning to just ‘chill’, and accept that there is little I can do to change things from here. This I believe will help me in the future, because I won’t be able to change things even if I am there. I hope that my advice might be heeded, but I doubt it. Wendy is firmly in charge. That too, works for me.

The past week, Ginger and The Earl have been in residence at The Playa and this allotted me better access. Ginger sends me messages frequently and a few pictures so I can see the changes. She also gives me a better feel for the overall health of The Playa business. Having been there from the beginning, through Patrick and the Pirate A-Hole, she can see the evolution of the business and give me her evaluation. The real plus to this is that it is done in English.

I use Google Translate with all my foreign messages. German, Finnish, French, Russian and Spanish, they all go through the translator. Is the message I am sending correct? How the hell would I know!! I don’t speak German, Finnish, French, Russian or Spanish!!! I can only hope that the message is correct and must trust Google.

Google Translate does not do a literal translation word for word, but instead arranges the words in phrases. Thus, translating the meaning of my phrase, rather than a word verbatim message. This makes sense and in the few messages I have checked through reverse translation, it has been close enough not to worry me. Sometimes it does happen that there is no translation for an English word, and Google Translate guesses at what I mean. That’s right!!! The multi-billion-dollar machine at Google guesses!!! And it doesn’t always guess right!!!

English is an odd language as it combines many foreign phrases into its vernacular. We say phrases from different languages, like “c’est la vie” and “quid pro quo”, and call them our own. English is a mush of just about every language imaginable, so how is the translator going to figure out what I mean? It can’t!! That’s why mistakes get made and communication in different languages breaks down in the middle of conversations. Wendy suddenly stops speaking to me because I have said something she does not understand, and she thinks I’m an idiot! I don’t know what I said!! We were talking about how many chickens she had! I might have told her that all the chickens needed collars!! I trusted the translator!!!

The Playa’s primary language is Spanish, but we deal with many foreign visitors. Google Translate is a valuable tool. I know that I could not survive without it. Tools like this, have brought language to the masses, and with patience anyone can communicate in any language that is not there own. I am living proof. But I also know that I have said things incorrectly by trusting it too much. I am also not alone, when it comes to this kind of error.

As mentioned previously, Ginger sent me a photo of a sign that Wendy had made up for the parking lot. Using the local artist, who has a computer and can do graphics. What he gave her breaks every rule of sign making that exists… but it is very Dominican. I have found that Dominican sign-makers break the ‘rule of signs’ all the time.

The ‘rule of signs’ is applies the ‘KISS method’ in a specific form. Keep It Simple Stupid! Don’t overload a sign with messages, no more than two. If you have more messages, do two signs! The most important thing is that when you use more than one language, keep the the languages separate. And for the love of God… check that the translation makes sense!!! Don’t trust the translator!! Find a person that speaks the language and check!! A sign is meant to present information and should always be kept simple. “Enter”, “Exit”, “Parking”. Signs for the most part are read while passing and can’t be complicated. Too busy and it is distracting. it’s how people get into accidents!

The sign that Ginger sent me a picture of is way over the top. There is so much going on that it is impossible to read at a glance and get any understanding of what the message is. It’s pretty but not worth whatever the sign maker charged her! This is the same guy that made me buy another website because he wrote the wrong web address on the highway sign! This sign is so busy it could make you nauseous looking at it too long!! Wendy has got to stop using him or at least get his product checked before she pays him!!

If you look at the sign (see pic, it’s real), I think you would agree with me that the most glaring mistake is the translation of “Restaurante a la Carta” in Spanish to “Restaurant to the letter” in English!! Do you know how hard you have to work with Google Translate for it to give you that translation??? It is not possible!!! I tried and the only way I got the word ‘letter’ was when I punched in “Carta” by itself!! To add insult to injury he put the mistake dead center of the sign!!! Why not just write, “restaurante a la carta… restaurant full of idiots”!!! No one but the English-speaking customers would know!!!

When you make a sign, don’t repeat yourself. I’m convinced that this sign maker must charge by the word. He used the word ‘restaurant’ twice then still put ‘food’ at the bottom. Restaurant implies food!!! Once is enough!! Maybe this is what Wendy wanted, but I put the blame for this monstrosity squarely on the shoulders of the sign maker. The guy robbed her!!!

Even if Wendy wanted the sign to relay these messages, The sign maker should know better. The word “Forbidden” should never appear on a sign with any advertising. That is a stand-alone sign, that goes with “trespassing”, and “…will be shot”. Not a sign that wants to convince a person to come on in and spend your money. There is nothing friendly about “Forbidden”!!!

“Loud Music”??? Who advertises loud music? You advertise dancing or live music, but loud music advertises itself. What is the point of this even being put on a sign?? This place isn’t a nightclub and it will never be one! It’s in the middle of nowhere!!! I think Wendy is simply saying that they play music in the restaurant and on the beach. If it’s not loud enough she turns it up and if it is too loud for the customer’s, she turns it down. Surely, she is not wanting to say that there is only one volume and it is loud. She just wants people to know there is music, even though it is not necessary.

To me the sign is a disaster and should be removed. The message that it is supposed to send is lost. It needs to be fixed. I don’t think that English is required but if it is, it needs to be correct. There are better ways for Wendy to get her message across than a sign of this magnitude in the parking lot. The sign itself is pretty and it is tropical, but from my personal standpoint the sign reminds me too much of a faux pirate galleon.


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