I just got back from a vacation in northern California, and while I was strolling down Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, I happened across this sign at the Mediterranean Cafe.
I haven’t seen a sign like this in a long time, but I suspect partial nudity is a bigger problem in Berkeley than in most of the places I frequent. Seeing this sign reminded me of another sign outside the playground just around the corner from my house. I often go there with my kids.
These signs have similar syntactical construction. What about their semantics? If we believe both signs follow the condition-consequence model, then the following is clear: Unless you bring two or more dogs to my park, you may not play golf. Or maybe you can play golf if there are dogs on the premises somewhere. On the other hand, if each is merely a list of negatives, then it follows that patrons of the Mediterranean Cafe should expect neither a shirt, nor shoes, nor service of any kind. How they stay in business is anybody’s guess, but presumably they have no objection to partial nudity, since they dispense no clothes.
Do you find semantic sharpshooting entertaining or intensely irritating? Know any weirdly ambiguous signs? I want to hear about them.