Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Rudi from Westchester, IL sent this in a while back, I'm finally getting around to posting again. Rudi writes:
I’ve been an avid reader of your blog for about 6 months, and I’ve been on the lookout for lower-case l signs everywhere. I finally found one! Recently, my brother and I were stopped at a light, when I looked over and found this sign saying “ClEAN CLAY ACCEPTED.” We both took cell phone pics- sorry it’s so small- this is the best my phone can do.

This sign is a fascinating example of the lowercase l phenomenon- the l in “ClEAN” is lowercase while the “L” in “CLAY” is capital. This is especially confusing because clean is the first word (the “fitting words into space” theory doesn’t hold- when you’re writing the first word, you always assume more space, or at least I do). The second and more bizarre reason that this sign is an interesting case is that both words begin with the “C-L” consonant blend. Why would you write “C-l” for the first word, and “C-L” for the second? It doesn’t seem to add up.

Finally, this sign is fascinating because of its confusing message- “oh good… they accept clean clay! I don’t want anyone that accepts dirty clay.” And what are they accepting clay for? Is this a roadside pottery class?

I'm glad the photo is so small. This way, the problem doesn't seem so big.


HorribleLicensePlates said...

This is a true lower case L phenomenon. Great work!

Anonymous said...

So many questions, so few answers. All one can imagine is that the signwriter would have balked at writing "ClAY" just because of its strangeness.