I saw a sign on a farm gate that read:
COWS CLOSE GATE
I didn't know that cows could read.
I saw this sign at a dry cleaner's shop in Chicago many years ago:
"As ye rip, so shall we sew."
Our English language must be very hard to learn, despite the fact that it's spoken in one form or another by about a third of the world's people. The rules seem flexible at best. If 2 mouses are mice, then why aren't 2 blouses blice? Or or 2 houses hice?
If it's one ox and 2 oxen, why shouldn't it be one fox and 2 foxen? "Henry, grab the shotgun, there's foxen in the henhice!"
If it's ring, rang, rung, why not bring, brang, brung? Or fling, flang, flung?
If I described something I saw, would I be making an optical allusion?
My first wife liked to shop so much I referred to her as "The Grand Aquisitor."
I actually witnessed this linguistic transaction: A customer in a bar ordered "A hamburger loaded, with mayo." When the food came he told the owner it wasn't what he wanted. "You told me loaded with mayo and that's what I gave you. Not enough mayo?," she asked.
"I wanted it with everything, you know 'loaded' AND mayo," he explained. I cracked up. I knew it was an honest mistake. She didn't hear the comma.
There are a lot of unusual signs out there. There's one on the east side of I65 in Indiana that says:
USED COWS FOR SALE ... hmmmm.
There was a billboard near Louisville, KY (they pronounce it "Louavl" or "Looval") that read:
TATTOOS WHILE YOU WAIT
Like what, you're going to leave your arm and pick it up Thursday?
Why do "slim chance" and "fat chance" mean the same thing?
More on local pronunciation:
Baltimore, MD is sometimes BALL-mer
Beaufort, NC is pronounced "boe fort", but Beaufort, SC is pronounced "byou fort". Thanks to Grumpy_TWB
Boise, ID is BOY-see
Cadiz is ka-DEEZ in Spain, but sounds like Katie's in Kentucky
Cairo is kye-row (or the Greek letters chi-rho) in Egypt, but kayro in Illinois
Chicagoans say shuh-CAW-go
Des Moines, IA - the esses are silent
DesPlaines, IL - the esses are pronounced
Hobart, IN is pronounced Hobert
Houston is HYOU-stun to most of us, but the street in New York City is HOW-stun, and locals in TX say EWE-ston. Thanks to Johnny B. Jr.
Hoopston, IL, the oo sounds as in look
Hurricane, WV is pronounced Her-ik-kin. Thanks to Jasmine T
Illinois - it's Ill-ih-NOY. The Unofficial State motto is "Please don't pronounce the S."
Iowa, Tx is pronounced eye-O-way Thanks to Johnny B. Jr.
Lac Courte Oreilles, WI is pronounced COO-ter-ray
Lafayette is LA-fee-ET in Indiana, but luh-FAY-et in Tennessee
Folks in Leopold, IN say "Lear Pool" Thanks to APBurner
Natchitoches, LA is pronounced NACK-itush. Thanks to Johnny B. Jr.
New Orleans, LA is pronounced (by native New Orleanians) as if it's only one word, as in Norlens with the emphasis on the first syllable. (and sometimes Nawlens). Never, New Or-leans as if it were three words. Thanks to Johnny B. Jr.
Salty is called saline (say-line) but the town in Texas built on a salt dome in called Suh-leen.
SanFrancisco is never "Frisco"
Shabbona, IL is SHAB'nuh
Many Tennesseeans say TENN-uh-see. Almost everywhere else it's Tenn-uh-SEE
It's Santa Fe (pronounced Santa Fay), New Mexico, but pronounced Santa Fee in Tennessee.
Versailles in France is pronounced Ver-SIGH, the towns in Illinois and Kentucky say Ver-SAILS Thanks to APBurner
It's a chocolate sundae, pronounced Sunday in most of America, but it sounds like sunduh in St.Louis.
English is a very flexible language. It's easy to create concise descriptions. You know that moment when you need to sneeze and just can't? I'd call it EJECTILE DISFUNCTION.
I'll add more as I think of them, but you can help by sending in unusual signs or funny examples of English. Send them to Lois@ImUnusual.com