PARALLEL UNIVERSE: ‘AHEDA STOP’: Angeleno Motorists Have to Learn to Read From Bottom Up — And Some Even Know How to Spell

  • By David M. Kinchen 
PARALLEL UNIVERSE: 'AHEDA STOP': Angeleno Motorists Have to Learn to Read From Bottom Up -- And Some Even Know How to Spell

In my more than 16 years living in Los Angeles — from 1976 to 1992 — I never paid much attention to the word order of the warning signs painted on the streets. You know, the signs that read BUS STOP or PED XING. I didn’t realize that L.A.’s street painting department got the word order wrong until I read a recent Steve Harvey column (link:http://www.laobserved.com/intell/2012/03/only_in_la.php) that included the photo accompanying this column.

Harvey, a long-time fellow Los Angeles Times columnist (I worked there from March 1976 to August 1990) who now writes for L.A. Observed, posted the picture to show the misspelling of “AHEAD”, rendered by the painter as “AHEDA.”

 

Like everyone else, I learned to read from the top down, but in L.A., the word order is reversed. Even in Great Britain, where driving is on the wrong side of the road for Yanks, the word order is correct, as I learned from my visit there in 1979 and from watching the London Olympics. In the men’s and women’s cycling road races, I noticed that the warning lettering reads from the top down, so STOP AHEAD or BUS STOP

is rendered:

 

STOP

AHEAD

 

or

 

BUS

STOP

 

 

 

not:

 

AHEAD

STOP

 

or

 

STOP

BUS

 

As it would be rendered on the streets of Los Angeles.

 

It’s a minor quibble — because the mind automatically corrects the wrong word order — but as a purist about the mother tongue, I just had to comment on this  Left Coast peculiarity.

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