Economy as an Essential Principle in the Structural Configuration of Road Traffic Signs

Nov 9 2010

Ahidjo U. Embugushiki
Department of English, University of Jos

The enterprise of road traffic is precarious and telegraphic in nature. Thus, road traffic signs are designed to convey orders and information succinctly and unambiguously. As such, the language is characterized by precision, accuracy, clarity, completeness and readability. This study explores into the structural patterns of road traffic signs. The study shows that road traffic signs have an identifiable structure which is elliptical in nature and designed to cater for the telegraphic nature of the enterprise. Road traffic signs are also dotted with ‘lexical signals’ (symbols, figures, and abbreviations) so that what should normally be written in word-formed sentences are written in abbreviations, symbols or figures. It is also important to note that the abbreviations, symbols and figures represent and possess full linguistic expressions. The elliptical structure of road traffic signs which is characterized by figural, symbolic or abbreviated forms may be deliberate to enhance expressivity, clarity, economy and processibility within the on-going time. This study also reveals that road traffic signs constitute texts since texts can come in all shapes and sizes. It is the context and not the size of the linguistic unit which determines textuality

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