No Caption Needed is a book and a blog, each dedicated to discussion of the role that photojournalism and other visual practices play in a vital democratic society. No caption needed, but many are provided. . . .

September 20th, 2009

Sight Gag: English as a Second Language?

Posted by Lucaites in no caption needed


Credit: All Hat No Cattle

“Sight Gags” is our weekly nod to the ironic and carnivalesque in a vibrant democratic public culture.  We typically will not comment beyond offering an identifying label, leaving the images to “speak” for themselves as much as possible.  Of course, we invite you to comment … and to send us images that you think capture the carnival of contemporary democratic public culture.

6 Responses to ' Sight Gag: English as a Second Language? '

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  1. Mike said,

    on September 20th, 2009 at 5:41 am

    Great shot. Would be nice to credit the photographer.

  2. lucaites said,

    on September 20th, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Mike: I fully agree and as you probably know we always do when we can. Here, I simply don’t know who the photographer was. I do credit the site from which I found it. If you know the photographer (you?) let me know. Thanks, JLL

  3. Connie said,

    on September 24th, 2009 at 8:56 am

    “Make Language America’s Awful English ?”

  4. Ben Peters said,

    on September 24th, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    The sight gag genre seems to me to be some kind of liminal species that, like the word “gag,” flicker between amusing and shocking. I keep going back and forth on how to read this photo. Fascinating.

  5. Paul said,

    on September 25th, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Spelling is the smallest part of a language, especially one with so many arcane rules that need changing. However, the photo is ironic none the less.

  6. Melissa Caampued said,

    on November 16th, 2009 at 10:14 am

    This photo creates punctum because of the irony presented in the poster the lady is holding. Ronald Barthes uses the term punctum to indicate the aspect of the photograph that grabs our emotions or attention rather quickly. But also using Barthes’ term studium, it also plays a large role when viewing this photo. Studium helps to speak the truth about a photo in a direct way. Just by glancing at this photo, we get an image of a lady from Texas who, living in the USA, can’t spell correctly in the language she demands for to be the official language of her country.

    I am sure that this detail is unintentional, but as a perfectionist, I cannot turn away from this picture due to the message and its misspelled word. This photo shocks me and makes me wonder how people can be ignorant about what they stand for. This affects me because, now that this photo is being circulated, what will people say or talk about, knowing that this woman demands that English should be the official language of America, but can’t spell in English herself? What would it say about our country?

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