Dogs must be carried

London Underground sign: Dogs must be carried

It’s an oldie, but a goodie; the sign at the entrance to escalators on the tube, saying “Dogs must be carried”. Seldom do I see anyone carrying a dog, but I do see lots of dogless travellers using escalators. So, either most people are flouting the rule, or the sign is barking. Obviously it’s the latter. But what *should* the sign say,to convey its real meaning (if you are travelling with a dog, carry it on the escalator to prevent injury), ideally in fewer words?

  • Any dogs must be carried” – Maybe a little better – but it’s longer.
  • Carry your dog” – Not quite. What if your dog is at home, or you’re travelling with a dog that’s not yours?
  • Carry any dogs” – Better, but you should really only carry your own dog.
  • Dog? Carry it” – Almost – but any literate dogs reading the sign would be thoroughly confused!
  • Carry dogs” – Two words, active voice.  At least as good as the original.  Works for me.

Other suggestions welcome in the comments.

Update 23/7/2010: A timely article in today’s Metro about Batman – the reading greyhound. Also you can find lots more reading dogs here.

2 thoughts on “Dogs must be carried

  1. Hello Fin,

    I am working at a university in Germany and I am preparing a summer course for high school students. One of the professors is planning a workshop in English Studies about ambiguities in English, how they work, what function they have etc. As the starting example he is using the signs “dogs must be carried” and “helmets must be worn”. I am wanting to illustrate the introductory text of his workshop with a picture of each of the signs. So my question is: Are you the photographer of the picture of the sign “dogs must be carried” on and would you permit me to use the picture for a non-commercial purpose of my university? I would of course mention you & your website as the source of the picture.

    I would really appreciate a (hopefully positive) reply.

    Kind regards

  2. Hi Ben

    Yes, I took the photo on my camera phone and would be delighted for you to put it to good use. Thanks for getting in touch; great to know some people share an interest in this stuff!

    Since you’re looking at ambiguities, you might like to consider the infamous “only”:

    Only at Luton Airport (you’re welcome to use the photo if you like) and
    Only at King’s Cross

    Good luck with the course!


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