Not counting trademarks and those found on computer keyboards, what symbols can reasonably be considered universal? That is, symbols you’d expect an educated person[sup]1[/sup] from anywhere in the world to recognize.
The only ones I can think of are certain currency symbols (euro, pound, yen (although I believe those are on some computer keyboards)) and some road signs. But I’m not sure how many of the second group can really be considered universal. The Stop sign for sure; Yield and Do Not Enter, very likely; not sure if there’s any others. The radioactivity symbol , probably. Any others?
[sup]1[/sup] We can ignore isolated people like the Sentinelese islanders and those of remote regions of the Amazon, New Guinea, etc.
I would vote the general crossed sticks (X) to deny entry. I have seen that used on remote trails in Turkey and Africa- so there is something universal about “Do not enter” about it. Similarly, I wonder if a generic directional arrow would have some meaning to nearly all people. Projectile hunting tools have been around for a long time after all.
Definitely not. I bet there’s Americans (teens and twenty-somethings) that don’t recognize that. Also people in lots of other countries.
General point: Something to think about when suggesting answers. Will the symbol be recognized by people everywhere? Malawi, Mongolia, Tuvalu, Bolivia?
Just thought of a possibility: the Smiley Face. The only problem is that it doesn’t really have any specific meaning, so it’s questionable as being a symbol, at least as I’m thinking for this thread. So let’s just ignore it.
Another set of symbols to ignore are flags. Should have put this in the OP. Everyone recognizes the US and other countries’ flags, so consider them counted.
Except it doesn’t, always. In some European countries they use the red circle without the diagonal line to indicate prohibited. They use a black slash to indicate end of prohibitions. It’s similar but not universal.
Apologies for my confusion, and no desire to be overly pedantic. But:
-Are you saying that some countries use the black backslash (end of prohibition) independent of a red slash (prohibition)? I’m trying to think of an action that is generally understood to be prohibited, such that persons would only need to be informed of when/were it was NOT.
-Are you suggesting the red slash IS universal, but the black backslash is not?
An arrow pointing left or right might be pretty universal, but an arrow pointing up for straight on not so much.
I used to work for a company that shipped machinery in wooden cases all over the world. The standard sign for “This Way Up” is two arrows pointing up with a bar underneath. We discovered that in parts ob Africa it did not work - in fact it had the opposite effect. To a tribesman like a Zulu, a spear should never be left pointing up as that is a sign of aggression, so their natural inclination was to have them pointing down.
Is that surprising? In Britain it’s easy to find 17th or 18th century gravestones with skulls and crossbones on them that indicate mortality. Pirates later used the symbol to indicate a threat. I think, but could be wrong, that the poison meaning only arose after the first two usages went out of fashion.
I don’t think so.
The female one is usually shown with a skirt instead of pants. But in desert cultures where men wear long robes and women wear pantaloons, it isn’t distinctive. Or even a Scotsman in a kilt.
Also, the female one is often shown with more/longer hair than the male. Is that universal in all cultures?