781: Ahead Stop

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Ahead Stop
They actually started the reversed-text practice in 1977 -- not for ease-of-reading reasons, but because too many people were driving backward down the highway blasting the Star Wars opening theme.
Title text: They actually started the reversed-text practice in 1977 -- not for ease-of-reading reasons, but because too many people were driving backward down the highway blasting the Star Wars opening theme.


This comic refers to how, in some countries including the US, words or instructions written on the highway are always backwards from how you would read them. It seems that the "highway" engineers write the words as if you would read them as your car goes over them. Sometimes this approach works, other times it is potentially confusing. The sentence on the comic is: Highway Engineers Think I Read Backward. Adding the period is a perfectly hilarious touch, as there are probably not too many periods on the highways.[citation needed]

The title text is referring to how the words of the opening sequence of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (released in 1977) move from the bottom of the screen to the top so that it can be read by a normal human being. However, the image text says the engineers initially reversed the text because people were driving BACKWARDS down the highway trying to re-enact the opening sequence, so they started reversing the word order to get people to drive the "correct" direction.

The title of the comic ("Ahead Stop") is also a reference to this phenomenon because the common "Stop Ahead" instruction would be written on the highway as "Ahead" and then "Stop".

This could also be a reference to Top-posting in email threads and online discussion forums, as summarized in the following comedic signature line:

A: Because it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
Q: Why is top-posting such a bad thing?
A: Top-posting.
Q: What is the most annoying thing in e-mail?


[Words are painted in white on a black road with green grass on each side and a gray sidewalk along the road to the left with a single flagstone going of from the sidewalk and out of the frame to the left. The words get smaller towards the top due to the perspective.]

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Reminds me of something I saw in San Diego on a pedestrian/bike path: PED TO YIELD. At first I thought it meant that pedestrians are to yield to bicyclists. But then I remembered my highway grammar.

-- 21:49, 1 May 2013 (UTC)

"highway grammar" that's a good one! Saibot84 (talk) 05:25, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
"grammar highway" 19:50, 10 March 2014 (UTC)
Pedestrians should yield to cyclists, surely. 11:44, 27 November 2020 (UTC)
Pedestrians always have the right of way. Cars, trucks, buses and cyclists all have to yield to pedestrians! -- The Cat Lady (talk) 10:24, 20 August 2021 (UTC)
It's because pedestrians are the slowest and squishiest of all traffic, and while (most of us) are also the most nimble, "won't anyone think of the children!" applies here. So yeah, pedestrians always have the right of way. In a perfect world, cyclists would be next, but this isn't a perfect world. Anonymous 07:10, 14 October 2023 (UTC)

The phrase suffers from parallax. Being near the first words you can't read the phrase in the correct order but the words further away make more sense, so you read: "HIGHWAY ENGINEERS THINK BACKWARD I READ".

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 17:23, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

In Idaho you can see signs which say: GUBERIF BE A DONT

So theyre not only downside-up and backside-front, there ungrammaticle. 22:18, 13 May 2016 (UTC)

Please do not reenact the title text. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

To save you the bother, I googled guberif and found it is firebug spelt backwards, which I should have realised for myself, and comes from a 70+ year old marketing campaign. So now you know. 22:55, 22 June 2017 (UTC)

Sometimes the result is poetic. Last weekend I saw "BRIDGE LOW TRUCKS NO" on a highway. Gmcgath (talk) 00:00, 29 June 2017 (UTC)

How can someone say there is not many periods on the highway, has anyone done a study of how many woman are not menstruating while in a vehicle compared to those that are? I would think that at any one time there is a significant amount of periods on any given roadway. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

What Americans call periods were represented by STOP in telegrams StraightDope or in British English: a full stop wikipedia. Elvenivle (talk) 03:06, 27 September 2017 (UTC)

The Star Wars reference in the title text also implies that the one who wrote the text used yoda-speak (I read it in yoda's voice). 17:24, 1 September 2022 (UTC)