Seven Linguist-Backed Tips for Making Powerful Protest Signs
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Today is the March for Science, and people all over the country are hitting the streets to protest all anti-science agendas and policies. If you plan on showing your support, there’s still time to make some memorable signs with these simple wordplay tips.
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As linguist and podcast host Daniel Midgley explains at Quartz, making clever protest signs is difficult because you have limited space and your message has to be absorbed quickly (since you’ll be moving around). Whatever you’ll be protesting, Midgley offers up seven approaches that can help your sign really be seen:
Parallelism: Use structural similarity as a tool to make your message more memorable, like “My Body / My Choice.”
Rhyming: Rhyming makes any protest slogan a little more catchy, like “No oil in our soil,” or “Don’t hate, Educate.”
Personal attributes: If you’re protesting someone in particular, as many did recently against President Donald Trump, you could say something like “We Shall Overcomb.”
Incredulity: A humorous, conversational tone can bring both levity and attention to a situation, like “I’m With Them” and arrows pointing to people around you, or “[Citation Needed].” Just keep the humor pointed to something. A sign that says “My Arms Are Tired” is funny, but not exactly supportive.
Mirroring: Take a slogan or words someone has said and bend it to your will, like “America Runs on Science” instead of Dunkin’ Donuts original tag line.
Positivity: Keep things upbeat and straightforward, like “We Support the Sciences!” or “Science Saves Lives.”
Repetition: There’s nothing wrong with making a sign that says something you’ve already heard or seen, like “Science Has No Agenda.” Protests aren’t creativity contests.
Lastly, don’t worry too much about how good your sign looks. A blank piece of poster board with some powerful words on it is more than enough. Now get out there, be safe, and support what you believe is right.
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Staff Writer, Lifehacker.com
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