Even in this age of Internet pop-ups and text-message marketing,
many small businesses still, advertise with low-tech, hand-lettered
signs. And these often come with fractured grammar and creative spelling
that provide insights into new immigrant communities taking root in U.S.
cities. Elyse B. Rudolph, director of the Literacy Assistance Center,
which helps newcomers learn English, says that many immigrants, though
smart and ambitious, are not Literate in English or their native
Language. Overlapping of nationalities often compounds the language
problem: With Mexicans working in pizzerias and Afghans running hot-dog
stands, even ethnic words get misspelled. One New York pizzeria offers
"spaguetti" and the sign on a lunch cart lists an Eastern
European potato pie as a "kanish" instead of a knish. Even
when stores change hands and signs are repainted, some messages linger.
A "Convinient Store" in Brooklyn still bears a sign from the
days when pagers were all the rage: "Beerpers."