"What does it say?"
Translation:Wat staat erop?
It means "What is standing on it". In Dutch you use the verb "staan" (to stand) with a preposition to indicate that a text is located somewhere.
- Het verhaal staat in het boek (the story is in the book)
- Het artikel staat op de voorpagina (the article is on the front page)
- De woorden staan onder elkaar (the words are underneath each other)
That's why you're asking what's standing on it, which could be a road sign or a note etcetera.
This is in reply to DSDragon's point, but it wouldn't let me respond to it directly. Of course, "je ne parle pas français" is a perfectly natural way of expressing the fact that you don't speak French, but the point I was making is that between "je ne peut pas parler français" and "je ne sais pas parler français", the latter should should be chosen.
"What stands on it?" would be a word for word translation of "Wat staat erop?" but I doubt native English speakers prefer to say that over "What does it say?" "What stands on it?" or "What is standing on it?" also has a different meaning in English and refers more often to objects or persons, not to written words. If you scroll up, @lenkvist gives a good explanation of why in Dutch the verb "to stand" used with a preposition indicates that text is located on or in something. "Wat staat erop" is just the most common Dutch way of saying "What does it say?" (or What's written on it?).