I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things about international travel is noticing signage–for instance, in Great Britain, instead of seeing signs that say “Watch for falling rocks,” I saw signs that said, “Mind your windscreen.”

On the tube, instead of hearing “Watch your step,” I heard, “Mind the gap.” (VBG)

I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about China . . . and it made me a little sad. Beijing is trying to get ready for the 2008 Summer Olympics, so they are going throughout the country and “fixing” signs that have comical or perplexing (to us) translations.

For instance–on a park lawn, instead of reading “Keep Off the Grass,” the current sign says, “Show Mercy to the Tender Grass.”

On a handicapped sign–beneath a picture of a wheelchair–the English reads “Deformed Person.”

They’ve already put up a new sign on the “Hospital of Proctology” which was formerly known as “The Dongda Hospital for Anus and Intestine Disease.”

The Chinese have already replaced road signs that used to say “To take notice of safe: The slippery are very crafty.” (Meaning: Be careful, slippery walkway.)

I remember watching the excellent Chinese movie, “Raise the Red Lantern.” The translator who did the subtitles obviously didn’t speak English as his first language, but most of the translations were understandable. One of them, though, made me chuckle. One wife was speaking to another wife, and the second wife was pouting. I think the first wife meant to say, “Don’t be so moody,” but in the subtitles she said, “Don’t be so groovy.”

I hope the Chinese don’t completely eradicate the traces of their unique interpretations. I, for one, find most of them groovy.

1 Comment

  1. Accidental Poet

    As long as they don’t stop calling the Zoo the “Garden of a Thousand Animals”.


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