Friday, October 05, 2007

English Mishaps

You'd think they might bother proofreading any signs that would be displayed publicly to an international audience. When will people learn that languages don't translate exactly, word for word?

Throughout Korea I've come across numerous examples of English Mishaps that are meant with the best of intentions to inform, educate and illuminate. The message is lost when you are laughing so hard you can't figure out the intended meaning. These signs were a sampling of the ones we found in China that ranged from the strange to the comical. Most of them were a two-for one deal.

Obviously they weren't written by anyone with English as his/her first language and it is very likely they simply translated the signs using a Chinese-English dictionary. Thank you writers, for providing my chuckle of the day. I hope that cellphone doesn't get arrested for talking during a thunderstorm.
Heart cerebral?? Does that mean that those who have hearts for brains shouldn't climb the wall or those that have brains for hearts should avoid it? Either way, the eyes in the wall should easily watch those bumbling fools.
Avoid breaking out into a chorus of YMCA and definitely 'don't letter up'. I think it means that graffiti is illegal but I kinda prefer their version. 'Environmental Sanitation of the Scenic Spot Needs Your Conserve.' Huh??
'No Smoking Fireproofing Caution' and 'Cherish the Cultural Relic Please Don't Scribble'. I want to introduce whoever wrote this sign to Lynne Truss. She'd have a field day with it. Have you ever heard of a comma?!?

This last sign was located half way up a mountain at the Summer Palace in Beijing. Thank goodness they told me about the incline. I couldn't figure out why I was out of breath after climbing the first 50 meters and gaining that much elevation...then they pointed out that it was hilly. Mind means 'to be careful of' in this sense of use. One can be careful of ice and step around icy spots. One can be careful of hot coffee and prevent the possibility of spilling it. But how does one go about being careful of a hill?!? Is the hill going to jump out at you? Is it going to rise and fall with such speed that your legs will be swept out from under you? Enlighten me.

What is your favorite publicly posted English Mishap?


Tori Evans said...

I don't know if you still check your comments here, but I was googling pictures of Korea and found your blog. (Isn't the internet creepy?) I am looking into teach-English programs with my boyfriend and we could really use some more personable advice than online cafe postings. If you're willing to provide advice, I can get your comments at my email if you post them here. Thank you! -Tori

WF said...

Hi Tori,

Teaching in Korea was a great experience. I would highly recommend it to anyone. I would suggest you be selective with the school you decide to go to. Also keep an open mind with everything. Let me know if I can help answer any specific questions you have. I'm happy to help.
Good luck with your decision.