Sunday, June 15, 2008

Chinese Signs I've personally seen

From my 13 trips, over 3 years, totally about 6 months in China (Chengdu, Chongqing, Xian, Beijing, Shanghai, Wuxi, Guangzhou, ShenZhen, Guiyang) there were several signs that were quite ironic, amusing, or just plain silly.

Distroy - how much would a native English Speaker, to proof read the sign maker's work order, would have cost?

This "Care of the Green" sign was posted in Tiananmen Square (circa 1999, 10 years after the student protests). "Care of the Green"... really?

This was in the old Hangzhou Shanghai Airport (before they built the fancy Pudong modern airport on the more modern side of town). I am not sure how adverbs make for a meaningful warning sign... perhaps a good editorial observation of traits that someone should demonstrate when motoring around the airport, but "DRIVING CAUTIOUSLY, AVOIDING AIR-CRAFT" ... just didn't really make much sense.

"No spitting", "No crowding" ... in a Chinese airport (or any public place that involves getting in lines) both of these are extremely common place. "Back of the line" and "wait your turn" are meaningless phrases which the modern Chinese traveler or tourist ignores, contemptuously. Being that I was a foot taller and had 50% more body mass than most of the Chinese pushers and shovers, when I got pushed, and then I pushed them back, the errant Chinese (usually male) gave me a much "wider berth" and typically didn't repeat his foolish rudeness.

I know there are sites online that show all sorts of mis-translated products, and postings, but these are the ones I saw personally. An upcoming post will rail against the "systematic idealization" of China by the media, as the Olympics approach.

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