One of the things Iâve heard about China before arriving was that the English translations I would see on signs and literature might not be the best use of English.Â While in Beijing, we saw lots of examples of signs that were just funny.Â In the pool area of our hotel is a sign that says âSlip and fall down carefullyâ.
While at the Beijing Amusement Park, most of the rides included Alcoholism as one of the symptoms you might have to prevent you from going on a ride (âYou must not ride this if you suffer from Heart problems, pregnancy, or alcoholism.âÂ I kept imagining recovering alcoholics staying off these rides in case they caused a relapse.
Most of the Westerners we saw in Beijing were not English speakers (or at least not as a first language).Â We heard people speaking Russian, French, and Swedish . . . but all the signs that were translated, were shown in Chinese and English.Â My son pointed out to me, when he saw a sign that said to turn off you cell phone instead of mobile phone, that they were specifically translated into American English.
Some of the signs were okay, but so many were either vague (a sign along a river bank says âPlease away from the waterâ) or complicated (the instructions for how to pay for food in the Food Republic food court at the APM shopping centre on Wanfujing street is impossible to read).Â Some are intentionally cute and funny, like a sign in the Olympic village that says âThe Grass is smiling at you”.
This is often referred to as Chinglish.Â The BBC ran story while we were still over there with several other photos of strange Chinglish signs.Â The story is here.
Outside the Forbidden City (on the East Gate) is a set of posh toilets.Â (The only reason I call them posh is because it costs 1 yuan –about 10p– to use them.Â The sign above the doors in Chinese says that itâs the room for men to urinate in.Â But, here greeting you as you enter one of Chinaâs most revered treasures, is my favourite sign of all:
The kids love saying it, now.