Archive for Signs

"Language Log" — a request

As you are aware, our fans in China and elsewhere around the world would like to translate "Language Log" into their own languages.  The problem is that there are different words for "language" and "log" in the many languages that they wish to cover.

For example, the Romance languages distinguish between the faculty of language—the human capacity to communicate, using spoken or written signs—from specific oral or written natural languages (French, Mandarin, etc.). One chooses between one word or the other depending on the subject under discussion. In English, the same word can be used for both phenomena.

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Language Log logo and t-shirts

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Cantonese term on a traffic sign

Jeff Demarco writes:

My son snapped this photo on his way home from Hong Kong Disneyland. Wasn't quite sure what was intended…

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Progress in the war on Chinglish

If you see the two big letters "GB" in the top right corner of an official publication from the Chinese government, you know it's serious.  Those letters stand for Guójiā Biāozhǔn 国家标准 ("National standard").

In the present instance, they have promulgated, as of December 1, 2017, "Guidelines for the use of English in public service areas — Part 9:  Accommodation and catering".  They also have issued similar guidelines for transportation, tourism, culture and entertainment, sports and athletics, education, medicine and sanitation / health / hygiene, communication, and commerce / business and finance.

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Ask paanwalla for direction: be Indian

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Fixed point

From dako-xiaweiyi:

Some years ago I was hiking in a remote part of Inner Mongolia with some Chinese friends when we came into a larger than normal village with a larger than normal building with the sign in the attached picture:

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Civilized urinating

Is this Chinglish?

Source:  "Lost in translation: Chinese government aims to reduce awkward English signs" (CBS News [10/28/17]), with several other prime examples.

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A sign pointing to a sign

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M & W WC

Zeyao Wu took these two pictures in Guangzhou. She found these signs in a small market which sells vegetables and fruits.


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The sociolinguistics of the Chinese script

Jonathan Benda posted this on Facebook recently:

Reading [Jan Blommaert's] _Language and Superdiversity_ in preparation for my Writing in Global Contexts course in the fall. Does anyone else think the following conclusions about this sign are somewhat wrongheaded?

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Bad Chinese

Sign south of the demolished Pfeiffer Bridge on Highway 1 in Monterey County (photograph taken on August 12, 2017 by Richard Masoner while on a Big Sur bike trip, via Flickr):

Bad machine translation

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Annals of redundancy and masochism

Two gems from Chris Brannick via Facebook (the first is from the site of the Immortality Pills in Guangzhou and the second is from the Langham Place Hotel, also in Guangzhou):


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Katakana in Australia

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