Archive for Signs

Multiple possible parsings of strings of sinographs

[line spacing was difficult with this one]

Chinese signs collected by Zeyao Wu:

本店/有/嬰兒被/賣 or 本店/有/嬰兒/被賣
běn diàn yǒu yīng'ér bèi                                  mài
this shop has baby   passive signifier; blanket for sale
"this shop has baby blankets for sale" or "this shop has had babies for sale"

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Shameful grass

Liwei Jiao sent in this photograph from a park in Hefei, China:

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Concoction and elaboration

Notice in a men's room at National Central University (NCU) in Taoyuan, Taiwan:


First of all, let me say that I don't believe this notice gives a true account of something that really happened at NCU, namely, that the male students were peeing upward toward the ceiling.  Below I'll explain what I think really happened.

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Is this authentic Cantonese?

A decade or so ago, we often had discussions about whether or not what was alleged / claimed to be Cantonese writing really was.  Now it is good to see native speakers asking the same questions.

From a post of Wan Chin, a controversial scholar/ cultural critic in Hong Kong.

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Hurting the feelings of the Chinese people in Tokyo?

Sign outside a Tokyo restaurant:


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Jumbled pinyin

I spotted this not-too-old post on Stephen Jones: a blog, "Interpreting pinyin" (10/9/17).

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Not quite Chinglish

Signs in a Chinese park:

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Scrambled strokes

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Opacity of the week: all pills $11.95

That's the sign on the door of a gas station that I saw in Media, Delaware County, Pennsylvania.  It had pictures of four different packages of pills, but the lettering on them was so blurred that I couldn't see what types or brands of pills they were.



That was the only sign on the door, and it was very prominent:  right in the center of the door as you entered.  As I stepped inside the store, I was wondering mightily:  why are they selling you pills when they don't tell you what kind of pills they are?

After going inside and paying for my gas, I asked the two female attendants, who were all dressed up in holiday attire, what kind of pills they were, both of them said in unison, "male enhancement", as though they had rehearsed the answer hundreds of times.  I was embarrassed and so were they, so I got out as fast as I could.

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Massachusett Cambridge

It was bound to happen:

New street signs with Massachusett language translation will be installed in East Cambridge

More than 70 new signs will designate First through Eighth Streets after a participatory budget item.

Molly Farrar, (12/6/23)

The article doesn't say much about Massachusett, but at the least we should note that it is an Algonquian language and that it had a surprisingly high degree of literacy.

The Massachusett language is an Algonquian language of the Algic language family that was formerly spoken by several peoples of eastern coastal and southeastern Massachusetts. In its revived form, it is spoken in four communities of Wampanoag people. The language is also known as Natick or Wôpanâak (Wampanoag), and historically as Pokanoket, Indian or Nonantum.

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English in Beijing

China has long had a love-hate relationship with the English language.  Since the late 19th century up till the mid-20th century, things were mostly peachy-creamy.  Then China fell under the tutelage of the Soviet Union and Russian linguistic influence, and English was largely shunned.  After the Sino-American love-fest initiated by Richard Nixon and Deng Xiaoping, English flourished once again as long as Deng was around and his successor Jiang Zemin, who actually knew some English, maintained a benign policy toward the language of Shakespeare.  But as increasingly hardline communist leaders rose to power, English came under attack until now, with the puritanical Marxist-Maoist Xi Jinping assuming full-blown dictatorial status, English is under the gun.

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Got wheels

Sign on a truck in Hong Kong:

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Complementary water

François Lang saw this sign at the local farmers market:

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