We close today for some reason

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Seen on an entry door in San Francisco:

The Chinese says:

tōngzhī 通知

tèshū yuányīn jīnrì xiūxí 特殊原因今日休息
"we are resting / closed today for a special reason"

wàng qǐng jiànliàng 望请见谅
"we hope that you will please forgive us"

We're closed today for some special reason, but we can't tell you what it is.

[h.t. Charles Belov]


"Delayed due to some reasons: annals of airport Chinglish, part 4" (3/20/13)


  1. Noel Hunt said,

    May 23, 2019 @ 1:57 am

    In Japan, they would say 都合によって休ませていただきます 'tsugou ni yotte yasumasete itadakimasu'., 'due to circumstances we take the liberty of resting (i.e. taking the day off)', without specifying any particular reason. This locution is particularly Japanese, in that it means, 'we accept that you will allow us to rest/suspend (business).'

  2. Lachlan Mackenzie said,

    May 23, 2019 @ 2:50 am

    In Dutch, too, it is normal to say "Wegens omstandigheden gesloten" (= Because.of circumstances closed). It seems that just "Gesloten" would be too curt; adding the uninformative "wegens omstandigheden" is some kind of pragmatic face-saver. If you can read Dutch, see https://www.academia.edu/4110684/Wegens_omstandigheden.

  3. other one spoon said,

    May 23, 2019 @ 3:40 am

    As the two above comments sort of hint at, even in English it's quite normal to say "due to circumstances beyond our control" on a notice such as this one, without specifying what those circumstances might be. So the issue really is one of translation, and not some bizarre alienness of Chinese culture. The "beyond our control" is so de rigueur in the English phrase, though, that it might throw some people off. Another way in which English is a really difficult language.

  4. Robot Therapist said,

    May 23, 2019 @ 5:12 am

    "…due to circumstances beyond my self-control…"

  5. Jen in Edinburgh said,

    May 23, 2019 @ 6:24 am

    I would expect 'unforeseen circumstances' for an odd day, and 'circumstances beyond our control' for something closing down completely, although I don't suppose that's universal.

    But yes, not giving the reasons is perfectly usual, phrasing it like that is a bit odd!

  6. Jerry Friedman said,

    May 23, 2019 @ 7:45 am

    It seems to me that "for some reason" is used when the speaker or writer doesn't know the reason, which would be odd for a store closing. Phrases such as "due to unforeseen circumstances" are used when the speaker does know but isn't telling you. I've seen other learners of English who had trouble with that distinction.

  7. Neil Kubler said,

    May 23, 2019 @ 8:28 am

    The expression 因故 yin1gu4, literally "because of a reason", is also used in Standard Written Chinese in a similar way. Some on-line dictionaries translate this expression as "due to unexpected circumstances," but it really just means "for a reason" (which is not going to be explained here or now.

  8. AntC said,

    May 23, 2019 @ 8:37 am

    Because reasons.

  9. Christian Weisgerber said,

    May 23, 2019 @ 12:04 pm

    In Dutch, too, it is normal to say "Wegens omstandigheden gesloten"

    And correspondingly in German: "Umständehalber geschlossen".

  10. Chas Belov said,

    May 23, 2019 @ 12:05 pm

    Thank you for the explanation. Interesting.

    In English I would have expected something like:

    Sorry, we are closed today.

    with no explanation.

  11. Chas Belov said,

    May 23, 2019 @ 12:13 pm

    Actually, I seem to recall a case at work where we had an English announcement that announced a temporary change without giving a reason, and the person doing the translation to Chinese said that in Chinese you had to give a reason. So perhaps this current sign is a reflection of that, even though they didn't specifically give the actual reason.

    This case was years ago, so I may not be recalling this correctly.

  12. Faldone said,

    May 23, 2019 @ 12:48 pm

    I suppose you could always say something like "Due to circumstances that are none of your business we are closed" but that doesn't sound very polite in any language.

  13. Scott P. said,

    May 23, 2019 @ 4:18 pm

    The oddity comes from the fact that the phrase "for some reason" in English usually refers to a reason not known to the speaker, which is incongruous in the case of a store closing.

  14. Michael Trittipo said,

    May 23, 2019 @ 11:13 pm

    One could possibly rely on implicature in English:
    "We had to close today."
    The "had to" indicates that re's a reason, and it was compelling; but there's no point in going into detail.

  15. David N. Evans said,

    May 25, 2019 @ 10:21 pm

    If "some" were changed to "good" and a comma were added after "today," the sign would almost work: "We [are] close[d] today[,] for [good] reason." (I say "almost" because of the other two changes that are needed, which go without saying.) One could even imagine this sign: "CLOSED
    (for good reason)." It's a sign that would create a sense of mystery!

  16. Scott P. said,

    May 26, 2019 @ 10:11 pm

    The most economical way to phrase the idea in English would I think be:

    "Unscheduled closure today."

  17. Nicki said,

    May 30, 2019 @ 1:03 am

    In polite English signage it's not necessary to mention a reason, but an apology is common, such as "Sorry, we are closed today!" And perhaps some indication of when regular hours will resume. Word for word translations without consideration of cultural norms often fail in tone, and even sometimes in conveying any relevant meaning at all.

  18. BZ said,

    June 3, 2019 @ 2:50 pm

    What, no one is going to mention that "we close today" means "forever" unless otherwise qualified? Also that "we" are still open as of the time the sign was posted? As for "for some reason", maybe whoever made the sign didn't know the reason?

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