Forbids tutu enter the mosque

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Carley De Rosa sent in the following photograph taken at the Niujie (Ox Street) Mosque (Niújiē lǐbàisì; simplified 牛街礼拜寺, traditional 牛街禮拜寺) in Beijing:

Chinese on sign:

Jìnzhǐ chuān duǎnkù duǎnqún huò yīguān bùshì zhě jìn sì.


Chinglish on sign:

Forbids to put on the short tutu or clothes illness enter the mosque

Correct English:

It is forbidden to enter the mosque wearing shorts, a short skirt, or other improper clothing.

Since I have just spent the New Year's holiday with my three-year-old granddaughter in Dallas, who loves to wear a gauzy, short skirt — whether at her dance class or at home — I am quite familiar with what a "short tutu" is, but I still have to work at grasping the connotations of "clothes illness" before I am satisfied that I understand all the nuances of this charming sign.


  1. Geoff Wade said,

    January 13, 2013 @ 6:43 pm

    身体不适 = illness

    衣冠不适 = clothing illness (logically enough)

  2. Daniel Tse said,

    January 13, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

    I found the way that many public signs in mainland China condense the typeface visually unappealing and rather hard to read.

  3. S. Tsow said,

    January 13, 2013 @ 10:06 pm

    Given the wording of the "Subject" box, I thought this was about Archbishop Desmond Tutu being forbidden to enter a mosque. Here in Thailand, "clothes illness" is usually rendered in English as "impolite clothes."

  4. Victor Mair said,

    January 14, 2013 @ 6:41 am

    I think you've nailed it, Geoff.

    I agree with Daniel Tse. These characters are scrunched together sideways and too elongated top to bottom, making them look rectangular instead of square, as characters should be (fāngkuàizì 方块字).

    @S. Tsow:

    The picture you present of Bishop Desmond Tutu attempting to enter the Ox Street Mosque wearing impolite clothing is truly fascinating.

  5. mollymooly said,

    January 14, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

    My clothes get ill when my wardrobe malfunctions.

  6. Ted said,

    January 14, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

    Wow. I would not have parsed the Chinglish "clothes illness" as a single lexical item. I would have understood this to mean that you cannot enter the mosque if either (a) you have put on a short tutu or [other short] clothes, or (b) you are ill.

  7. Gianni said,

    January 14, 2013 @ 8:34 pm

    Your post reminds me of this pic:

  8. X.Jiao said,

    January 16, 2013 @ 9:12 pm

    I think it's quite awkward to condense 不合适 into 不适 in the first place.

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