Sino-French language lessons

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Chinese signs from Quora.  Since they are rather lengthy and come with French explanations, I will depart from my usual Language Log treatment of providing Romanizations, transcriptions, and translations for the Chinese.  Instead, I will only give English translations (based mainly on Google translations of the French, with slight modifications).

En raison de la population nombreuse et du nombre insuffisant d'agents de police, les Chinois ont développé une culture unique en matière de panneaux d'avertissement intimidants :

Panneau de signalisation : "Veuillez conduire en toute sécurité, il n'y a pas d'hôpital à proximité".

Due to the large population and insufficient number of police officers, the Chinese have developed a unique culture of intimidating warning signs.

Warning sign: "Please drive safely, there is no hospital nearby".

Immeuble de bureaux : "Interdiction de stationner, pour toutes violations on dégonfle vos pneus."

Office building: "No parking, for all violations we deflate your tires."

Chantier de construction : "Mes chers travailleurs, lorsque vous êtes au travail, faites attention à la sécurité. En cas d’accident, un autre type dormira avec votre femme, battra vos enfants et dépensera votre assurance vie! Travaillez en toute sécurité, pour votre propre intérêt."

Construction site: “My dear workers, when you are at work, pay attention to safety. In the event of an accident, another guy will sleep with your wife, beat your children, and spend your life insurance! [This is] for your own sake."

Surveillance de quartier : "Attention à tous les voleurs! Une fois capturé, vous serez battu du début à la fin de l'allée. Cette allée mesure 786 mètres de long."

Neighborhood Watch: "Watch out all thieves! Once captured, you will be beaten from start to finish of the alley. This alley is 786 meters long."

Ce sont de vrais signes avant-coureurs, sans blague.

These are real warning signs, no joke.

Selected readings

[h.t. Laura Morland]


  1. DaveK said,

    September 23, 2021 @ 4:26 pm

    These signs are intended as humor, aren’t they? They remind me of signs I’ve occasionally seen in stores in the US:
    “Don’t even think of parking here”
    “Shoplifters will be beaten to death”
    “Unattended children will be given a triple espresso and a new puppy”
    I think most of those have disappeared for liability reasons

  2. Clément said,

    September 23, 2021 @ 7:36 pm

    Something magical happened in this post:

    1. An answer on quora in English (;
    2. then Quora displayed a machine translation of it and that was sent to you, Victor;
    3. and then you used a new layer of machine translation, plus manual fixes, to revert to English.

    And amazingly, the new English matches the original English pretty well! I suspect it's because you were partly translating from the source Chinese, too?

  3. Clément said,

    September 23, 2021 @ 7:39 pm

    Ah, but that's not it! It's a manual translation to French.

  4. Bloix said,

    September 24, 2021 @ 10:36 am

    "No parking, for all violations we deflate your tires."

    There are still blocks in Brooklyn where this will happen. The difference is, there aren't any no warning signs.

  5. B.Ma said,

    September 26, 2021 @ 12:11 pm

    If you deflate my tyres, I definitely can't move my car.

  6. Daniel Barkalow said,

    September 27, 2021 @ 4:06 pm

    That sounds like a ridiculous exaggeration for effect. There's no way an alley is really 786 meters long.

  7. Philip Taylor said,

    September 28, 2021 @ 4:20 am

    There is one in Beijing, Daniel, that is almost three kilometres long according to the authors of this article:

    Dongjiaominxiang Hutong starts from Tiananmen Square in the west and ends at Chongwenmen street in the east, with a total length of nearly 3 km. It is the longest Hutong in old Beijing. It used to be a famous embassy area.

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