## Drainage issues

Photograph taken in Hong Kong:

The Chinese says:

qúwù wèntí gù zhǐ néng zuò xiǎojiě   jìngqǐng hézuò

"Since there are drainage problems, can only be used for urination.  Your cooperation is respectfully requested."

BTW:

GT:  "The drainage problem can only be explained briefly, please cooperate."

Baidu Fanyi:  "Due to drainage issues, we can only provide a brief explanation. Thank you for your cooperation."

Bing:  "The problem of drainage can only be solved slightly, please cooperate."

DeepL:  "Drainage problems so only a small explanation please cooperate."

As to how and why "jiě 解" ("untie; loosen; divide; break up; split; separate; remove; eliminate; undo; cancel; resolve; solve; find an answer; explain; understand; interpret; [mathematics] solution") can also mean "excrete; go to the toilet", a usage that goes back at least two millennia, it would take a small philological treatise to adequately explain.  Especially challenging is the explication of the binom "jiěshǒu 解手" ("relieve oneself" [lit. "untie / loosen hand"]).

1. ### Cuconnacht said,

June 26, 2023 @ 10:05 am

Both shit and excrement derive from roots meaning separate, split, so the similar history of jiě does not surprise me.

2. ### Paul Frank said,

June 26, 2023 @ 12:43 pm

Let's see what Perplexity Pro does with this:
https://www.perplexity.ai/search/b393cd49-c98c-4555-997e-df9aefdcea24?s=c
Subsequent questions prompted by Perplexity, not me.

3. ### Victor Mair said,

June 26, 2023 @ 4:47 pm

Well, Perplexity Pro is certainly prolix on the subject, but my suggestion of "relieve (oneself)" is more succinct and elegant, if not eloquent.

4. ### Chris Button said,

June 26, 2023 @ 6:07 pm

As to how and why "jiě 解" ("untie; loosen; divide; break up; split; separate; remove; eliminate; undo; cancel; resolve; solve; find an answer; explain; understand; interpret; [mathematics] solution") can also mean "excrete; go to the toilet", a usage that goes back at least two millennia, it would take a small philological treatise to adequately explain. Especially challenging is the explication of the binom "jiěshǒu 解手" ("relieve oneself" [lit. "untie / loosen hand"]).

The word family associated with 屎 with its lateral onset ultimately seems to go back to a meaning of “separate, split” as well.

5. ### Vampyricon said,

July 2, 2023 @ 11:38 pm

Interesting that they use 小解 instead of 小便. Sad to see the continued Mandarinization of Hong Kong