The future is dangerous: Anglo-Nipponica

« previous post | next post »

Sign at a hotel in Japan:

According to Nathan Hopson, the Japanese actually says:


Kono saki wa kiken desu no de, kore ijō mae e ikanai yō onegai itashimasu

The area beyond this [sign] is dangerous. Please do not proceed farther.

A more natural translation might be:

Danger! Do not enter.

Frank Chance reads it thus:

Transcription | Literal translation

Onegai | Request.

Kono saki wa kiken desu node, | From here on [it] is dangerous.
koreijō mae e ikanaiyō | That [you] go no farther,
onegai itashimasu. | [We] humbly request.

Idiomatic translation:

Please. Because it is dangerous from here on, we ask that you go no farther.


Whoever (or whatever) produced the English translation on the sign has a problem with spatial versus temporal nuance.

Though it is not accurate, I actually like the bad translation due to the uncertainties of the coming year.


It's all a matter of what's before you temporally and spatially.


Selected readings

[Thanks to John Rohsehow]


  1. Jim Breen said,

    January 11, 2024 @ 7:49 pm

    Ah, the perils of polysemy.

    You can't even blame GT for this – it gets it right.

  2. J.W. Brewer said,

    January 12, 2024 @ 9:13 am

    This reminds me of the title of this album, which is apparently taken from a quotation attr. Alfred North Whitehead.

  3. Yerushalmi said,

    January 14, 2024 @ 3:05 am

    It's the capitalized "Please" that does it for me. It speaks of the sign-maker's quiet desperation to prevent us from going any further into that horrible, horrible future.

RSS feed for comments on this post