This is one of the most hilarious signs I’ve seen anywhere and to see it hanging on a door in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, made it even more hysterical. Maybe this is the Vietnamese version of shaming a deadbeat landlord.
I love words and I love to see what people do with them when translating or communicating in another country. The English language can be tricky – think of all the words that sound alike but are spelled differently, such as sine and sign. These homonyms must be a constant source of frustration for the English learner – the devil is in the details.
Some signs are fun and humorous in their depiction, such as this “Beware of Dog” sign in France. Yikes!! Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words and possibly a deferred medical bill. Notice the absence of underwear.
And here is another sign you don’t see every day. Kind of made me want to jump on the ramparts, but I had to ask my friend, “What EXACTLY are ramparts?” And would I incite the fury of the French police if I tiptoed across one? I’m sure the French version of jail with bread and water might actually mean Perrier and croissants. Unless it’s really as grim as in Les Misérables. I settled for the photo.
I found this sign to be so politely perfect while walking through one of the temples at Angkor Wat, that I couldn’t even be upset that they had blocked a section to tourists.
There is the occasional best attempt to translate into English and it is generally not a bad effort, if only off by one letter. I let it go, with a chuckle. I can’t even pretend to translate into Cambodian. My sign would probably end up saying, “Vice Shop and Drug Shop.” And then I would wonder why I had such a shady clientele.
And sometimes the concept is communicated…. well, almost. I get it. This is not a hat.
And then I found this especially interesting. I had turned on the TV in a small hotel in Sittwe, Myanmar and found the movie “Tremors” playing. But what really surprised me was the notices that kept popping up every time one of the actors lit a cigarette! “Smoking causes Cancer. Smoking Kills.” And this was in a hotel where I actually had to move rooms because the stench of smoke in the hallway was so horrendous. Go figure.
I’ve decided I could make an entire career by translating various signs all over the world. I’ve visited amazing places like the Shanghai Museum, knowing they’ve made a huge effort to translate exhibit descriptions into the internationally recognized language of English, and then I see a small misstep that always seems to catch my attention. I know I’m not perfect either so I just smile and keep reading. The intent is genuine and that is most important.
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