Posts tagged with: signs

If it already has a name, use it

UK train stations are a rich source of poorly-written and confusing signs. Take this label, spotted at Reading station.

‘Platform lighting controller’? That’ll be what the rest of us call a light switch.

I can’t think of a single situation where you’d ever describe this as a ‘platform lighting controller’, so why do so here? It just creates confusion.

I particularly like the helpful information beneath: ‘When the indictor [sic] is lit, platform lights are on.’ Spelling error aside, it’s worth knowing that I spotted this label while standing on the platform. So I expect it’s fairly obvious when the lights are on. It would be dark otherwise.

Complicated terminology makes things harder to understand. Unnecessary information detracts from the really important stuff. As labels go, this is a good example of how not to do it.

Chinglish: English signs in China, part two

A week or so ago I posted a bunch of badly-translated signs I spotted while on holiday in China in 2009. Here’s the second installment.

1. At least people will remember the name

I actually spotted this shop in Hong Kong’s Mong Kok area. With that name, I wonder if they’ve ever considered expanding into the UK.

Sign saying 'Wanko'

2. Choiceness raw material

Mmmm, appetising.

Choiceness raw material

3. Protect CircumStance

Spotted on the back of a bin in Shanghai. I guess the sentiment is right, even if the wording could be better. And CircumStance could be a strangely-capitalised web 2.0 brand.

Sign saying 'Protect CircumStance begin with me'

4. …from the small start around

Is this the Chinese equivalent of ‘every little helps’? Actually, I think it’d be great if recycling bins over here were called reverse vending machines.

Reverse vending machine

5. Step into my office

Of all the signs I saw, this was the one that made me laugh out loud. Spotted in a shop in Beijing’s super-cool 798 Space (well worth a visit, by the way). I wonder if the people in the office got more than they bargained for.

Sign saying 'Touch us in the office'

Chinglish signs: English in China, part one

Chinglish is English which has been inaccurately translated into Chinese. I always thought its prevalence on signs and notices in China was overstated. Until, that is, I visited to China for myself in 2009. Here are five of the best examples I spotted on that three week trip.

1. No strinding

Spotted at Chengdu Panda Base. Please, please drop me a line if you know what this means.

No strinding sign

2. Don’t visit the head

If you happen to visit the Great Wall at Mutianyu, make sure you don’t lose your head. Or something.

Sign for cable car at Mutianyu

There must be a lot of concern for people’s heads. Spotted at the Summer Palace.


4. Avoid this restaurant

I think I had a curry with similar after-effects once.

Sign saying Patty explode the stomach

5. The grass is smiling

The Olympic Park in Beijing has various friendly signs encouraging you not to do things.

Sign saying 'The grass is smiling at you'

Don’t forget to check back soon for part two…