Getting straight to the point – Signs in China lost in translation


*Warning – don’t read this post if you are easily offended!

Ages ago I accompanied a female friend to one of the big Chinese hospitals where she was to see a consultant.  In many ways it seemed very much the same as any western hospital, long corridors with shiny blue lino floors, rows of plastic chairs to sit on whilst waiting etc. However I did notice one BIG difference.  All the signs pointing people to different departments were in both Chinese and English – how helpful I thought.  Then I looked at a couple of signs more closely and this particular one startled me. Talk about getting straight to the point!

I’m afraid I didn’t have the courage to go and tell someone at the hospital that they should change the English translation of their signs.

About herschelian

Recently moved to Beijing from London - its all new to me! Trying to learn Chinese, and what makes this city tick.
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4 Responses to Getting straight to the point – Signs in China lost in translation

  1. Oh my! I just got back to Australia from Shanghai and saw a few ‘signs’ but nothing quite so confronting…mostly funny. Wish I would have taken some photos to share as well. Keep the funny lost in translation signs coming too…

  2. Sheila Taylor says:

    That one took my breath away. Talk about cultural differences!!

  3. Kit says:

    Hilarious! I wonder who their translator was and where they learned their English?!

  4. herschelian says:

    Hi Twoplaces, Sheila, Kit – I’ve done some asking around and I think the department the ‘rude’ sign is indicating is what we would call the ‘colposcopy’ department. Having said that, I sort of like the directness of their signage. In the west we call the cuff /monitor that gets strapped round one’s arm to measure blood pressure a ‘sphygmomanometer’ – the Chinese cut the obfuscation and call it ‘blood pressure measurer’….it seems in medicine we hide behind Greek and Latin rather than be outspoken about what is being done.

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