Shanghai tackles poor Translations

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Tourists visiting Shanghai for next year’s World Expo could be confused by signs on wet floors reading “Slip Carefully!”

So authorities in China want to make sure they never see them.

The Shanghai government, along with neighbouring Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, published a 20-page guide book this week to standardise signs and eliminate notoriously bad, and sometimes amusing, English translations.

“A number of the English translations are quite baffling, others are simply awkward,” Xue Mingyang, director of the Shanghai Education Commission, was quoted as telling the China Daily.

The official campaign prompted local media to share favourite mistranslations.

At Shanghai’s iconic Oriental Pearl Tower, visitors are warned “Ragamuffin, drunken people and psychotics are forbidden to enter”, according to the Shanghaiist city blog.

A malfunctioning online translation tool may have helped a restaurant named “Translate server error” get its photo published in Tuesday’s Oriental Morning Post. The sign’s Chinese characters merely read “Restaurant”.

The nearly 400 standard translations included in the guidelines were devised by linguists and experts from Shanghai universities.

They range from the basic labelling of men’s and women’s toilets to a stern “No Smoking, Eating, Drinking or Loitering”.

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