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Words do matter

I was sitting on my couch the other day and mindlessly watching photos of our family scroll through our computer screen. One of the signs that we encountered on our 2013 trip to China floated by. It reignited the desire to share these sometimes amusing, sometimes confusing, and occasionally head shaking Chinese to English translations. Chinglish is alive and well in China. I hope you enjoy.

It is interesting that when creating public signage, native English speakers are not consulted. The results are varied. Sometimes the main idea is clearly conveyed with just a bit of extra thought from the reader.




The most stomach dropping sign encountered on this trip was discovered in an airport inside the women’s bathroom. China certainly has no equivalent to the ADA, and political correctness is not of concern, at least not in the way an American would define it. It is a positive step that there are wheelchair accessible bathroom facilities, but…


Surely, this is in no way what the sign creator desired to communicate.

Most people I know do not consider going to the dentist a “merry” event, but I suppose that Merry could be someone’s name.


At times, it takes more than a brief moment to figure out the English messages in China. Some are confusing and left open to the reader’s interpretation.



Sometimes visuals attached to the words really help.



At times, gentle and warm feelings come when reading the signage.


Other times, the gist is conveyed, but words are out of context.


Most native English speakers would not consider this to be a yacht.


Many of the signs have to do with trash, spitting and bathrooms.The word trash would have sufficed, but the basic idea is  well communicated.


I personally used this facility and though I don’t know the universe of comparison, I would disagree with this designation.


And this one seems to be a bit wordy. It seems that “put all of your different types of waste in the proper place” would have sufficed.


Though it is fun to emotionally react to these signs, they are a reminder that choosing words carefully is often important. As a writer and a human being, I am faced with the truth of this everyday. Hopefully as we move along our various paths, we will each remember that words do, in fact, matter.