“Execution in Progress” – The Dangers Of Translating Without Context

This ominous sign seems to be pointing toward a very unfortunate and disturbing event, when it should have simply warned passersby about a construction area. Such an unfortunate mistranslation, from Chinese into English, resulted in a glaringly out-of-place sign, obvious to any English speaker. We can only hope that inattentive tourists didn’t end up believing that executions are everyday events on the streets of China (and are even advertised on street signs!).

According to Day Translations’ professional translators, this mistranslation is probably the result of working without a context. Our translators agree that, if the context had been taken into account—as it always should be—the mistake would have been easily avoided.

Our English-Chinese translators understand that, generally, translating Chinese text one word at a time does not lead to accurate translations. In this case, “ 施 ” means “execute,” “ 工 ”means “work,” “ 進行 ” means “conduct” and “ 中 ”means “ongoing.” It can be tricky to string these meanings together without knowing the final destination of the translation—this is why translations should always be left in the hands of professionals.

At Day Translations, we work exclusively with professional language experts with many years of experience in a variety of fields. Regardless of the size of your translation request, we can always help. As a leading translation services provider, we present you with an accurate translation of the original Chinese phrase: “UNDER CONSTRUCTION” (which makes much more sense, doesn’t it?).

Do you think the Chinese phrase should have been translated differently? If you have any translation suggestions, feel free to leave us a comment below. We’d love to read what you have to say!

Image credit: “Under Construction”sign, taken somewhere in China.