Pictographs are meant to make signs easier to comprehend. These signs are supposed to be self-explanatory and not subject to cultural barriers. They could easily be understood by anyone from any part of the world. It is when mistranslations appear under these pictographs that confusion may arise.
Maybe it is with the sincere intention to avoid confusion, that these signages have English texts below each of the pictographs. But unfortunately it did not help any and on the contrary even got it all the more confusing – using feman instead of female and male man instead of man. All you could do is speculate as to how these translations came to be. One thing is certain though – the translations are gender related and therefore are attempts to give an interpretation of the pictograph above them.
An English speaker could easily figure out what it means and maybe just shrug and grin at the Chinglish translation. It could however be a totally different scenario if the signs were read by somebody who does not have a good command of the language.
China is experiencing rapid progress as foreigners flock to their country for business and trade. The once reclusive nation is now a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors from different parts of the world. Signs with English translations are now common sights in the streets of China. These signs are meant to help foreigners travel with ease and convenience despite the language barrier. But many signs unfortunately add more confusion than clarity.
Many visitors to the Beijing Olympics were witnesses to the confusion many poorly translated signs caused. Mistranslation of public signs is an emergent issue that the Chinese government is trying to address, realizing the negative effect these mistranslations have on their image. It is an issue that has caught the attention and concern of the academe and the general public as well.
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