Mistranslation - panic Carefully

Is There Any Other Way to Panic?

Either this is another sign that tries to appeal to Eastern Zen sensibilities, or there is another way to panic. An English speaker upon seeing a “Panic Carefully” sign on an emergency exit door would definitely stop and give it some thought. It raises the question of whether there is any other way to panic.

Obviously, the sign should have read “Do Not Panic” or, nowadays, signs like this would advice that “In an emergency, do not panic.” This Japanese translation falls way short of expectations, considering that there are lots of Japanese/English signs in Japan. Japan has been one of the biggest trading partners of the Western world for more than 40 years now. Western tourists are drawn to Japan for its unique culture, and outstanding technology. Most signs in Japan are bilingual, and this panic sign does not meet expectations.

There is no way that the Japanese, or any other nationality can panic differently from the rest of the world. Panic, in any language or culture, is a reaction, which is the same all over the world.

Translations for signs have to be short and concise. For emergency or warning signs, the words are also usually standard warnings, like those for fire, or earthquakes. In most instances, there are standard graphics for emergency exits and the warnings that come with those doors.

Although there should not be a contrary view, the wordings on the sign, does present an alternative, wherein in a cultured environment, where grandmothers create signs for general use, “Panic Carefully” does hold some merit. As much as panic is a reaction where the mental and physical faculties are off as the person gives way to fear and anxiety, there should be a way to tone down panic. Maybe in that alternate reality, when panic is done carefully, cooler heads would prevail and prevent injuries during emergencies.

Image credit – via Pinterest

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