The Park Cannot Be Temporary, Can It?

When translating between languages, one common mistake is encountered when a single word means one or more things. Another common mistake is the conjugation for tenses, or when using a word as a verb instead of a noun, and vice versa.

The sign almost, but not quite, succeeds. The problem with the translation is that it picked up on the “park” but not on “parking.” It only picked up on the root word and not on the actual word. The result is an English translation, which is vague and can mean anything. Without looking at the context of the message, the sign can mean that there is a temporary park, and that it is used for “getting off.”

A better translation would have been, “Temporary parking only, to allow for passengers to step out of their vehicles.” The Chinese can and do have long signs, and if the Chinese characters are an indication, it might be a verbose reminder.

The English-speaking guest to China would not have any problems understanding the translation. They would adjust their frame of mind to include these mistranslations. Just as the English translation almost succeeds, the English-speaking traveler can almost understand what is meant, especially if it is within the correct context.

Sometimes a failed translation can be salvaged, and can be understandable if the reader knows where he is, or where the sign is. Knowing that this place is in front of a building where passengers can alight helps solve the problem. Alternatively, the context of the sign can also be gleaned by what the locals do. A third possibility is that since this is obviously a sign for drivers, English-speaking drivers would know enough of their environment to understand the local language, before they is allowed to drive a vehicle.

Image credit – 22 Hilariously Inappropriate Mistranslations via Buzzfeed

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