Lost in Translation

16 Jun

Lost in Translation

Going abroad is delightful, but culture clashes and language snafus can leave travelers shaking their heads. Have a laugh as we explore poorly translated signs, unusual bathroom plumbing, creative transportation options and particularly bizarre food.

 'Male Man' sign on restroom door, Shanghai, China (© Jonathan Kingston/Aurora Photos/Corbis)

Lost in Translation: Male Man

Gentlemen: Should you find yourself in need of a restroom while traveling in Shanghai, you’ll be pleased to know that relief is on the way. Comic relief, that is. This sign is likely to have you scratching your head and wondering just how many kinds of men there are.

Slide show text by Robin Dalmas, Bing Travel; photo editing by Connie Ricca.

Humorous 'Ladies' restroom sign, Cornwall, England (© Kristi J. Black/Corbis)

Lost in Translation: No Ladies at Any Time

Female travelers the world over know the value of finding a clean, well-lighted restroom — soon and often. But if you saw this sign in Cornwall, England, would you be delighted or just confused? If we didn’t know any better, we’d think that Monty Python’s Flying Circus was in charge of signage for Cornwall bathrooms. Presumably, the lady with a full bladder will need to seek out the “No Men at Any Time” sign. Good luck with that.
 'Enjoy English, enjoy yourself' sign advertising a language school, Yangshuo, Guangxi Province, China (© Design Pics/SuperStock)

Lost in Translation: Enjoy English, Enjoy Yourself

This sign advertises a language school in Yangshuo, Guangxi Province, China. The translator, however, could probably benefit from a few more language lessons. While the English majors of the world will tell you that mastery of words, grammar, spelling and punctuation will earn you a great job and the respect of your colleagues, we hardly associate mastery of the English language with “enjoying yourself.” Or do we?
 'Please don’t litter up' sign, Beijing, China  (© Kymri Wilt/

Lost in Translation: Please Don’t Litter Up

Citizens of Beijing can be proud that their city is taking steps to combat the scattering of trash. But when it comes to this “Please Don’t Litter Up” sign, we find the translation to be a bit messy, indeed. We can’t wait to see how the Chinese would translate “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute.”
Photography sign with humorous translation, The Three Gorges Museum, Chongqing City, China (© Walter Bibikow/

Lost in Translation: What Is a Camera Horse?

This sign at the Three Gorges Museum in Chongqing City, China, is probably discouraging you from using flash photography inside. But we’d sure like to know the definition of “camera horse.” Could this be a new kind of webcam for watching mares, foals and stallions in action? Sounds like hours of fun. Pony it up.
Arabic stop sign, Atlas Mountains, Morocco (© David Samuel Robbins/Corbis)

Lost in Translation: Arabic Stop Sign

You’ll find signs like this one in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and all over the Arabic world. Fortunately, the traveler does not need to know Arabic to figure out the meaning of this sign. So pay attention, stop pushing on the slanted pedal — and stop.


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Posted by on June 16, 2010 in Travel


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