One of the joys of traveling abroad is reading bad English translations of signs and instructions. Now the Chinese government wants to take the fun out of it.
The government is cracking down on bad English in advance of the 2008 Olympics, on the grounds that signs such as ""Careful Landslip Attention Security" are somehow embarrassing.
Now, I know I’ve been a little preachy about tolerance for language differences. I’ve suggested that it’s rude and wrong to laugh at anyone who makes the effort to speak a second language. And it is.
But signs are different. They don’t mind if you laugh at them.
Besides, English is a ridiculously difficult language with almost incomprehensible spelling. It can come out kind of funny even when it’s translated perfectly. (Try explaining the phrase "pretty ugly" to a non-native speaker.)
So, go ahead. Laugh before the translation police take away all the funny signs.
(My colleague Paul Stern points out an NPR story on this topic that is very funny.)