I spotted the first sign on the Great Wall. The sign in Chinese says: 保护文物 — 请勿便溺。 This can be translated as “Protect the heritage — don’t soil”. Was the original meaning of the sign too harsh for foreigners? We are here just encouraged to “commit no nuisance”!
I found the other one on the subway door. In Chinese, it says: 禁止倚靠。 This means “don’t rest/ lean on (the door)”. Which is understand much better than “beam on”!
I found that one when visiting the Ming Tombs, nearby the Great Wall. In Chinese, this is:芳草萋萋，踏之何忍。 A better translation would be “don’t step on the luxuriant grass”. Now, let’s look at the picture again: does it look like a patch of luxuriant grass to you? I thought so.
This one was my last Chinglish sign in Beijing: it was at the airport, in the smoking room. To be honest, when I first read it in English, I didn’t have a clue of what it meant. Now, the Chinese is: 请不要把烟灰弹入此外。 Literally, “don’t throw your ashes in there” (“there” was the air conditioning’s grille). Why “bomb”? I think this is just common airport paranoia…
I found that sign at the Summer Palace. I’m being picky here, because “rockery” is a real word(just British). Still, it made me laugh.
This one was found on the Great Wall as well, nearby the Bear Park. In Chinese, it says: 保护野生动物，就是保护人类自已。 Basically, “Wildlife protection is also the protection of mankind”.
This one was taken nearby the Silk Market. In Chinese, this is: 小心碰头. This can be literally translated as “don’t bump your head”, or better, “watch your head”.
The last one is perhaps the most mysterious of all. I found it in the middle of a street and it says: 注意距离。The translation is almost accurate: it would say it’s more like “watch the distance”. But what did they mean? Could that be “maintain an appropriate distance” and thus refer to people rather than, as I had assume, to traffic? Was this sign encouraging the “个人区域” (“personal space”)? This is a mystery to me!
In all fairness, I must admit there are less “Chinglish” signs than let’s say ten years ago! Yet, they still make me laugh…