Commit No Nuisance

Com­mit No Nuisance

Forbid To Beam On

For­bid To Beam On

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”!

Luxuriant Grassland, Please Don't Trample

Lux­u­ri­ant Grass­land, Please Don’t Trample

Please, Don't Bomb Into The Ash Here

Please, Don’t Bomb Into The Ash Here!

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…

Please Don't Climb The Rockeries

Please Don’t Climb The Rockeries

Protecting The Wild Animals Is Protecting Mankind Ourselves

Pro­tect­ing The Wild Ani­mals Is Pro­tect­ing Mankind Ourselves

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”.

Take Care Of Head

Take Care Of Head

Be Care Of The Distance

Be Care Of The Distance

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…


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. @sir jorge of cul­ver — I haven’t seen to many Spang­lish in Mex­ico… but my Eng­lish wasn’t that good then.

    @Linguist-in-Waiting — Thanks for the link, I had a few good laughs!

    @Bluefish — I just can’t read non-simplified but I see what you mean… In Hong Kong, it was hard for me to deci­pher anything!

    @shionge — I’d love to see some exam­ples! I some­times speak and write Frang­lish as well 😉

    @Annie — I’d love to see that! Most Indi­ans I have met abroad spoke great English.

    @beaverboosh — Bet they should have! 😆

    @Seraphine — But­ter is cute, that should be your new user­name! 😉 In Span­ish, Feng would say “yo quiero nuevo” instead of “huevos” (“I want new” instead of “I want eggs”).

    @Liz — Some­times, I have no clue. Some are just dictionary-translated, like we get the mean­ing but we wouldn’t say that. Or they are direct trans­la­tion of Chi­nese idiomatic expres­sions, like the “mankind our­selves”, it’s the way you would say it in Chinese.

    @Aiglee — It was fun 😉

    @expatraveler — To be fair, most signs are actu­ally pretty well trans­lated. And at least, they are trans­lated… it’s eas­ier for for­eign­ers, even if there is some Chinglish!

    @Keshi — Long time no see, I gotta visit!

    @kevin — Ooops… see, I speak Franese (French/ Chi­nese) some­times too! 😆

    @David Yang — No Ching­lish here, your com­ment was per­fect… and thanks for vis­it­ing! I went to Bei­jing a few times and to be hon­est, I found the city is mak­ing great progress. 说英语的中国人越来越多, 他们的英语也越来越好! 我去北京的上次,上出租汽车,点菜,买东西等等的时候,大部分的人连一个句子也不会说。对不起,我的汉语也不那么好。。。

    @Priyank — Oh for­tune cook­ies.. these are hilarious!

    @nhuong — It is much bet­ter than it used to be. I had to look hard for them 😉

    @Ulquiorra — Ching­lish is always fun!

    @RennyBA — Makes me laugh in every language 😉

    @DianeCA — Good girl, you’re ready to go travel in China! 😆

    @kristin — Yeah… and we get lost too!

    @Shantanu — I need to check out “Ing­lish” now then.

    @kyh — Ah, thanks for the expla­na­tion! I for­got about this “tan/ dan”! I was won­der­ing as well…

    @saraht43 — Thank you!

    @daria369 — Thank you for the praise and also for shar­ing your expe­ri­ence! My French is weird now too, after liv­ing in Canada for so many years… when I speak to my par­ents I some­times trans­late Eng­lish expres­sion in French and it doesn’t mean anything.

    @SilverNeurotic — It’s a fun activ­ity trust me 😉

    @cchiovitti — Nah, only works for Chi­nese people 😉

  2. Pingback: China Carnival #15: Chinglish, High School, Mandarin | - Timeless China Blog

Leave A Reply

Enjoying this blog? Please spread the word :)