Category Archives: Public Amenities

No Push, No Pull, Yes Chinglish…!?

OK, then get me out of here! I’m stuck… in a place where I can neither pull nor push a — freakin’ door!

This bit of classical Chinglish finds itself on a folding door. It’s unique in that it can’t be “operated” like a regular door. You’ve got to pull a little handle or “fold” the thing.

Worst still is where they decided to stick the thing. In the toilets. Just when your butt’s about to explode, you have to get through these first. The result is a huge stink and the stuff that I can’t blog here about — on the floor.

I’d favour the ones on the train where you push a button to open the door, then push another one to close it and then let go of your lobster that your stomach had a kernel panic on…

Taken May 2011 in Beijing

Caution of the Stair… You’d Better Be Careful…

Aaarghh!! Those treacherous stairs… They’ll attack you whenever they feel like it!

Either that, or probably you might want to be careful of those stairs. You know — probably you might want to think twice before you do the Macarena on them… especially if they’re not that wide and are steep…

The funny thing is in the Chinese characters. They’re using traditional script on the mainland, which I greatly adore (and so does my dad-in-law). It’s too bad we see too many things in Shanzhai simplified script…

(PS: based on more fact finding, it appears this sign is from Hong Kong. Hmmm…)

What It Should Read: MIND YOUR STEP
Taken 15 July 2005 in Beijing Hong Kong

One Step Left to Perfect Chinglish

Ow. You’ve got to watch your step. You are either One Step Left from either stepping on the lawn — or hitting perfect Chinglish while doing so.

Somehow, though, this concoction is a duo — it is both Chinglish and language humour. It’s a load of fun, though, and it strikes a better chord at keeping people off the lawn by reminding us that there’s “One Step Left”. Only…!

But if we were to rid it of its language humour and potential Chinglish, a rather “bland” replacement — “Please Keep Off the Lawn” — might also work. But oh well… that’d make the sign lose its “individuality”…!

What It Should Read: Please Keep Off the Lawn
Taken 24 August 2011 in northern urban Beijing

Toilet Chinglish: The LORD is watching over you…

For us gents, we can choose between doing “Number 1” in the Men’s Room or (for absolute emergencies) letting a massive explosion rip in the “Number 2” rooms. More often than not, it’s a simple case of a “Number 1”.

Heaven help, then, the LORD that’s watching over us — do our thing (be that a mere two-seconder or what happens after you go after litres upon litres of ice tea). That’s right. While at some odd toilet urinal, your Chinglish watcher spotted over a urinal (auto sensor) that simply called itself — the —

Yes. Pray that you will be fine… the LORD is here to solve your problems that — probably isn’t quite fit for this blog (yet).

I admit: this company calls TOTO owns much of Beijing’s urinals. Probably the LORD is a little bit upset at this monopoly and wants in on the bit of — stinky money as well…

New Expressway in Hebei Opens, Chinglish Included

For those of us based in Beijing, getting south of the capital — quickly — used to be something that was easier said than done. There were no express railways or expressways, so when National Expressway G45 opened in Hebei, this was big news. Southern China was just a freeway away.

Sadly, along with the new expressway came the worst Chinglish. You would have imagined that these guys knew how to spell the word TOILET.

Think again. TLILET.

Try pronouncing that one.


What It Should Read: TOILET
Taken 2 January 2011 at Niutuo Service Area, G45 Expressway, Hebei

(PS: I was a bit surprised that they got the MEN / WOMEN bit right — but that they got TOILET wrong…!)

Don’t say “f**k” or “sh*t”

The Chinglish I’ve posted on To Take Notice of are all “civilized Chinglish”. Out on the Web, however, you can find mangled Chinglish which even have the dreaded F-word and S-word in them, like F**k the certain price of goods or Electrical toilet, please do not s**t.

Apparently, Chinglish, too, is an obnoxious “language” so-called.

How Not to “F**k”

The dreaded F-word in Chinese is (WARNING: Coarse language!) 肏, but is often remixed as 操, especially in North China. This has the intercourse-ish meaning and is also used when you’re in a Vesuvian temper. However, the Chinese also use the characters 日 and, in particular, 干.

The trouble with all this, of course, is the character 干. Far from just being a swear-ish-character, this also means “dry”, especially in simplified Chinese. (In traditional Chinese — this gets better — you want to avoid 幹, which is the curseword, and 乾, which means “dry”.) Some foods just aren’t all that wet, so to speak, so we have “dry foods”, which is 干食. Unfortunately, this easily translates into “F**k Foods”.

But why pick f**k” for the character 干? Some writers of Chinglish want their signs to have more character, or appear more humanized (“keep out”, as opposed to “inhibition astraddle transgress”, so to speak). So they turn to imported “slang US English dictionaries” (and there are plenty of them) and their ilk. Unfortunately, they take the off-colour words (like “f**k” for 干) as “standard” and write them out for the world to see — in Chinglish.

Fortunately, I have yet to see a single Chinglish sign with my very own eyes bearing the F-word on them…

How Not to “Sh*t”

Some of us never left a farm, and as a result, appear a bit less “civilized” than others. Others just don’t give all that much and forget to dump their bad habits. I’ve seen about a couple dozen gents in Audis who decided to “water the grass” on the freeway (they must have been like me, guzzling way too much mineral water). Some of us, too, can’t hold it when nature makes a call, and dump it just about anywhere.

The problem is more pointed in China, where, unfortunately, we have the odd guy letting it out outside of the public conveniences. As a result, there is more than one park that has apparently had enough and, as a result, posted a signpost telling people “禁止大便” (don’t drop your droppings here). Unfortunately, that sign sometimes gets translated, word-by-word (sans the politesse filter) to “No Sh*tting”. (Its minor sibling, “禁止小便” or “禁止便溺”, is sometimes referred to as “No Urinating” instead of “No P*ssing”).

Probably the best thing to do is just to dump these signs, especially in big cities where there are a lot of expats. Most of us know that to dump it all out in the dead centre of a park is not a good idea.