We’ve all smirked at Chinglish signs around town of English that was either completely unintelligible or accidentally hilarious, but now the tables are turning! With more and more Chinese-speaking tourists entering the Western world, more and more signs are coming with Chinese translations – and they’re just as babble fished as the stuff here!
For instance, this sign for the entrance of the world-famous Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster in Brooklyn, New York. The English is a classic warning imploring those with back, neck, heart problems or pregnancy to not ride the roller coaster. The Chinese… well, according to the Language Log, a blog by professors at the University of Pennsylvania:
… the Chinese translation is definitely peculiar, so peculiar that almost every phrase includes an outright error or something grossly unidiomatic…
The most egregious problem with the Chinese translation on the sign at Coney Island, one that recurs several times, is the erroneous use of the word qí (“ride [astride, as on a horse]”) for both the noun and verb “ride”; it should not be used for either. In the third instance, the Chinese translation on the sign explicitly says that pregnant women should [not] qímǎ (“ride a horse”)!
For reference, this is what the warning looks like in Chinese:
Which can be translated literally to this:
Warning: The Cyclone Roller Coaster is a high influence to ride. The back and neck’s any person or heart problems should no to ride this to ride. Those who are not pregnant should ride a horse. Holding hands (of a clock) to continue.