Engrish… Kind Of

I’m supposed to be doing some work right now so, naturally, I’m surfing teh internets. While looking through an Engrish site (I was desperate, ok?) I found this photo:

The weird thing is, its… not actually Engrish. I have no clue what the Chinese says (or whether it’s Mandarin, Cantonese, or something else entirely… so I’ll just call it Chinese for now. My apologies), but the English, though awkward and somewhat outdated, actually makes sense. The basic idea is “this is an honour system, do what’s right and clean up after yourself”, but it seems like they’re trying to make a joke: if public spaces are where we test virtue, then we’re expecting a high score… aka clean up after yourself.  It’s actually kind of witty, if you ignore the overly British and outdated “invigilators”. So is this a case of someone trying to make a joke in a language they’re uncomfortable with, and making it sound awkward? Can anyone enlighten me on what the Chinese (I know, I know, sorry) says? Is it the same joke? And, for bonus points, if they had said “oversight” or “teachers” instead of “invigilators”, or if they had left out that part of the phrase entirely, would this have seemed less awkward? would it seem less awkward to a British audience?

Okie, that was the thought of the day. Now back to working. Actually working this time. I promise. *checks facebook…*

1 comment
  1. LanternBell said:

    Hmmm… I can read most of the characters (surprise, surprise!) but the problem with these phrases is that (I think) they’re written in the form of 4 character idioms. 4 character idioms don’t really have much of a grammatical structure and are rooted in classical Chinese. You need a profound knowledge of the characters to really understand them right off the bat, which makes them difficult to understand. In any case, if these phrases are 4 character idioms, they should be translated into several sentences or a bit more in the form of poetry. I’ll ask my mum about the meaning and whether or not they’re idioms so my above statements are speculation thus far.

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