In preparation for the 2008 Olympics, China has made efforts to eradicate the often-confusing, sometimes-embarrassing Engrish translations that appear on signs in public. An example below:

I always get a kick out of signs that do not communicate their intended message. For example, you can find the sign on the left in each boat on the Small World ride at Disneyland. The text (which is not pictured) tells riders that, for their own safety on this particular ride, they should not stand. However, whenever I see this sign, I imagine it saying: “No Breakdancing.” As an aside, the characters in the prohibited photo look to me suspiciously like Mr. Bean dancing. If they don’t want people standing during the ride, maybe they shouldn’t make it look like so much fun!

In any case, I bring up this idea of clear communication because I recently registered with Technorati (which I still don’t really understand). I was a bit dismayed to find that someone had responded to one my recent posts about worship, music and lyrics with the criticism that I had over-intellectualized the subject. It’s not so much the criticism itself that affected me (although I get the distinct feeling that this blogger misunderstood what I was trying to say) but the idea that I might not be clearly communicating what I intend to say. Or, worse, that I might come off as pretentious. As someone who preaches to youth who will let me know what they think of my sermons (e.g., smiles, frowns, nodding approval or nodding off) every week, I wouldn’t think of myself as communicating in a pretentious or confusing manner.

I saw this sign in a shop in K-town in Los Angeles:

Although I can sound out the Korean words phonetically, my comprehension is minimal at best. I puzzled over the English sign for awhile. So, does this product give a person all of these horrible diseases and, if so, who in their right mind would pay $10 for each of them? What else should we expect from them?

To my relief, my wife translated the sign for me and assured me that, in Korean, the sign shows the unique ways in which this product will help a person. I hope my words do not create the reader’s version of athlete’s foot but would, in some small way, be a help instead.

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