Chinglish: How Literal Translations Make You Fall Carefully and Go Into Deformed Man Toilets

You know you’ve seen them before.  You can spot these walking by a park or on the way home from a restaurant in China. What are they?

Those Chinglish signs!

They make you stop, do a double take, and squint your eyes to make sure you’ve read the sign right. You furrow your eyebrows a bit realizing that you did read it right the first time, and then begin to laugh a little.

Chinglish is that funny mixture of Chinese and English. It is usually a literal or direct translation from Chinese into English that doesn’t make much sense. Most of the time it also sounds grammatically incorrect.

Below are a few snippets of some of my favorite ones I’ve found either in China, on the internet or other random spots!! Some are a bit funny, others make you say, “wow! really?” Either way I hope you enjoy it.







This made me do the double take and say “Wait, what?!” It would be unfortunate for anyone that actually follows the English directions.

“小心” means careful, though literally it means “little heart.” “滑” is slippery and “倒” is to fall down. Do you see how they got their translation now and how it’s rather literal?

Here’s what I think would have been a better translation:


“xiǎo xīn huá dǎo”

“Caution: slippery”

Of course there are variations: “Be careful, slippery” or “Caution: slippery don’t fall.” Basically, the message was to get you to NOT fall; ironic how they’re telling you to actually fall, and fall with grace at that!

Make sure next time, you fall down “carefully” haha!









This next one make me think, “Yikes! I hope someone changes that translation.”

“残疾” literally means deformed, disabled of handicapped while “人” is people, in this case man. “厕所” means restroom and here they did another literal translation. However, it would have been alright if they chose a different adjective to describe what kind of bathroom it was.

Here would have been a better translation:


“cán jí rén cè suǒ”

“handicapped toilets”

There could be other variations like “Handicapped restrooms” too. Handicapped would be a better word than “deformed.” Hopefully no one reading this sign got offended. It’s just a major case of a situation that might be a little awkward I guess.

Any other great examples of Chinglish you’ve seen around? Feel free to comment below & share!


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