‘Be Careful on the Escalator’ has been translated to ‘Keep Your Legs, No Running’
Reference: v.6 they said, “All right, say ‘Shibboleth.’ ” If he said, “Sibboleth,” because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed at that time. (TNIV Bible)
Explore: Chinglish is when the English language is written or spoken by someone heavily influenced by the Chinese language. For someone who only speaks English, it is great to have instructions, signs and manuals that have been made overseas translated into English. However, there are times when the meaning gets lost in translation. Here are a few I have found: ‘Public Water Tap’ has been translated to ‘Take Water Place’; ‘Be Careful on the Escalator’ has been translated to ‘Keep Your Legs, No Running’; and ‘Look Out For Slippery Surface’ has been translated to ‘Slip and Fall Down Carefully’. It is clear to see that English is not the first language of the people writing these signs.
Application: People’s language and accents are clear indicators of where they come from. My mother, who is from the Britain, can even tell which area of Britain someone comes from just by their specific accent. When Jephthah was protecting his people he was able to tell who his enemies were just by asking them to say one word. He could tell from their pronunciation whether they were friend or foe. Sometimes I wish it was that easy. Imagine if you could tell if someone was good for you just by hearing them pronounce one word! It’s not often that easy, but language can be very telling. By the words that come out of a person’s mouth we are able to grasp what their priorities are and how they view the world. We must be attentive and aware of what kind of perception we are portraying by what we say too.
Prayer: Lord, our tongues can add encouragement, but also reveal our biases and insecurities. May we fill our lives with your words so that they spill out of our lives, no matter what language we speak. Amen.
What attitude would people interpret you to have?
This article was written by Linda Bailey
Linda started theological studies in 1999 in Australia. After working for ten years in various church ministries, she now works as the breakfast producer at 89.9 LightFM - the Christian radio station in Melbourne, Australia. She writes blogs every day about passages she is currently reading in the Bible. Follow her on Google Plus +Linda Bailey or Facebook by clicking the like button on the right of this page.