英語のヒント vol. V: 日本からの変な英語看板 1

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Jul 24, 2013 09:28 英語のヒント hint 変な英語看板 strange signs
みんなさん、おはよう!

I thought it would be a great idea to start a series about strange English signs in Japan. I want to make this clear, though: I am in no way making fun of Japanese English or be condescending (I am an English teacher, after all); I instead want to explain why certain English is strange or incorrect.

I would estimate that around 90% of English signs in Japan are either wrong or contain strange English. 90%! I often wonder why they don't ask native English speakers to check their signs. They obviously don't know about Lang-8! But it's so rare for me to see an absolutely correct English sign in Japan that when I do see it, it's noteworthy (注目に値する). I think "wow, there's no problems with this sign!"

The sign I want to talk about today is from the bathroom of Joyfull. Do you know Joyfull? It's a kind of ファミレス much like ガスト.

If the image here is too small, you can see a bigger size here: http://i.imgur.com/UfNKJls.jpg

The sign reads:

"NO SMOKING in Toilet, please."

Here are the problems with this sign:

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1. Capitalization (大文字)

The rules for signs are less strict in English than for English sentences. This is because signs are usually meant for impact so they don't have to follow every English rule. So, the all-capital "NO SMOKING" is not necessarily wrong here since they want to have an impact. However, it is strange that "Toilet" is capitalized and then "please" is not. It's not a problem that "in" is not capitalized because it is a 2-letter word and these are usually left in lower-case (小文字) in titles, signs, etc.

So, basically, the problem here is that the capitalization is inconsistent (一貫性のない).

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2. "Toilet"の意味英語で = 便器か水洗便所 (部屋じゃなくて物です)

In North American English, "toilet" refers to the actual device/thing and NOT the room where the toilet is in. I think in England it is different, but when you say "I need to use the toilet" to many English speakers, it means something like like "便器要るよ." It's a very vulgar (低俗) English sentence. If someone said this in English you might think of them using the toilet and get a bit disgusted (気持ち悪い).

Instead, we would use the word 'restroom,' 'washroom,' or 'bathroom' (in many English-speaking countries the bath and the toilet are in the same room, so 'bathroom' is frequently used even if there is no bath in the toilet room, like at a restaurant).

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3. "in Toilet"

OK, so if toilet means 'washroom' here then 'in washroom' is completely fine and correct. But the bonus funny party about this sign is that since 'toilet' means '便器,' the meaning of this sign is "便器の中で喫煙しないで下さい!" 面白いね ^^

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CORRECT ENGLISH VERSIONS:

"Don't smoke in (the) restroom, please."
"No smoking in washroom, please."
"Smoking not permitted in washroom."
etc.

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