A Day in My Life: Lost in Translation

When I’m traveling, I like to collect signs that are “lost in translation.” My favorite memory is a sign in a Hong Kong restaurant where my husband used to eat lunch. Curious, my husband asked his colleague what the Chinese writing meant. He said it told people to not bring food from the outside into the restaurant. But what was translated into English was: NO EATING.









Have you come across any “lost in translation” signs in your travels? Share in the comment section below!


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About Suzanne

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes bestselling, award winning fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. Her interest in the Plain People began with her Old Order German Baptist grandfather, raised in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne's app, Amish Wisdom, delivers a daily Amish proverb to your phone or iPad. She writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. She lives with her family in California and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you can't take life too seriously when a puppy is running through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.


  1. Kathleen says:

    Reminded me of my high school French class:
    Defense de cracher = No spitting

    I think we were learning the language of street signs.

    The things that stick in one’s mind forever!

    • Suzanne says:

      My sister, while she was taking high school French, used to tell me to stop talking in French. It’s the only phrase I know. 🙂

  2. Donna Bayar Repsher says:

    Our favorite is a sign we saw on a very “loaded” directional sign in Ireland. It was an arrow, and it read, “The way the fairies went”. It’s a magical place.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Donna! Love the whimsy of that sign! I can imagine that kind of sign…maybe on a rotary, just to add to the confusion. 🙂 Suzanne

  3. Dora Wagner says:

    I visited England in 2012. I saw the “Please mind the gap” signs every time we rode the “tube”. I, also, remember the “Look Left” and “Look Right” signs at the corners for pedestrians to cross the street. Also, our trip coincided with the Paralympic games and some of the streets were closed and buses were on “diversions”.

    It was a great lesson in the “English” language.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Dora–I so agree! How the English language has changed over the centuries, from the UK to the US, is a fascinating study. Rubbish vs. garbage, petrol vs. gas, post vs. mail…so many variations. One of the many aspects to travel that stretches the mind. Thanks for commenting! Suzanne

  4. Amy Bateman says:

    One of my favorite signs was actually found in a department store at our local mall. “For your convenience, an elevator is located in China.” We took the escalator. 😉

  5. Charise says:

    Mine is not near as good as yours, but I saw one at a restaurant patio in Costa Rica that has an image of a very amorous couple. My Spanish was just not coming up with what the sign could mean… It basically said that people were not allowed to be overly affectionate because this was a family place.

    I always think- what did someone do for that sign to be posted. Rarely are signs proactive. SO how affectionate were these people and how often that they had to make a Sign?!

    Fun post!

  6. Sue Link says:

    I loved your signs! I’ve seen them before myself, but the only thing I can thing of at the moment was when we were travelling through Quebec and signs all over the place saying Ouest. Signs in Quebec offer no translation to English. Well, when you’re driving by at 50+mph I kept thinking it was saying “Quest”. Having took French many, many years ago I finally figured out it meant “West”. Luckily we didn’t get lost there. hahaha.

    • Suzanne says:

      Sue–I would have puzzled over Quest for the rest of the trip! Funny to think of how the Q ended up at a W in the romance languages. Thanks for sharing! Suzanne

  7. Sandi says:

    What does no pinching mean? I used to work for Mental Health and there was an oldster who loved to pinch, however, I’m sure that’s not the kind of pinching they are speaking of. I remember many years ago when I flew to meet my husband in Germany. I had traveled many many hours and all around me were folks speaking in a language I didn’t know. Street signs were unreadable to me and then I looked up and saw a billboard which read “Trink Coca Cola.” At last…something I recognized.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Sandi!
      I think it was supposed to mean stealing or pickpocketing. About your “trink Coca Cola” sign–trinken means to drink in German. So you were on your way to quenching your thirst with something familiar! XO Suzanne

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