Speaking in Tongues

One of the great things about travelling all over the world is that I've been able to pick up bits and pieces of different languages — often just enough to get myself into trouble, but not enough to dig myself out.

What's really entertaining at times, is when people make an attempt to communicate in another language without sufficient mastery of the language in question and/ or without the help of someone who's fluent.

I remember being stuck in a very cold hotel (more like a hostel) in the dead of winter in northern China, for instance, and asking desperately (in horribly contorted Chinese) if there was a hot shower. I got a lot of enthusiastic nods, with gestures to "wait a second". Sure enough, a few minutes later, one of the hotel staff brought me a cup of piping hot water. Not quite what I had in mind, but good for a few laughs.

While in [tag]Japan[/tag] recently, I spotted a couple of signs that are just too good to keep to myself, so I pulled out my trusty digital camera and took some snaps.

Opening HoursThe first sign isn't so much a problem with language as it is with numbers. I can't imagine telling someone "I'll meet you at 26:00 hours", but apparently, this makes perfect sense in Japanese bar-speak. Go figure.

The second sign is from a train operated by the Metropolitan Government of [tag]Tokyo[/tag]. The sign on the train carried the official city seal, so I assume it was vetted and approved by the appropriate city officials. See if you can make any sense of it:Train Anti-bodies
Hmmm...what exactly do anti-bodies have to do with train rides? You get the feeling that whoever did this official translation stuck the Japanese text into an online translation site on the net, and copied whatever came out. I can see some low-level city employee doing that, but who the heck was in charge?

With all the native English speakers roaming the streets of Tokyo, you'd have thought they could've pulled some random person over and asked, "Hey, does this make the slightest bit of sense?" But I guess if they had done that, I wouldn't have had fun on my otherwise drab train commute.

If you read the Japanese, it makes perfect sense. It says, "The route map for the surrounding area is posted on the opposite side of the train." Oh, why didn't you just say so?