— 9 March 2007 —

On the Importance of Good Translations — Friday Fun

This is a picture of a “restroom thataway” sign in an airport.

airport restroom sign

The sign shows three different ways of communicating the same message.

First are the (mostly) international pictograms for Restroom, including handicap access and diaper changing stations. Then we move on to the local language, which I am guessing is Japanese, but could be Chinese. And finally we have the third representation in English. And that’s the kicker:

For Restrooms, Go back toward your behind.

My guess is this was a literal translation. Anyone read the local language text on that sign? Thus we have an opportunity to talk about Design Reviews. Whether it’s an email or a web app, get a set of eyes on that design of someone who can speak the language of your intended audience.

How would you change the English translation? Keep in mind you have a character limit. :)

In the end, I suppose even bad translations can offer good advice, or for some, Just-in-Time-Training.

Respond Eloquently Below

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