Friday, January 4, 2008
Strange English Sign at Palomar Observatory
As some of you may know, I've had other postings dedicated to funny English signs, usually photographed in non-English speaking countries. However, recently I discovered that there is some funny English being displayed right here in Southern California. I couldn't resist taking these photos of a sign at the foot of the entrance to the Hale Observatory on Palomar Mountain outside San Diego. It says, "Do not pick the fern." I don't know who did the translations of the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, but I wonder how good those are. Did the translator make a typographic error, dropping the 's' making 'the fern' singular? Is it okay to pick the other plants? As it reads now, the viewer is left wondering which fern the sign is referring to, and why this directive was translated into Chinese, Japanese and Korean only. There were lots of Spanish speakers at the observatory when I was there. Do the rest of the non-English speaking tourists know what a 'fern' is in English? Are Asians more prone to picking ferns than other tourists outside the observatory? So far, it's a mystery to me. There seems to be a subtext here, but I don't have the full context to figure it out. Can you?