Monday, 14 May 2007

Sincere Mattresses and the Appellation Hinterland

The sign said Sincere Mattress Company.

It made me wonder just what a 'sincere mattress' actually is. I have possibly experienced an 'insincere mattress' in the past, one that pretends to provide a good nights sleep and delivers not a jot, but a 'sincere mattress'...never .

The moniker, 'Sincere Mattress' is just one of many titles that appear to the western eye to be an odd juxtaposition of English names.

My all time favourite was a sign I spotted in Malaysia many years ago - Ah Choo's Medical Centre. For non-native speakers of English, the language is enough to give anyone an allergy.

A close second in the 'believe it or not' signage stakes was the Swastika Piles Clinic, also seen in Malaysia.

Here are some others I enjoyed, gleaned from various sources:

  • Teeth extracted by latest methodists - Hong Kong Dentist

  • Mickey Mouse High Fashion Apparel - Beijing department store

  • You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid - Tokyo Hotel

  • Ladies may have a fit upstairs - Hong Kong Tailor

  • For your convenience, we recommend courageous, efficient self-service - Hong Kong supermarket

The mistranslation of English can have a more serious side and in China (more particularly Beijing where the Olympics are being held) they are endeavouring to clean up their signage translation.

Then of course there are signs in Asia, such as the one above that I photographed in the back streets of Calcutta, which do not fill one with confidence.