more Chinese-to-English translation fail(ure)

James Harbeck jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA
Sat Aug 15 23:51:47 UTC 2009

>The photo at
>part of what seems to be a switch panel mounted on a wall, possibly in
>a hospital. There are two switches, each with an engraved label in English
>and Chinese, and what seem to be cable or hose connections underneath.
>I don't read Chinese and I don't know what the hanzi mean, and I won't try
>to put them in this message. But the English labels are SMALLPOX and NIGHT

tianhuadeng = ceiling light

tian = sky, hua = surface (or flower), deng = light

But tianhua, the exact same characters (so skyflower or whatever),
also means smallpox!

Ceiling is tianhuaban -- the ban (board) is dropped in this compound.

James Harbeck.

The American Dialect Society -

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