more Chinese-to-English translation fail(ure)

Randy Alexander strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM
Sun Aug 16 05:09:39 UTC 2009

On Sun, Aug 16, 2009 at 7:51 AM, James Harbeck<jharbeck at> wrote:
>>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 think those are dimmer switches.  These kinds of control panels are
very common in hotels in China.  Built into the nightstand between the

>>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.

Randy Alexander
Jilin City, China
My Manchu studies blog:

The American Dialect Society -

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