Lost in Translation of Tourist Signs

It is a simple truth that if you want to learn a language you should try to spend at least some time in the country where this language is spoken. And if you already know the language, being a tourist in that country may be full of wonderfully exiting discoveries, especially if you take the time to read some the bilingual tourist signs.

During these last couple of days I’ve had the opportunity to observe how some of these signs have been translated from Russian into English, which may be of interest even to those readers who don’t speak Russian.

A good example is this ‘Roller Coaster Pavillion’ :


Another example is the fact that the ‘otter premises’ are, most unfortunately, closed for restoration :

_20150802_083035For more examples of how easy it is for tourist attractions to get lost in translation, take a look at what happened in Sochi : http://www.cetra.com/blog/5-times-sochi-got-lost-in-translation/

On a different note, I have always found it interesting how the psychological aspect has always found its way into the translation of such signs :


It would seem that while the English version tends to be more along the lines of advice, or that of a polite request, the best way to get the message across to the Russian public is by way of prohibition, the direct translation being, ‘Keep of the grass’.

If you have examples of your own to share, please comment or forward them via e-mail.

3 thoughts on “Lost in Translation of Tourist Signs”

  1. I think that the ‘roller coaster pavilion’ should have been translated as the sledging hill (BR) or the more often used sledding hill (AM), although neither of these sound as poetic as Katalnaya Gorka.


    1. Roller coaster pavilion is clearly the furthest thing from the truth imaginable… However, I do wonder whether simply keeping the original name in transliteration would not have been a better option altogether. It’s poetic, as you say, it’s true to the original, and let’s not forget that it’s a tourist sign – sooner or later the readers will find out for themselves what the pavilion looks like.

      But then, of course, it will become yet another sign. Nothing special, nor memorable to it.


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