請勿踐踏草地

Friday, 26th August, 2011

Some time ago there was a post on Sinoglot about Chinese script on signs, noting how compact it could be. I recently saw a good example of this by one of the lawns in one of the Cambridge colleges:

The Chinese is in Traditional script. Here it is in Traditional, Simplified, and pinyin (assuming a Mandarin-speaking reader):

trad: 請勿踐踏草地

simp: 请勿践踏草地

py: qǐng wù jiàn tà cǎo dì

A literal translation might be, “request not trample lawn”.

I found a few variations of this request on the web: some without 请 (qǐng, request); some using 踩 (cǎi) or just 踏 (tà) instead of 践踏 (jiàn tà). I like 践 (jiàn): it means trample or tread, but it also means to fulfill or act on or carry out — 践约 (jiàn yuē) means to keep a promise or an appointment — so 践踏 (jiàn tà) carries an extra dimension of purpose.

Of all the variations I found, this one from the University of Cambridge was by far the most polite and considered.

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