Realia: National Museum of Scotland

Saturday, 31st December, 2011

[updated with vocab.]

Visiting museums and galleries we often pick out the guide leaflet in a few languages, and compare translations. Most recently we were at the National Museum of Scotland and I picked out the Chinese and Russian versions (as well as the English).

Some highlights:

  • The English version was entitled “Map”, and the Chinese version had a similar general term “地图” (dì tú, map). The Russian was entitled “схема”. The usual Russian word for map is “карта”. A Google image search can illustrate the difference in meaning:

    “Карта” is used for geographical maps, “схема” is used for diagrams and plans.

  • Chinese has no word for “Scotland” — or rather, the Chinese word for “Scotland” is onomatopoeic: “苏格兰” (sūgélán). Note “land” becomes “兰” (lán, orchid), rather than for example 国 (guó, country/nation).
  • The emotive language in the English is generally avoided in the other languages — e.g., “a selection of treasues” becomes “избранные экспонаты” (selected exhibits) — but occasionally the translators find a fitting idiom — e.g., “getting the most out of your visit” becomes “让您的参观满载而归” (ràng nín de cān guān mǎn zài ér guī). The first five characters translate as something like “let your visit be”; the final four characters is an idiom meaning (pseudo)literally “full to the brim and go back”.


Схема diagram, chart, plan
приветствовать to greet, welcome (cf. привет, “Hi!”)
избранный selected, select (cf. собранный, collected)
полезный useful
учёба study(ing), training


世界 (shì jiè) world
主 (zhǔ) owner, master; main, primary; manage, direct; indicate, signify
信息 (xìn xī) information, news, message
免费 (miǎn fèi) free of charge
全 (quán) complete, whole
卫生间 (wèi shēng jiān) toilet (room)
厅 (tīng) hall (for holding meetings, concerts, receiving guests, etc.)
参观 (cān guān) visit, have a look around
同一 (tóng yī) same, identical
地图 (dì tú) map
小时 (xiǎo shí) hour
手势语 (shǒu shì yǔ) sign language
技术 (jì shù) technology, skill, technique
文化 (wén huà) civilization, culture
时间 (shí jiān) (the concept of) time
楼层 (lóu céng) storey, floor
欢迎 (huān yíng) welcome, greet
活动 (huó dòng) exercise, activity
满载而归 (mǎn zài ér guī) come back with fruitful results, return from a rewarding journey
科学 (kē xué) science, scientific knowledge
窗 (chuāng) window
自然 (zì rán) natural world, nature
艺术 (yì shù) art
让 (ràng) give way, give ground, yield, allow
设计 (shè jì) design, plan
购物 (gòu wù) shopping
足够 (zú gòu) enough
食品 (shí pǐn) food, provisions
饮料 (yǐn liào) beverage, drink (esp. a soft drink)

(Chinese definitions: Pleco)


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