A friend in Paris sent me this story. True I guess. Any other misreading stories that you have heard about. In any lanugage…
This one’s for Taiwan:
Occasionally, Chinese characters in compound words can be transposed., and in Japan this happens sometimes. Both
‘‘wahei,’’ for example,
both mean “peace.”
But there are other cases where reversing the order
give a very different meaning, and on occasion this can lead to comical
In Taiwan, a couple of years ago, a couple of Chinese ladies,
the story goes, were walking down the street one day in Taipei and spotted a sign written
horizontally that they thought read
A word of explanation here. When Chinese is written vertically, no
question arises about the order in which it is read. But this rule does
not apply to characters written horizontally, which might be written
either right to left, or left to right.
“Let’s go upstairs and take look at the handbags,” one suggested, and
up they went. Upon opening the door, however, they were mystified to
see no handbags, but a woman dressed in white behind a counter who
appeared to be a nurse.
“Can I help you?” the woman asked.
“Yes, we’ve come to look at your handbags,” she replied.
“Handbags? What are you talking about? This isn’t a store!”
“Well what is it then?”
To their horror, they were informed it was a clinic for treatment of
sexually transmitted diseases. As one of his other services, the doctor
performed circumcisions, and indicated so in a small horizontal
signboard over the street. The ladies had misread the characters
wrapping skin but meaning foreskin of an uncircumcised penis) as
The ladies apologized and beat a hasty retreat.