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  • Yelena McCafferty

Public signs, language and fun

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

Public signs in countries around the world can tell a fascinating story of their own, and a lot of funny blogs have been written to highlight bad translations in particular. One such sign below is a very bright example of when translations don’t just look funny, they are, in fact, unprofessional.

Badly translated sign in Moscow

A road sign in Vladivostok

On my very short trip to Russia this month I came across a rather amusing sign in one of Moscow’s restaurants. It drew its visitors’ attention to foul language, giving a definition of what it is, how people could be potentially prosecuted for its use under Russian legislation, and asked customers to refrain from using swear words in this friendly restaurant.

Ukrainian restaurant notice about language.

Notice in a Moscow restaurant

In one of my blogs last year where I shared my observations of the modern Russian language from my previous trip to Russia, I pointed out how punctuation rules were being disregarded more and more. Sadly this month I discovered more instances of what would previously be unacceptable and a sure sign of reduced literacy. For instance, where is the comma in this sign, great it might be in promoting reading and studying:

A good lesson about books, but where is the comma?

On the importance of reading books

Or another notice written on the back of the seats of a well-known air carrier:

Aeroflot forgot to put a comma in this instruction.

A missing comma

Russian is a very colourful language with quite a few homographs (words which have the same spelling but a different meaning, often with the word stress making the difference), here is one sign which can be easily misread, especially by learners of Russian:

Word stress changes meanings of entire words.


Language is fun! :)

[Tip: Use our professional Russian translation service, tel.: 0207 043 6940, email:]


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