Out of Character

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3583730405_c2e3f558ce.jpg My friend and remote colleague JAT in Guangzhou posted the above sign on his blog, taken when he had accompanied a friend to the arcade. There, they had watched a 4D movie about dinosaurs; the extra D meaning that the seats in the theatre moved while prehistoric reptiles and insects squirted water in their faces and crawled up the backs of their legs. At the entrance of the theatre, though, JAT noticed this silly, but egregious translation error: 4 Uygur theater admission matters needing attention.

JAT poses the following translation puzzle: why does this sign mention the Uyghurs? As it stands, the poster could suggest that moviegoers must respect these four tenets of Uyghur culture. Or, it also could demand that only Uyghurs should adhere to these rules while inside the theatre. Furthermore, by juxtaposing the pig cartoon with the word "Uyghur," the theatre commits a minor visual faux pas against Islam. Clearly, a lot of thought went into the creation of this poster.

*Warning: Puzzle Explanation Ahead* In Chinese, the word "Uyghur" is transliterated as 维吾尔 (weiwuer), and sometimes is shortened to 维 as in 维族 (Uyghur people, weizu) or 维语 (Uyghur language, weiyu). However, 维 actually means "dimension", as in 4D movie theatre or 4维电影院, hence the mistranslation, "4 Uyghur theatre." Interestingly, I asked some of my local friends about this, who said that even they use the English word "3D" (or 4D in this case) in Mandarin. The fact that there actually were four rules listed below that heading was merely coincidence. (Read a more complete explanation here.)

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This is hilarious!