"Drop Your Trousers, Leave Your Values and Try Loose Duck"

Exhibit Shows Many Ways, In Most Public of Places, To Skin the King's English

By Charles Goldsmith

(Brussells)-Sometimes it all does get lost in the translation. Especially at hotels that try to make their English-speaking guests feel right at home.

"Please leave your values at the front desk," says the sign at a Paris hotel which seems to feel guest's morals would be safer in storage.

A Japenese hotel is not so fussy. "You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid" it informs it's visitors while a Zurich hotel is positively prudish, "Because of the impropiety of entertaining guests of the opposite sex in the bedroom, it is suggested that the lobby be used for this purpose."

These twisted signs and more are featured in an exhibit: "Mind your Language: A Hotel Room too Far," organized by the European Community's translation service to mark Britain's current presidency of the EC . The examples are collected from public notices, documents and books and are on exhibit ......

Hungry? How about some "roasted duck let loose" from a Polish menu, accompanied by "beef rashers beaten up in the country people's fashion." And why not wash it down with a carafe from the Swiss eatery that proclaims, "our wines leave you nothing to hope for." But by all means avoid the Acupulco hotel that brings a new meaning to quality controls: "The manager has personally passed the water."

Childcare benifits may be excellent in Norway, but there are limits: "Ladies are requested not to have children at the bar," advises a Norwegian cocktail lounge.

And watch out for wierdness around a Moscow gravesite: "You are welcome to visit the cementary," reads a sign in the hotel across the street, "where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists and writers are buried daily except Thursday." Certain days can be tough in Bucharest: "The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable."


The manager of an Austrian ski hotel shows that a strong vocabulary is no assurance of success: guests are urged "not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in their boots of ascension." With better word choice, however, morning might be more peaceful for an Athens hotelier, who advises: "Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 am and 11 am daily."

And just look what is happening at the zoo. "Please do not feed the animals, if you have any suitable food give it to the guard on duty," says a sign in Budapest. At a Hong Kong dentist, teeth are "extracted by the latest Methodists," while an airline office in Copenhagen "will take your bags and send them in all directions."

Clothing expressions can also make a terrible fit. A Swedish furrier boasts: "Fur coats made for ladies from their own skin, " while a Paris dress shop solicits business by advertising "dresses for street walking." A Tokyo shop says its nylon stockings may cost a bit more, but are "best in the long run," and a Rhodes tailor urges customers to order their summer suits early, "because in big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation."

But who needs clothing? "Drop your trousers here for the best results," suggests a Bangkok dry cleaner, while a laundry in Rome says: " Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time." And nearby is a Roman doctor with manifold talents: Specialist in women and other diseases."



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