Mauritian musings

I recently took a trip to Mauritius, a place I know fairly well as it’s Reunion’s neighbouring island, but where I hadn’t been back to since 2001.

Mauritius doesn’t have official languages, although English is the ‘unofficial’ official language, used for business and government, and French is used more in culture and education. However inhabitants’ native language is Mauritian Creole, which although still French-based, is sufficiently different from Reunion Creole for me to have trouble understanding it (although of course I’m not a native speaker of Reunion Creole; mother-tongue speakers of the latter have less trouble understanding Mauritian Creole than I do).

Mauritius has its own Google, available in Mauritian Creole.

Generally speaking Mauritians will spontaneously address a foreigner in French, but switch easily to English if that foreigner is non-French speaking. However the Mauritian bilingualism can sometimes lead to confusion, such as on the following sign which mixes the English “sale” with the French “chemise”, with amusing consequences if you understand both languages.

Another sign also made me smile, as the writer had obviously forgotten the English word ‘butt’ for a cigarette end while writing it!

Just the tonic!

I was recently in India and couldn’t help but smile when I saw the following on a drinks menu in Delhi:

Name your poison – toxic or tonic?

I know India has a reputation for bad drinking water, but “toxic” is taking it a bit far! As for “Beverage’s” I found plurals written this way all over the country. (By the way this photo was featured in The Telegraph’s ‘Sign Language’ photo gallery)

Also while in India I saw the following slogan for the state of Rajasthan. While technically not a mistake, I felt sure the double meaning was not intentional:

Living and travelling abroad I’ve had the occasion to spot other mistakes. The sign below was in an airplane lavatory on an Air Koryo flight from Pyongyang to Beijing (it also featured in The Telegraph’s ‘Sign Language’ photo gallery).

Hips don’t fly

As I lived in South Korea for three years I had plenty of chances to see mistakes in English language signs. It’s not easy when English is not your native language, and the Roman alphabet is not yours (Korea uses the hangeul alphabet).

fish from hell?

future alcoholic dogs? (p and b are the same in Korean so they’re often mistaken for each other when written English)

I used the following product but I’ve still got my eyes and lips…

does “sensitive” mean it removes them carefully?

Do you have any photos you’d like to share?

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