Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chinatown: Fado Irish Pub

Is is possible to offend two different cultural groups at once? Fado Irish Pub & Restaurant features a stereotypical Celtic font as well as a Chinese inscription 愛爾蘭酒館 ("Ireland Pub/Tavern"). There's also an attempt to replicate these Chinese words in a more archaic "seal script" going down the column. I can't quite figure this out - some of the characters are disassembled and at least one is backwards (flipped horizontally).


  1. Heh, quite poor translation into the Chinese. Probably on account of haste - is it a city requirement to have all signs in Chinatown display Chinese names, or just a decision on the part of the owners? If it's the former, accuracy of translation is probably not high on their list of priorities...

  2. Ever since I saw the atrocious quality of many of the signs I've been meaning to look this up - as far as I can tell there was actually a mandate that all signs in Chinatown be bilingual. I get the sense that many business owners (and potential visitors/consumers) have no real investment in the language per se and are thus allowing sign-makers to do a sloppy job.

    For what it's worth, there's actually an academic article offering a "geosemiotic analysis of shop signs" in DC Chinatown that reads the bilingual mandate and its effects through (post-)structuralist theory.

    I haven't read it yet, but the abstract is here: