Give your children a shock! HK government's bizarre advice to parents in Victoria Park

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 June, 2014, 9:05pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 June, 2014, 4:03pm

When in the park with your children, have you ever thought about creeping up behind them as they happily play with friends and giving them the fright of their lives?

That's what Hong Kong's government is advocating if new signs spotted in Victoria Park are anything to go by - thanks to sloppy English translations that inform parents in English "Do not leave your children unsurprised".

The new signs, installed on May 30, contain several English mistakes - with the mis-translation for not leaving children "unsupervised" topping the list.

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Other errors are more slight, but will no doubt be seen by many as a slipping of standards, not least in the Leisure and Cultural Services Department which produced the signs.

Visitors to the park are advised that there should be "no padding" - yet paddling is surely okay - and hawkers are told "prosecution will be taken", although where it will be taken remains unclear.

Non-Chinese residents who frequent the park said they indeed were "unsupervised" by the mistake, as the city's English-language signs often contain errors.

"It's not uncommon, though I don't see it every day - maybe once a month," said a local-born Australian who gave his surname only, Gibson.

"Usually the words will be a bit strange and don't sound right to native speakers," he added.

Kuce To, a student from nearby Queen's College, asked how the government could fail to notice such obvious mistakes.

"Hong Kong claims to be an international city after all, and English is one of our official languages," he said. "Such careless mistakes should be easy to avoid."

But the carelessness would not be too detrimental to the city, he added, as "few people pay attention to the warning signs anyway".

Lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said although the mistake on the sign might seem harmless, it reflected how English was perceived in the city post-handover.

A Leisure and Cultural Services Department spokeswoman said on Monday it had been notified by a member of the public on June 5 about an error on the signage, which she said was a result of "the [LCSD] staff... having failed to have spotted the typing error during proof-reading".

When the Post visited the park the offending "unsurprised" word had been covered with a piece of paper reading "unsupervised".

Two signs sporting the error are due to be replaced by new ones early next week, the spokeswoman added.