Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Why No Poke?

A few blog articles back and in my new book, "MY THAI GIRL AND I", I printed a picture of a nicely painted sign reading 'Danger! No Poke' under its Thai translation . I was writing about the joys and pleasures of collecting examples of signs and things with comic mistakes in English but saying that it's not fair for me to poke fun at them as my Thai isn't that good either.

A number of people have since asked me the context of this sign and the photos that appear above make it clearer. At the top of a vertical cliff looking across the Maekong River to Laos, it is to be found in the Pha Taem National Park in Ubon province.

Another time I've seen this stretch of the river almost dry, with everyone complaining that it was as low as it had ever been. Now with massive rainfall in the upper reaches of the river, it has never been higher and flooding has been serious.

Getting back to the 'no poke' sign, I guess it means no pushing or something like that. The general thrust is obvious.

But can anyone give me a more accurate translation of the Thai version?


John said...

My translation would be "Danger/Don't get close"

rikker said...

Right. The "poke" bit is someone's innovative use of English, but it's not a translation of the Thai. As John said, อย่าเข้าใกล้ is along the lines of "Danger! Don't come near..."

I was at Pha Taem a few years back, and remember this cliff well. I think my lucky stars I didn't poke!

Thai Girl said...

Thanks for your thoughts. I only wish I could read the Thai.

I think this could be an example of the peril of relying on dictionaries, though I'm nor sure how they found 'poke'.

I remember a student from UAE writing me a paper in which he referred to a three month 'elegance period'.

He's used an Arabic/English dictionary. What he wanted was 'grace period'!