Conservation Characterplay

06 Jul 2017

This is a sign from the streets of Shanghai:

Untitled

The original character is , which has several meanings, but here is “save” in the sense of “be economical” and “not waste.” Note that in the unmodified original character, the bottom part is 目 and not 口. Wenlin explains 省 like this:

From 少 (shǎo) ‘little’ over 目 (mù) ‘eye’. To 目 watch carefully, to use 少 little, economize.

The drips under the first two in the image are actually characters, which read:

建设节约型社会
Build an economizing society

(I apologize for the poor translation; nothing is coming to mind for a better way to render this in English at the moment!)

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. I think your translation is fine but I want to see a bit more context as to where you spotted this sign. Is this a sign to admonish people to not waste food in a restaurant, antilittering, probicycling?

  2. 少口 could be interpreted as eat less?

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