Good English!

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I’ve always emphasized the importance of using good english, whether it is written or spoken. This is especially true in a region like bustling Asia where so many different languages exist and yet many recognized the importance of English as a “business” language. This is the reason why you still see signs in English in China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia etc… even when these countries officially do not speak the English language. They know that in order to cater to visitors all over the world, the most commonly used language is English.

Similarly, in business letters, emails and presentations, we use English. However, knowing English is not everybody’s mother tongue in Asia, we had better ensure we use good English, to minimize any misinterpretation of our messages.

Recently on a trip to China, I noticed this sign in the men’s toilet right on top of the urinal and it made me smile. Does it make you smile? If it does not, then you probably are not catching the pun!

So, what is so interesting about, “Take One Step Forward, Please Clean After Use”? “Take One Step Forward…” sounds good and reasonable enough. Afterall, aiming isn’t one of the skills men are blessed with, especially when they are looking upwards at the ceiling or the wall in front. But “… Please Clean After Use”? Clean what?

I bet the person who put up this sign is not expecting you to clean the toilet or urinal after use? So what else can you clean after use? At first I thought they meant, “Please Flush after Use” but then as I was about to press the “Flush” button, I realized there were none and the urinals were auto flushing. So what else can you “clean”? You go figure!



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