Individuals who are writing official government texts may want to invest in translation software tools, which can perform a spelling and grammar check before an embarrassing typo is printed. Unfortunately, officials from the Forbidden City in Beijing opted not to use this trusty device.
Recently, officials hung two banners in an attempt to congratulate police officers who caught a wanted suspect earlier this month, The New York Times reports. The slogan on one of these banners said, "To shake the great strength and prosperity of the motherland, and to safeguard the stability of the capital." This may seem harmless, but to many Chinese individuals it was not.
The banner spread quickly over the internet, as many people interpreted it as a plan to overthrow the Chinese Community Party. However, the problem with the text was a small Mandarin typo that caused a big headache for officials.
In the Mandarin language, the word for "shake" and the word for "guard" are homophones, meaning that they are pronounced the same. However, they are written using two distinct symbols. Therefore, the creator of the banner meant to say "guard" where he said "shake."
According to the CIA World Factbook, many people probably noticed this gaffe, as Mandarin is the official language of China. A good writing tool might have helped them avoid this mistake.