English-speaking tourists visiting Wat Phnom are welcomed to “Join of Prevent Environment Site for Brighten Charming.” The attempted word-for-word translation is printed under a Khmer phrase encouraging sustainable tourism.
It is one of six new signs requesting the religious site’s preservation that were erected last month. Others include “Join of Protect and Maintain National Heritage for Sustain” and “We All Joint To Protect and Maintain Historical and Culture Tourism Site for Sustain”-were put up last month.
The municipality and Tourism Ministry cooperated to erect the public notices on Nov 30, said Sam Chanreth, deputy head of the municipal tourism department.
“All words on the signs are prepared by the Tourism Ministry,” he said, noting the ministry had paid for the signs. “I will check on the sign again. Perhaps there is an error with a technical word, but that would be normal because English is not our language.”
Keo Phoung, director of the Tourism Ministry’s culture department, said that tourism committees in almost every province of Cambodia are responsible for similar signs.
“We just give approval of the meaning and provide criteria for standard signs to each committee who carry out the building process,” Mr Phoung said, noting that the Ministry’s tagline “Clean City, Clean Resort, Good Service,” also on display at Wat Phnom, was used throughout the country.
“Khmer people have enough ability to be responsible for translation to English, he said”
Kim Savuth, director of a committee for Wat Phnom with members from the municipality’s tourism and culture departments, said its officials translated the slogans into English. “We do not need an English expert to translate this sign,” he said.
Ho Vandy, secretary-general of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said that correct English was needed to communicate effectively with consumers in the tourist market. “Sometimes there are misprints or mistyped language, so we have to check up,” Mr Vandy said.
Errors crop up not only on signs, but also magazines or brochures, he said, noting that the Tourism Ministry should pay attention to ensure mistakes were not made. “They have to take more care to make [language] nice and clear.”