keep/save/protect the child

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boozer

Senior Member
Bulgarian
Hello, friends. I have been meaning to ask you this for quite some time. A few years ago the national TV and local authorities in my country launched a campaign aimed at protecting our children from traffic dangers. Then they decided to translate the title of the campaign into English, so one morning you could see the sentence 'Stop! Keep the child!' at every corner and near every school, kindergarten, etc. I found that quite funny. While I myself, as a motorist, was unimpressed, I am sure the large number of pregnant English-speaking women on their way to have an abortion were made to reconsider :D Someone must have clued in the local TV on that and a few months later all signs were replaced and a new translation appeared: 'Stop! Save the child!' This one is still around. Now, while that is a definite improvement, I think it still implies that 'the child' must already be in some sort of danger, from which to be saved. However, this is not the intention really. The intention is to make motorists act in such a way (stop!) as to avoid exposing our children to danger. I know I am probably being too... fussy about it, but I myself would probably have used the word 'protect the child'. What do you think about it? Am I just imagining things? Or am I completely wrong? (It is quite possible).
 
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  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I don't think you're being too fussy, Boozer. All those translations seem a little odd to me. I'd expect something different on a traffic sign written by a competent native speaker.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    You're right, but I would shorten the message to "Watch for children" or "Stop for children" – "Stop! Protect our children" tells me to stop whether there are children around or not.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Yes, Mr. Right, this is exactly the intended meaning - while passing by a school or kindergarten you are required to slow down and come down to a halt, almost, because a child may rush out on the road even when you cannot see one.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    If you're looking for better versions, Boozer, you might consider "Watch out for children". I've noticed that "watch out for X" is a common formula over here whenever the traffic engineers think that drivers should be watching out for something.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    "Stop!" means stop, not come to a halt almost. The local government should do a little research in English-speaking countries. "SLOW – CHILDREN CROSSING" is very common. You can put slow children crossing in Google Images for examples that show how to keep it from looking like a crossing for slow children.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Thank you both. I was not looking for ways to rephrase that completely. The thing is, the campaign has already got its name in Bulgarian and they have come up with that translation, which has to follow, as closely as possible, the grammar and structure of the original. This is not just a traffic sign. In other words, while it is important to make it sound good in English, it only remains a translation that is limited by the original. I was wondering, for my own sake, what would be a suitable verb expressing the idea of the original...
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Watch for children. We would not use the singular "child" in this context, so I have no verb to suggest, nor, on a personal note, do I have any patience for direct translations.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I agree with Copyright, Boozer. "Stop! Save the child!" - this sign would be an open invitation for a lawsuit against the city in my part of the world. Who is responsible for damages if somebody brings his vehicle to a complete stop on the road and causes an accident? If the authorities want people to slow down in some area where a lot of children cross the road, there are better ways to tell drivers to do that.
     
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