Your Native Language Affects How You See This Image

June 5, 2017

Take a look at the symbol below. What does it say?

what do you see in this image?

Recently, during our visit to the Shanghai Disney Resort, Q and I noticed this symbol or variations of it around the park. Being a native English speaker, I immediately recognized it as a stylized form of the letters “FP”, the acronym denoting the “Fast Pass” service.

the symbol reads as 'FP' in english

Q, a native Chinese speaker, read it as " 快 ", the Chinese word for “quick”. When she told me that, I was shocked that I had never read it as " 快 ". Even though I studied Chinese for years and can easily read the word " 快 ", I only read it as “FP”. I also asked one of her friends, another native Chinese speaker, to take a look. She also read it as " 快 “”.

the symbol reads as '快' or 'kuài' in chinese

While this symbol may not be the most aesthetically balanced, I think it is a rather clever piece of design.

It also serves serves as a reminder that different people can interpret the same thing in wildly different ways. Therefore, no matter how we as designers perceive the things we create, we ultimately have to judge our work by how the people we design for react to them.