The Harvard Library 20 Wall Statements Nonsense


Link to Harvard’s reply:

What started as “Scribbles on the wall/desk at 4:30 a.m.” has morphed into a set of  “commandments” quoted in earnest by teachers, school principals, and motivation speakers in China.

30th Jan, 2010.
1. In respond to an inquiry from Mr. Chan, 上海市田园高级中学英语教研组组长, Deborah Kelley-Milburn, Research Librarian & Virtual Reference Coordinator at Harvard University, said unequivocally that such “sayings” do not exist.

2.Danny Fung, the author of the book “ALLOCUTIONS ON THE WALL OF THE HARVARD UNIVERSITY LIBRARY” has admitted it was all fabricated.

You can find the Chinese newspaper report: “哈佛墙上的训言开国际玩笑 作者承认编造” on the Internet.
Note, however, the “Harvard at 4:00 a.m.” post has been in circulation since at least 2007, while Mr. Fung’s book was published only in 2008.

The Harvard Library motto nonsense.
a.k.a. “What the heck is Halazi mobility?” or “What kind of English is ‘is lacks diligently’? (这是哪门子英语语法?)”

Since Nov, 2007, articles with headings such as:
” Harvard University Library Study Room Wall VTC Statement”
“Scence of Harvard Library at 4:30 a.m.”

have been spreading like wild fire on Chinese websites, blogs, and BBSes. There is even a book published in China with a bilingual title:”哈佛图书馆自习室墙上的训言 / ALLOCUTIONS ON THE WALL OF THE HARVARD UNIVERSITY LIBRARY

Some titles are in outrageously bad, incomprehensible, English.
Harvard Libraries on the wall made of training
Harvard University Campus Training Introduction
Motto of the Harvard Library on the wall
Harvard Library of the wall 20 training words

Some of these are in Chinese, some are bilingual. There is only one Chinese version, but at least five different English versions, two of which are written in completely mangled machine translated English. This alone should have warned readers that it could not possibly be a product of Harvard’s. But most people seem to prefer blind faith to logic. Yes, a few people tried to open other people’s eyes, but for one such attempt, there are hundreds of “Harvard Library Wall engraving” popping up like mushrooms after a spring rain.

This spread of misinformation has now reached epidemic proportion. School teachers are posting them up on billboards, school principals conduct their morning assembly by giving a talk on this, “Learn English” forums, cram schools, are putting these up as “good English learning material”–makes you wonder what qualification these people have when they could not even tell “is lacks diligently” is not “English” at all! Recently, this “nonsense” appeared on the Ministry of Commerce website as a reading recommendation (中华人民共和国商务部选作双语阅读), and was soundly ridiculed on the Chinadaily BBS ( 堪称 Chinglish 的典范,值得“共勉”! 这就是哈佛的凌晨4点!共勉. 有谁知道这是出自何人手笔的吗?/Classic example of Chinglish. “Harvard at 4 a.m.”. Can someone tell me who is responsible for this?) The most hilarious is the Korean version of “Words of knowledge from the Harvard Toilet“!

There are twenty “mottos” in the set. Let us start by examining a few from each of the two “broken English” versions. I will not put down the Chinese version yet, because that will clue you in as to what they mean.

Version I:
1. This moment will nap, you will have a dream; But this moment study,you will interpret a dream.
3. Thought is already is late, exactly is the earliest time.
6. Studies this matter, lacks the time, but is lacks diligently.
15. Today does not walk, will have to run tomorrow.
20. Has not been difficult, then does not have attains


1. How can a “moment” (a time) take a nap? “The moment will nap, you will have a dream” tells of two different entities: “the moment” and “you”. “Interpret a dream” 不是圆梦. “Interpret a dream” 是“解梦”(See Chinese text below.)

2. There are two verbs to be in the first sentence. I said “first sentence” because the comma should be a period. “Exactly is the earliest time”: “What” exactly?

6. Anyone with a basic command of English should notice there is a problem with “is lacks diligently.”

15. Yes indeed! “Today” cannot walk! You and I can, but certainly not “yesterday”,”today” or “tomorrow”.

20. “Has not been difficult, then does not have attains”. Who or what has not been difficult? And pray tell what “does not have attains” means.

Now let’s have a look at the corresponding Chinese text.

Clearly, this is a product typical of software produced translation from Chinese (机器翻译的英语), and not something written by, or worthy of Harvard.

How can English so foul be engraved on the wall of the Harvard Library? Give me a break!

Wait. Don’t go away; I am not done yet. The worse is yet to come.

The second English version is even more outrageous. Let’s look at a few.
13.Now the Halazi mobility will become tomorrow’s tears.
17.Representatives income level of education.
18. End the day will not come again.
20. Not difficult, it nil.

Can’t figure out what they say? I can’t either. So here is the Chinese version to help you out.

I bet if you were to stop any native English speaker on the street, anywhere in the world, and ask he/she what “Halazi mobility” is, he/she would be completely dumbfounded. Obviously, these were originally written in Chinese. They were then translated into English by software. I was told that version 1 was the handiwork of Yahoo’s babelfish software translator.

I have also come across a third and forth version. Version 3 is slightly better, obviously of human origin. Version 4 was by Mr.Wang at New Oriental School, while Version 5, the best so far, was a “group-effort translation for fun exercise” at the Rainlane BBS. Authors of versions 4 and 5 flatly refuse to believe this mess comes from Harvard.

Academic institutions such as Harvard are called “Ivory Towers” because of their lofty ideals. Talking about levels of income, or ranking of successes, is definitely not their mindset. Have a look at Harvard’s motto and you will see what I mean:” “Veritas.” (Truth).

On the other hand, these so called “Allocutions” are not particularly profound, nothing more than a smorgasbord of old, well known sayings plus a few home spun preachings. Some even don’t make much sense: “Time is passing”, while others, such as “there is a ranking for success”, are crass rather than philosophical. Without the label of “Harvard University Library”, few, if any, would give it a second glance. But once someone tags it with that label, it takes on the aurora of respectability and rises to an oracular status.

The real Harvard Motto is:
“Veritas.” (Truth.)
the inscription at Harvard’s Dexter Gate reads,

.”Enter to grow in wisdom”;
“Depart to serve better thy country and thy kind.”

You can see from them what the true Harvard spirit is.

So please tell your friends, and ask them to tell their friends, this ”哈佛图书馆自习室墙上的训言”is a complete fabrication. 网上有不少人看不出这是不通英语越传越多, 以讹传讹 传千千万万。请大家把这消息传出去,免有更多人闹笑话。

Originally written for under the penname of “forgotoldname”.
I have been going to numerous websites, blogs, BBSes, tutorial school sites since late 2007, trying to convince people that the whole thing is fabricated. For that I have been chastised, my ID banned, and even my IP banned, from many places, including many Learn-English tutorial school sites such as 东方网站 Koolearn. The teachers, professors, head of law dept, school principals, moderators and administrators in those places steadfastly held onto the believe that the 哈佛图书馆墙上的训言 is real. I have been banned from several sites; some even banned my IP number from accessing their sites.

The most popular Broken-English version of the fabricated Harvard Library Study Room Wall Inscription

不清不楚不知所云软件译的捏造的英文哈佛图书馆墙上的训言/Totally incomprehensible software translation of the fabricated “Maxims on the Wall of the Harvard Library Study Room.”

1. This moment will nap, you will have a dream; But this moment study,you will interpret a dream.

2. I leave uncultivated today, was precisely yesterday perishes tomorrow which person of the body implored.

3. Thought is already is late, exactly is the earliest time.

4. Not matter of the today will drag tomorrow.

5. Time the study pain is temporary, has not learned the pain islife-long.

6. Studies this matter, lacks the time, but is lacks diligently.

7. Perhaps happiness does not arrange the position, but succeeds must arrange the position.

8. The study certainly is not the life complete. But, since continually life part of – studies also is unable to conquer, what but also can make?

9. Please enjoy the pain which is unable to avoid.

10. Only has compared to the others early, diligently diligently, can feel the successful taste.

11. Nobody can casually succeed, it comes from the thorough self-control and the will.

12. The time is passing.

13. Now drips the saliva, will become tomorrow the tear.

14. The dog equally study, the gentleman equally plays.

15. Today does not walk, will have to run tomorrow.

16. The investment future person will be, will be loyal to the realityperson.

17. The education level represents the income.

18. One day, has not been able again to come.

19. Even if the present, the match does not stop changes the page.

20. Has not been difficult, then does not have attains.

The worst Broken-English version of the fabricated Harvard Library Study Room Wall Inscription

超烂英语版无中生有瞎扯的 哈佛图书馆墙上的训言 (Another hilarious “English” version: more like gibberish than English!)

1. Nodding at the moment, you will dream; While studying at the moment, you will come true. “You will come true”哈!哈!哈! Ha! Ha! Ha!

2. I deserted today, is the person who failed yesterday to pray for tomorrow.

3. That too late when it is the first time.

4. Do not wait until tomorrow to recover.

5. The study, the pain is temporary, not a lot of pain is lifelong.

6. Learning this, and not lack of time, but lack of effort.

7. Happiness may not be ranked, but success will at the top.

8. Learning is not all of life. However, since even a part of life – learning can conquer, what can be done?

9. Please enjoy the unavoidable suffering.

10. Only earlier than others, more diligent efforts to taste the taste of success.

11. No one should be casual successful, it comes from a thorough self-management and perseverance.

12. Time passes.

13. Now the Halazi mobility will become tomorrow’s tears. “Halazi mobility”是什么英语? What the heck is “Halazi mobility”?

14. Dogs like to learn, as a gentleman to play.

15. This does not leave tomorrow He walked.

16. Invest in the future of the people, loyal to the people in reality.

17. Representatives income level of education.

18. End the day will not come again.

19. Even now, opponents also kept banging on the page.

20. Not difficult, it nil. 是什么英语(What kind of English is this)?


Further reading:

(*)”Scribble left on the desk…”: Ivy
Times (Korea):”There are many scribbles on the desks of Harvard’s central library. They include: “If you sleep now, you will have a dream, but if you study now, you will realize a dream”; “Even though happiness is not based on a person’s performance records, success is the likely result”; and “If you study one more hour, you will have a better husband.” The scribbl(e)s reflect the desperation many Harvard students feel.”


Supposed to show Harvard Libraries at 4:30 a.m. In reality, only the Lamont library is open at that time, but there are few people there at those wee hours.

For details,  read “Harvard Students wear no nice clothes. ..etc”: The Resurgence of Harvard Library at 4:30 a.m.


Incomprehensible English

超烂英语被中华人民共和国商务部选作双语阅读 The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has selected this as their “recommended bilingual reading”. Hopefully, they have taken it down by now.

Here is a record that it actually happened.

None of the “名师s”(resident famous teachers) listed on the right hand side noticed anything wrong with the English on the left hand side. School ignored several pleads to have the page removed. Teachers ignored email notices concerning the “bad English.”

The infamous book by Danny Fung


18. One of several different Korean Versions of this nonsense:

1. If you sleep now, you will be dreaming.
If you study now, you will be achieving your dream.
니가 지금 잠을잔다면, 너는 꿈을 꿀 것이다.
니가 지금 공부한다면, 너는 꿈을 이룰것이다.

2. The today that you wasted is the tomorrow that a dying person wished to live.
니가 낭비한 오늘은 어제 죽은이가 소망하던 내일이다.

21.(#23 in another version) Sleep instead of dozing. (?!?!?!?!)
졸지 말고 자라

27/(30 in another version). You got to be kidding! 27. One more hour of study, you will have a better husband.
한 시간 더 공부하면, 더 나은 남편을 가질것이다.
[출처] 캠푸스 – 학습 커뮤니티 -

Another Korean version: This one claims there are thirty

Some words of knowledge from the toilet(!!) in Havard


Harvard Library at 4:30 a.m. rises from the ashes!

This time it is accompanied by an even more hilarius, if not outrageous text.
It appears on more than 200 blogs in Sina alone!

Excerpt (in Chinese.)
哈佛的学生餐厅,很难听到说话的声音,每个学生端着比萨可乐坐下后,往往顺手把大衣扔地上,然后边吃边看书或是做笔记。我就没见过哪个学生光吃不读的,更没见过哪个学生边吃边闲聊的。…. 哈佛校园里,不见华服,不见化妆,更不见晃里晃荡,只有匆匆的脚步….

In English, it mens:

Hardly anyone talks in the Harvard cafeteria. Students, after sitting down with their pizza and coke, throw their coats causally onto the floor, and will then read or write notes while eating. You will never see any student eating without studying, or engaging in idle chatter..Harvard students don’t wear nice clothes or put on make-ups. No one loiters around. There are only hurried footsteps…


I cannot visualize Harvard students wearing Mao jackets and walking around like zombies in a Gulag, can you?

Utter nonsense! But sadly, quite a lot of people believe it, and even defend it with tooth and nail!

When someone pointed out the absurdity, the Blogger retorted:

Are you of Harvard?
Have you been to Harard?
Are you qualified to make these comments?
Does what you say has any meaning?

When the commentator replied that he had been to Harvard six times, the Blogger said, ” so what? Even if you been there 600 times, it doesn’t prove a thing….”

China’s biggest tutorial school for English has this on their Blog.


Another tutorial school’s webpage


Nov, 2008 issue of the “University English”

This entry was posted in The Made-in-China Harvard Library Mottoes. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Harvard Library 20 Wall Statements Nonsense

  1. Pingback: The Harvard Library 20 Wall Statements Nonsense (via Jag’s space) | Shawn

  2. Very well written information. It will be useful to anybody who usess it, including yours truly :). Keep up the good work – can’r wait to read more posts.

  3. Chelsea says:

    it’s impressive that it has been specially spread in China and Korea.

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