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There is a machine installed in some TAXI cars within China. Whenever a new passenger enters the car, it will play this sentence: "Welcome to take our TAXI!" One of my American friends pointed it out that it's plain wrong. I think it can be because to here is a prep. instead of an infinitive header.

So I am wondering what's the true reason why it's wrong and what's the correct wording to denote the same sense?

The one I can get is: You are welcome to take our TAXI!, but it's a bit different in meaning from the original one.

Any thoughts?

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First off, "taxi" is not a acronym, so is not written TAXI (it comes from "taximeter cab", and ultimately from Latin taxa=to charge)

Next it is culturally wrong. If get in a taxi in the UK or the USA, the taxi driver doesn't say "Welcome". They probably say "Where to?". It is quite possible that taxi drivers in China do use some kind of greeting that could be translated as "welcome" but this doesn't translate well.

When we do use "welcome" we might say "Welcome to my home" or "Welcome to our school" when greeting a visitor and guest to a place. We also say "You are welcome to sit anywhere" when allowing a guest to do something. Neither sense works well in the context of a taxi.

Personally, I would just turn off the robotic voice, or say something in Chinese, however, if Marketing feel that the taxi has to say something, a phrase like "Thank you for choosing "A1 Taxis". We hope you have a pleasant ride." is suitably anodyne. (Anodyne = inoffensive) You could give some information: "Customers are reminded that smoking is not permitted in the taxi cab"

"You are welcome to take our taxi" is grammatically correct, but it could mean "you may ride in our taxi" (thanks, but do I really need your permission?) or it could mean "You may steal our taxi" (Wow, free car!). I don't think either meaning is intended. You don't need to tell a customer that they can ride in a taxi, they already know that.

If I am in China, I would be grateful if the taxi driver speaks some English (given that "ni-hao" is the limit of my Mandarin) but I don't need the taxi to talk. If you want to have a welcome message only to be polite to English speaking visitors, be aware that we neither want nor need taxis to talk!

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    If I heard "Welcome to Take our Taxi!" when I entered a cab, I might wonder if "Take our Taxi" was the name of the cab company. Otherwise, the sentence makes no sense, as you say. – J.R. Jul 12 '18 at 14:18
  • Is "you are welcome to take our taxi." a correct sentence? Will it be ok to use for interpreting its Chinese equivalent? – dan Jul 12 '18 at 15:03
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    Correct, but see my edit – James K Jul 12 '18 at 15:18
  • @JamesK thanks for the update! It's not just from that machine. It can also be a normal greeting in daily usage. I just don't know how to translate this idiomatic Chinese sentence to English, because it turns into incorrect when it becomes English. – dan Jul 12 '18 at 15:29
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    The OP said this was a machine that plays the utterance. It should just "say": Welcome to [company name] taxi service. Or something of that ilk. – Lambie Jul 12 '18 at 16:08
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Conversation: Mr. Liu, you are welcome to stay at our house for the three weeks you must be here on business.

Recorded Message, direct speech: Welcome to the Red Dragon Taxi Service. Another example, in actual, direct speech: Welcome to Shanghai! How long will you be staying in the city?

Description: The guests were welcomed at the side-door entrance to the party and on the porch of the mansion.

In English, we greet people who come to a new place by saying: Welcome to [wherever].

"You are welcome to [do something]" has a different meaning. It means: It's fine if you do [something].

One might say: "You are welcome to use the pool this afternoon but tomorrow the pool area is reserved for a party."

I don't think a taxi service would say: It's fine for you to use our taxi but that is what is being said with: "You are welcome to take our Taxi".

That might be said in a different situation.....

  • Thanks! Welcome to the Red Dragon Taxi Service helps a lot! – dan Jul 12 '18 at 22:41
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The complement of to in Welcome to must resolve to a place, broadly construed, so that it could include an event that takes place.

The word welcome is a fossilized form that contains the verb come. You come to {a place}.

Welcome to my taxi.

Welcome to our home.

Welcome to Boston.

Welcome to Texas.

Welcome to the worst taxi ride of your life.

Welcome to Lollapalooza 2018.

P.S. As you note in your question, and as James says in his answer with "you are welcome to sit..." "Welcome to _____" and "You are welcome to _________" take different complements.

  • A side question: what's the usage of resolve to in your answer? I can't find it in my dictionary. Thanks! – dan Jul 12 '18 at 14:59
  • @dan: Sorry, but I don't know what you mean by "what's the usage". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 12 '18 at 15:15
  • ok, what does it mean then? – dan Jul 12 '18 at 15:21
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    @dan: Try 3.1 here: en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/resolve I'm using it in the sense of "into a more elementary form". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 12 '18 at 15:21

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