American Born Chinese – 美國土生華人

May 14, 2007

Chinese government places ban on “Chinglish” in preparation for Beijing Olympics 2008

Filed under: China/Hong Kong, Eastern/Western Ties — americanbornchinese @ 10:08 pm

Reading some articles online as I was browsing the net gave me quite a laugh of amusement.

China, in light of the upcoming 2008 Olympics situated in Beijing, has decided to ban “Chinglish,” which consists of odd yet funny English translations derived originally from Chinese signs, for the sake of the huge horde of English-speaking Western tourists that will be visiting the capital at that time.

From danger signs to Chinese menus, Chinglish is prevalent throughout the city, and there are translations such as “young chicken without sex” on a menu or on a signboard of a noodle restaurant which bears the English name “face powder restaurant” (the Chinese term “noodle” can be translated separately into “face” and “powder”). Further examples would be an Ethnic Minorities Park which is coined with the English phrase “Racist Park” and a plate of fish mistakenly worded as “Crap in the Grass” (meant to be “carp”).

By the time the Olympics arrive in 2008, the Chinese government wishes to address the situation by displaying approved and grammatically correct English phrases for public signs and to have at least one-third of its residents speaking proficient English. In order to do that, the government is undertaking serious measures to achieve its objective in a timely manner by the end of 2007.

Sample Chinese placard bearing poor English:
So what does this mean?
Reading the translation in English is equivalent to not having read it at all. So what do they mean by “It is ancient to pack photo”? According to the owner of this image, he explains on his website that “At this place you could dress up in ancient Chinese clothes and have your picture taken – similar to how we do it in the USA with old cowboy western gear.” Image Source (Original Website)

Here’s a Google video that addresses the current situation of “Chinglish” regarding heightened awareness and the proposed actions of the Chinese government to remedy the problem. Click here to watch it in a new window.

If you want to find out further information about this topic, you may read the following articles below:

Chinglish on Beijing’s Signs Shocks Foreigners (China.org.cn)
Beijing losing ‘Chinglish’ battle (NEWS.com.au)
Beijing stamps out poor English (BBC News)
Ahead Of The Olympics, Beijing Cleans Up Its ‘Chinglish’ (Washington Bureau)

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