China declares war on “Chinglish”

For years, tourists in China have been showing friends back home amusingly bad translation of Chinese into English. The Internet has only accelerated this trend, with more and more hilarious examples being chronicled by the day.  But with next year’s World Expo fast approaching, the host city Shanghai–which is spending more money than Beijing did ...

581744_090825_chinglish2.jpg
581744_090825_chinglish2.jpg

For years, tourists in China have been showing friends back home amusingly bad translation of Chinese into English. The Internet has only accelerated this trend, with more and more hilarious examples being chronicled by the day

But with next year's World Expo fast approaching, the host city Shanghai--which is spending more money than Beijing did for the 2008 Summer Olympics--is cracking down on these silly translations:

For years, tourists in China have been showing friends back home amusingly bad translation of Chinese into English. The Internet has only accelerated this trend, with more and more hilarious examples being chronicled by the day

But with next year’s World Expo fast approaching, the host city Shanghai–which is spending more money than Beijing did for the 2008 Summer Olympics–is cracking down on these silly translations:

The Shanghai government, along with neighbouring Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, published a 20-page guide book this week to standardise signs and eliminate notoriously bad, and sometimes amusing, English translations.

“A number of the English translations are quite baffling, others are simply awkward,” Xue Mingyang, director of the Shanghai Education Commission, was quoted as telling the China Daily.

As the AP article notes, Beijing also tried this in 2008, but had to give up, as the task was too big. Interestingly, while poor translations will always be incorrect, Asian phonetic differences, such as the non-distinction between Ls and Rs, could be the next big changes in the English language: last year, researchers suggested that the next century will see English be replaced in many countries by “Panglish,” combining English with phonetic and grammatical structures from languages such as Tamil, Singaporean Malay, and Mandarin. 

Jeremybarwick/Flickr

James Downie is an editorial researcher at FP.
Tag: China

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