Shanghai Seeks to Stamp Out 'Chinglish' Signs
By Jane Yager, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2009 6:06 AM CDT
A sign at the entrance of a bathroom in a public building warns "Careful Landslip Attention Security" in Beijing on Aug. 8, 2006.   (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)

(Newser) – Foreign tourists in Shanghai may soon have to go without the amusement of photographing signs in mangled English: City authorities, long embarrassed by the signs, are launching a campaign to root out "Chinglish" ahead of hosting the 2010 World Expo, the BBC reports. Student volunteers will check the city's signs, on the lookout for warnings to "keep valuables snugly" or "bump your head carefully". 

Chinglish on display in Shanghai ranges from the awkward-but-decipherable ("beware the people press close to you designedly") to the woefully mistranslated ("please leave your values at the front desk") to the downright surreal: "If you are stolen, call the police at once." The city hopes it can induce those responsible for the errors to correct them. 

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Jodie Kane
Feb 4, 2011 5:41 AM CST
Eradicating Chinglish in all forms seems like a huge overreaction to me. Not least of all because sometimes, the English translation is just there for aesthetic purposes. It's exactly the same thing as someone getting a Chinese tattoo, with absolutely no clue as to what it actually means. It just happens to look cool from a Western perspective. For all we know, English words might look cool from a Chinese perspective. And sometimes, a Chinglish sign hasn't occured as the result of a poor command of English. This, for example: "Tender, fragrant grass. How hard-hearted to trample". I do bang on and on about that example but I think it's valid. Personally, I suspect that they're simply conveying the mesage in English as it would be conveyed in Chinese. Not a direct order, but an appeal to your better nature perhaps? I'm just speculating, as I don't speak a word of Mandarin but I find that sign perfectly comprehensible, so I don't see the problem with it. You can't have this kind of thing cropping up in medical logs say, or legal documents but you'd hope a professional translation company was being used for that kind of thing anyway. And if not, changes need to be made and quickly. But unless it's something huge at stake, this war on Chinglish just seems a bit daft.
Aug 26, 2009 7:57 AM CDT
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Aug 25, 2009 7:28 AM CDT
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