Here's another crackdown that I can fully support: one on the use of Chinglish in signs. Chinglish is the common term used locally to refer to poorly translated English that can be found on everything from street signs to menus. One fun area where Chinglish pops up is in the translation of movie titles. I remember years ago being asked by my students if I'd seen the movie "Good-bye Weapons." Huh! A little back and forth for clarification revealed that he was referring to the movie "Farewell to Arms." You can go here to read a previous post on one of my favorite chinglish signs: More Perils of Direct Translation
The government announced recently that it was launching a campaign to get rid of Chinglish in the run up to the Olympics. Here's the article from the Xinhua News Agency:
Beijing has launched a campaign to correct its "Chinglish", or Chinese-style English, on bilingual signs as part of its make-over for the 2008 Olympic Games. The Beijing Municipal Tourism Bureau has issued a regulation requiring correct English signs as one of the most important criteria for unrated hotels to qualify as official accommodation providers. The city has around 4,000 unrated hotels, which are competing for the right to join star-rated hotels offering services for the Games. The regulation requires hotels to translate their names, service hours, room rates, and notices for guests into accurate English. They should also provide signs and menus in correct English. "Chinglish" was once prevalent in the city's signs. For example, some hotels misuse "scatter" for "evacuate" in their emergency information. Tobacco shops still advertise the sale of "smoke" instead of cigarettes and the Park of Ethnic Minorities is identified as the "Racist Park". Drivers are warned of the hazards of a wet road with a sign that reads: "The slippery are very crafty." Foreigners are often confused or misled by these signs. In a bid to improve the city's bilingual signs and teach the public basic English, the Beijing Speaks to the World Committee, a non-governmental linguistic organization established in 2002, is identifying and correcting translation mistakes in shopping centers, hotels, parks, buses, subways and even the airport. Zhou Chen, information officer with the committee, said the organization this year released a set of standards on Chinese-English translation for public signs, such as traffic and road name signs. "The committee will cooperate with Beijing Traffic Management Bureau to review and improve bilingual road signs according to the Chinese to English translation standards," Zhou said.
Not only are foreigners often misled and confused, they are amused.
And stay tuned for an upcoming post on the dreadful things foreigners (like me) say when we don't pay attention to tones while speaking Chinese. It would be called "Engnese" I suppose!