For Chinglish’s sake !

Anyone who’s been to China or checked around the English blogosphere about China have all come across a widespread phenomenon on the mainland : Chinglish ! A famous –and infamous- mix between Chinese and English, and usually a bad one too. They can be found on official road signs, shops signs, railway stations, airports, parks…well, actually anywhere and everywhere.

Some of us may actually have tweeted about them, created facebook groups or blogs to spreading the laugh around. And resource, as it seems, is endless. 

In 2008, as the Olympic Games were approaching, the government reportedly hired foreigners to clean the walls –and save the face of the country-. But here we are, two years later, and it seems that –to our immense pleasure- they didn’t do such a great job. And let’s be honest Chinese people don’t really care if the English words on their shop signs are spelt wrong or not : it always makes for a good picture for the tourists to bring back home and why not, they might also want a little refreshment before hitting the road again. 

Apparently, the Chinese government will soon be making another effort to clean up its act -again- and deprive us of good laughs and memorable pictures while walking around the country. So watch out, ineptly-translated-language signs, after enduring years of mockery, you're coming to an end. Maybe! 

There is one place though, where Chinglish will live on : the CCTV-9, the ‘English’ channel of the –very stately owend – China Central Television. What a joke! They even have an annual English speaking contest where the Chinglishized CCTV-9 anchors actually stand as English experts! 

Checking around the web, I actually came across the blog of a guy –whose identity we’ll keep secret as it’s just plain stupid- who compares chinglish mockery to racists jokes. Now we say unanimously : come one ! Every country –without exception- has its own set of meaning-challenged signs and we just enjoy them as they are. 

So to all of you out there who try to quantify the moral value of ‘making fun of bad english signs’, there’s what we suggest : relax, take a beer and laugh ! Because that’s really all we can –and should- do about it. 

And because pictures are worth a thousand words, here are a few Chinglish examples we handpicked for you pleasure.

Good to know...

Finally an explanation!

It really sounds more like a North Korea dish!

I'll have my Iraqi government with sauce on the side, please!

And our favorite ever...

Frankly, it doesn’t get better than that… unfortunately, the sign was changed a few years ago. 

For more signs, both Chinglish or anywhere else in the world, we suggest you check out :


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Sometimes, a Chinglish sign is a lot better than a "correct" English one. And not just for comedy value. Take this: "Tender, fragrant grass. How hard-hearted to trample". "Keep off the grass" just sounds ugly in comparison. And it isn't as though the Chinglish version is incomprehensible. I also have to confess a certain attachment to "No noising" and "No scribbling", although I'll admit that they're far less poetic. In my opinion though, they get the message across just as well as "Quiet please" or "No grafitti" do. I disagree with the people who feel outraged that someone has dared to write English in such a way or who just outright mock the signs, because when it comes down to it, Chinglish shows that someone is trying. That's more than many English speakers can claim. But there's nothing wrong in being amused by these signs. I certainly am. And if I had a horrifically mistranslated Chinese tattoo on my arm, I expect the Chinese would find it amusing too. And there's nothing wrong in that either. Don't get me wrong. if a sign is telling you something of utmost importance, when we're talking about someone's life or liberty, then yes, a professional translation company should be brought in ASAP. But otherwise, Chinglish is fun, sometimes very poetic and full of charm. So as you say; "relax, take a beer and laugh!"

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