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Central Chinese Government Not Charmed by Chinglish


© Zsoolt/Flickr
In China, turkey becomes “fire chicken.” Santa Claus becomes “Christmas old man.” And disabled becomes “deformed.”

Welcome to Chinglish.

Allen Watkin/Flickr
Allen Watkin/Flickr


Foreign tourists in China are often confused by signs in English because of Chinglish: A combination of Chinese and English that often gets lost in translation.

The central government wants to build its international image and attract more foreign tourists, so it has ordered a national standard for using English in the public domain, aimed at eradicating poor translations that damage the country’s image.

“It is nice to see that finally the Chinese government is dealing with this issue. I always feel embarrassed when I see awkward translations because the English signage represents an image to the world,” said Hao Chen.

But it’s not always well-executed, likely because the local government is responsible for making the signs.

Some people don’t believe the Chinese government needs English signage.

“Every country is different and unique. It is the Chinese words that make China unique. ... No one is complaining about Japan or Korea for lack of English signage,” said Whitemonkey on Twitter.

Sonja Laukkanen/Flickr
Sonja Laukkanen/Flickr


There are some unfortunate examples. The” Park of Ethnic Minorities” was translated to a sign that read “Racist Park”, according to the South China Morning Post. The Chinese government tried to correct this before the 2008 Olympics, but the problem persists.

However, others find the mistakes entertaining.

“Chinglish has become a huge part of the charm of living in China and many will be sad to see the mistranslations go,” said Eddie Du on Twitter.

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