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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Signs Lost in Translation

In preparation for the Olympics, I need to talk with y'all about something Quite Serious. Beijing officials spent this past year heroically attempting to rid the summer host city of all traces of it. Unfortunately, a few hold-outs remain.

It's called Chinglish.

And it's Chinese Pidgin English. For example:

and even:

and my personal favorite:

Do you see what I mean, y'all?

Sometimes the examples aren't all that obvious unless you also read Mandarin. For example, a cyber-friend sent this photo to me. At first glance, she believed, "oh, how nice of them to label the local tourist's office."

But then she read the Mandarin.

And the sign?

It actually resembles, "You. Tourist. Stop." As in...

Go Away.

It's a running joke among the many English-speaking visitors as well as the lao wai (老外 : foreigners) who live in China. They've set up websites to share the many humorous examples, including Engrish and Flickr.

It's not always hysterical though, y'all. Sometimes the Chinglish translation causes much angst. Beijing Olympics officials recently changed a sign that read "Racist Park" to "Ethnic Minorities Park."

Now you understand WHY they are doing it.

Still... I'm really gonna miss Chinglish.

Because I have a history with it.

And because it's funny, y'all.

And sometimes... sometimes... it Speaks the Truth on a deeper level.


Briana's Mom said...

Funny stuff!

Aunt LoLo said...

I seriously doubt they can standardize ALL the signs in Beijing. ;-) I certainly hope not!

And, if you're really missing it, you can always find them in NYC's Chinatown. On Saturday, I found a sign that said "Hireling Managers." Which totally sounded right when I read it out loud.

Oh, and on the menu for the Grand Sichuan on St. Mark's - they have several sections. There are, of course, Mao's Favorites. There are Noodles. There are Vegetables. And then, of course, my favorite - Anthentic Sichuan Dishes.

Is that like the OPPOSITE of authentic?

Lisa and Tate said...

This is funny! Maybe after all this Chinglish changes happens, those workers can help out the CC*A and get out our referrals!?

Thanks for stopping by my blog!


prechrswife said...

Those signs are priceless. We saw some funny ones while we were in China.

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

Funny signs....they always say, "Things get lost in translation"


Cajunchic said...

I love "Do Business Normally" lol It makes me wonder how else they do business.

Shawnstribe said...

people say things get lost in translation, but i think you are so right, we all gained a smile today : )
thank you
hows the foot????

Catherine said...

Funny! My favourite when I was in India was the number of 'Hair Dressing Saloons' they had there.

Nice to meet you! Thanks for the comment on my blog.

Kia said...

Highlarious! HIGH!! LOL I got an email a while back with a bunch of these CHinglish signs. ;)

Lanxi said...

One of the things that kept us laughing while we lived there! Thanks for sharing a laugh with all of us.

happygeek said...

I LOVED the sign on the great wall. I would have been there with you slipping away.

Janet said...

Love that last one. I think I should hang it up in my house. LOL!

Cloudscome said...

My favorite sign seen in China was outside a mosque and said, "You must take a bath before you go to church." Not Chinglish at all - it made perfect sense!