The Chinese government, anxious that certain unfortunate ‘Chinglish’ phrases are showing the country in a bad light, are trying to stamp out comically bad translations by introducing a national standard for English language use in public places. That’s right. Come December 1st 2017, China’s Standardisation Administration and General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (an actual government department) will oversea a clampdown and introduce strict new guidelines which could mean the end of Chinglish as we know it.
This makes me sad, because while some Chinglish in nonsensical, other examples are hilarious. The crux of the problem is that English and Chinese are so vastly different, not all the words ‘match.’ Heck, some don’t even come close.
Luckily, during my five years in the Middle Kingdom, I managed to capture lots of evidence of classic Chinglish at work. Here are some of my favourites.
I’m sure there’s some good advice buried deep in this notice. But…
From a shopping bag in Tianjin…
‘Ainol’ is actually a legit brand name. I just don’t think they realise how close it is phonetically to ‘Anal.’ My teaching assistant couldn’t understand why I thought this was so funny, and i didn’t have the heart to explain it to her. Especially as it probably would have necessitated the use of diagrams.
As it turns out, it seems describing toilet habits pose a particular challenge to translators.
They have a tendency to, er, overstate things. Fantastic.
And some make no sense whatsoever.