Marry Xmas To All - Chinglish in China

Trip Start May 24, 2004
Trip End Jun 2005

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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Westerners have been coming to China since Marco Polo. Probably from about 2 days after that momentous event and the novelty wore-off, one of the oldest hobbies for foreigners in China started - snickering over Chinglish signs.

The level of English in China is somewhat lower than other countries. Presumably that is why they are so desperate they'll hire engineers to teach english. So a lot of signage is a bit wrong here and there. Westerners fondly refer to it as "Chinglish".

Hotels registered to have foreign guests proudly display official plaques stating "Aliens allowed". DVD's carry plot summaries that look like a dictionary spewed all over it (you also come across ones that have just cut-and-pasted license agreements for software, or downloaded any review they could find regardless of whether it complimented or trashed the movie). Descriptions at tourist sites can be exercises in lateral thinking.

But probably the scariest thing about these signs is that when you're out wandering, trying to find your way around, this is about the most information you'll get that day.

This phrase is currently outnumbering greetings of "Merry Xmas"...

Why we have a job for life.


I missed that part of the movie.

We have also been told by a student who borrowed M's copy of the DVD "Lost in Translation" that the Chinese translation of the title is actually "Lost in Tokyo". Oh, the irony.

Adverse? Severe? Beware?

Nice idea at the end, but doesn't happen, trust me.

Shouldn't do that sort of thing in the bushes you know.


Close, but no cigar.

My favourite. They mean "grounds maintained by..." Note that this is a sign for the english department.

Yes, as you're sliding down the hill, please make sure all your clothes are in order.

Get the feeling they don't like foreigners?

Or just don't understand us...

And this week's prize goes to whoever can tell me what this means.

So is your signage.

I feel like this should be a Haiku poem.

Hoorah to the sign writers who keep the tourists amusience.

And this is only a small portion of what we've seen on our trip. The government has got a bit of a campaign going on to get rid of this quaint art form before the Olympics, so maybe its a dying hobby. But I doubt it.
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