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Grammar Police in China on Bad Engrish

It tastes like money.

The task of translation is never an easy task in any language. Processing a sentence from English to French is not easily done by translating the basis of the words in the sentence. You have to take in account tenses, grammar, use of adjectives, and colloquialisms.

Translating Chinese to English takes another complex twist. Firstly, one is written in chinese characters, the other, in Roman alphabetics. To go through the arduous task of flipping through hardcopy dictionaries and thesaurus’s is not an efficient use of time in encrypting the complexities of the English language.

In China, the easiest way to translate English is to invest in a small pocket dictionary/translator that looks like a mini laptop which easily does the work for you. However, these machines sometimes fall short of giving the an accurate translation or severely mistranslates the whole sentence, which, is severely and most times humorously found with the signage around China:

Ouch.

Desirable.

Tasty tasty political ideology

It seems that Chinese officials are fed up being caught red faced with their country’s farce being lost in translation and have gone on a field day on correcting these signs.

Excerpt From the International Herald Tribune

The campaign is partly modeled on Beijing’s herculean effort to clean up English signage for the 2008 Summer Olympics, which led to the replacement of 400,000 street signs, 1,300 restaurant menus and such exemplars of impropriety as the Dongda Anus Hospital — now known as the Dongda Proctology Hospital. Gone, too, is Racist Park, a cultural attraction that has since been rechristened Minorities Park.

“The purpose of signage is to be useful, not to be amusing,” said Zhao Huimin, the former Chinese ambassador to the United States who, as director general of the capital’s Foreign Affairs Office, has been leading the fight for linguistic standardization and sobriety.

However, amusing is often a sight rarely seen in the urban environment. The unofficial landscaping work of street art, buskers, and the occasional hysteric bum add to the vibrant atmosphere of a city. Why not leave the signs as a tourist attraction? It could give the country a much needed softer image of its power hungry, communist dictated state, to a little hilarity that foreigners can laugh about. A suggestion for the campaign:

COME CHINA, LAUGH AT BAD ENGRISH 2010!

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About Ariff Azmi

Founder of shriekingmonkeys - My interests span from quirky culture to anything that dares to amuse my highly-desensitized nature.

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