What happens when you mix Chinese and English? Well, you end up with Chinglish (中式英语 – zhōng shì yīng yǔ). Sometimes, Chinglish is just formed by using Chinese grammatical structures in English. Trying to translate Chinese directly into English will give you sentences such as “I very like play basketball” (我很喜欢打篮球 – wǒ hěn xǐ huan dǎ lán qiú) or “I with my friend together have dinner” (我跟我的朋友一起吃晚饭 – wǒ gēn wǒ de péng yǒu yī qǐ chī wǎn fàn). Other times, it is a result of trying to directly translate Chinese words for foreign things. That’s why I’ve had students ask me about “Christmas old man” (圣诞老人 – shèng dàn lǎo rén – Santa Claus) and the “fire chicken” (火鸡 – huǒ jī – turkey). Although the Chinese government is doing its best to eradicate Chinglish, thankfully they aren’t quite there yet. In many tourist sights, you’ll find an abundance of hilarious Chinglish signs. You’ll also find plenty of Chinglish on menus of restaurants, and you can even find it printed on shirts in local markets. For those of you who haven’t had the chance to laugh your ass off at ridiculous Chinglish all around China, I’ve built up a collection of some of my favorite photos from my years of living here. Here are 20 of my favorites:
If those just aren’t enough to satisfy your appetite for Chinglish, then I highly recommend checking out Engrish.com, where you’ll find countless more examples of Chinglish, as well as Korea’s Konglish and some other hilarious signs from around the world. Of course, if you’d prefer to actually learn Chinese, we have plenty of good resources for you.