If you’ve ever visited China, you’ve undoubtably come across a “Chinglish” sign that makes you either stop and scratch your head or burst out laughing. These signs, which usually are the by-product of direct plug and play dictionary findings by a non-English speaker, are a stark reminder of the subtle, yet important differences between English and Chinese.
“Chinglish” or 中式英语 (zhōngshìyīngyǔ) is a hybridization of English and Chinese–even if intentionally so. While sometimes the meanings fall short of their mark, mistranslations always bring a good laugh. Here’s a good Chinglish website called ChairmanLoL if you want to laugh.
Below are a series of Chinglish signs that I have frequently come across–all throughout China (and even Taiwan). Unfortunately, following the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 Shanghai Expo, the prevalence of these signs has diminished, due in large to government programs and the influx of native English speakers the last few years.
Just recently XinHua zidian or the Official Chinese Dictionary, added 11 new Chinglish words, including “bye-bye” or “bai bai”. This reflects the growing trend of Chinglish and English phrases making their way into the layman’s lexicon.
In fact, one of my part time jobs in China was to simply translate from Chinglish to English. Cushy job, no?
Here’s a video slideshow of noteworthy Chinglish Signs:
Chinglish in Shanghai:
So before most of these signs get fixed up by 老外’s trying to earn a paycheck, take a look at my personal favorites in the gallery below and please feel free to send me comments/links with your favorite Chinglish signs:
Follow Steve on Twitter: @seeitbelieveit