Thursday, 16 June 2011

Corrugated for her pleasure

I'd heard of Chinglish long before I visited China. The web is full of these often hilarious examples of Chinese-English mistranslations, with grammar and spelling mistakes or odd word choice, but I never expected them to be so prevalent - especially in museums and major tourist attractions.

At the Pearl Tower in Shanghai, visitors are asked not to bring "animals and the articles which disturb common sanitation (including the peculiar smell of effluvium)" nor "dangerous germs, pests and other baleful biology", that is assuming you're actually allowed into the tower, which also forbids the "ragamuffin, drunken people and psychotic" from entering.

Here are a few examples I captured in a garden in Suzhou:

So why are we asked to "Mind the virescence" rather than to "Keep off the grass"? Is this an elaborate practical joke by the English speakers of China or are all English lessons conducted with a Victorian thesaurus? China did try to correct a lot of their signs for the Shanghai expo to avoid embarrassment - I'm surprised that English-speaking pedants haven't already offered their services - but why would you want to correct them? It's harmless fun (albeit at the translator's expense), the point of the message is generally conveyed, and it's not often that you can go off to foreign lands and improve your English vocabulary.

But as much as I love Chinglish, this is probably one that should be corrected...

1 comment:

  1. I saw a Chinglish sign in front of a beauty salon in Bejing. It said "We try and make you as beautiful as necessary". Loved it.