(English phrases which are often badly phrased on signs in public places and other media)

Shanghai and Chinese officials strive to end "Chinglish"

Authorities in the Chinese city of Shanghai are starting a campaign to try to spot and correct badly phrased English on signs in public places.

Chinglish is defined as the inaccurate use of the language and has long been a source of embarrassment for the authorities there.

In May, 2010, the New York Times reported on Shanghai's efforts to clean up its Chinglish before the 2010 Expo by removing "fatso" and "lard bucket" tags from extra-large clothes, and "Teliot" and "urine district" signs from public toilets.

It is also a source of amusement for foreign visitors; however, Shanghai wanted to improve its image.

Chinglish is found all over the city and it is blamed on the software that is used to translate Chinese automatically.

Examples include:

  • "Please bump your head carefully" seen on a sign in a hotel elevator.
  • "Keep valuables snugly."
  • "Beware the people press close to you designedly."
  • "Please leave your values at the front desk"; as seen in a hotel elevator instead of saying ". . . leave your valuables at the front desk".
  • "Please bump your head carefully", a sign in the stairway of a department store.
  • "If you are stolen, call the police at once" on a Shanghai metro from the public security bureau.
  • "For your safety and environ metal protection, please do not throw food, coins and garbaye into the Li River." Sign by the River Li.
  • "French Brand for men' swear"; sign on store in Shanghai.
  • Sign meaning: "Keep off the grass": "I like your smile, but unlike you put your shoes on my face."
  • "Slip and fall down carefully."
—Compiled from
"Shanghai seeks end to 'Chinglish' "; Story from BBC News;
by Chris Hogg, BBC News, Shanghai; Published August 25, 2009.

China has banned newspapers, publishers, and website-owners from using foreign words; particularly English ones.

China's state press and publishing body said such words were sullying the purity of the Chinese language.

It stated that standardized Chinese should be the norm: the press should avoid foreign abbreviations and acronyms, as well as "Chinglish" (which is a mix of English and Chinese).

The order also extends such existing warnings as those which are applied to radio and TV.

China's General Administration of Press and Publication said that with economic and social development, foreign languages were increasingly being used in all types of publications in China.

The People's Daily newspaper also stated that such use had "seriously damaged" the purity of the Chinese language and that it resulted in "adverse social impacts" on the cultural environment.

If words must be written in a foreign language, an explanation in Chinese is required, the state body said.

—Compiled from
"China bans English words in media" by BBC News Asia-Pacific;
December 21, 2010.

See more topics of interest at this INDEX of Words at Work in the Media.