Signs of panic over 'Chinglish' in Beijing
By Aislinn Simpson Last Updated: 12:01am BST 19/03/2008
Foryears, badly translated signs have had the Englishman abroad institches. But for tourism officials in Beijing, a city preparing forthe arrival of millions of visitors for the Olympic Games in August,the problem is far from funny.
The Beijing Municipal Tourism Bureau has hired English linguists to eradicate "Chinglish" from signs and shop fronts.
Ithas also instructed the city's 4,000 unrated hotels to translate theirnames, service hours, room rates, menus and notices into accurateEnglish.
Restaurateurs have been given a list ofthe proper English names for the most commonly mistranslated items,including "virgin chicken" for a young chicken dish, "steamed crap"instead of crab, and "burnt lion's head" describing Chinese porkmeatballs.
"These translations either scare orembarrass foreign customers and may cause misunderstanding on China'sdiet habits," the state news agency said.
Some ofthe signs have been celebrated on websites and books, including onesign that greets Western visitors to a café with the words: "Welcomebig nose friends" and another for the Tibetan "Reception Centre for theUnorganised Tourists".
English speakers in Beijinghave been invited to visit "Racist Park" - more accurately translatedas the Park of Ethnic Minorities - and warned to take care on wet roadsas "the slippery are very crafty".
Doug Lansky, anAmerican travel writer, said part of the charm of the directtranslations - such as signs on lawns pleading "don't walk on me" - wasthat they revealed the Chinese way of viewing the world. "On one hand Ican understand why they are doing it - they don't want people makingfun of their language skills or culture, but on the other hand, it's areal shame," he said.
"The travelling experience should be a little bit quirky, and throw people off balance a bit."