Wednesday, September 23, 2009

China Exclusive: Chinglish, love it or hate it

BEIJING, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- "I like your smile, but unlike you put your shoes on my face". A charming way of saying "Keep off the grass". But could you figure it out? Or this: "Wash Clothing Store" for laundry.
They are both typical Chinglish, a combination of English vocabulary and Chinese grammar. Expressions such as "people mountain people sea", means extremely crowded, and "give you some color to see", meaning a punishment, are widely known and recognized.
Chinglish has been attracting global attention in recent years as China grows rapidly in stature on the world stage, attracting both fans and detractors.
The Beijing Speaks Foreign Languages Programme and English First China Company, a language trainer known as EF Education, jointly launched a campaign to root out poor grammar and misused vocabulary in downtown Beijing on Tuesday. They argue Chinglish is an embarrassment that must be wiped out at all costs.
"EF Education is very happy to be able to help regulate English logos on the streets of Beijing", said Michael Lu, vice-president of EF Education. "And it is meaningful, to allow the capital show its most beautiful historical and cultural heritage to the world."
He said, since the launching of the campaign, foreign teachers and students had been very keen to volunteer participation.
Michael Lu said he believed signs were very important in public services. "The signs in some old buildings confused foreign visitors, such as "Cherish Environment".
Chinglish, although the target of much criticism, has also won supporters who regard it as an interesting way for foreigners to learn how Chinese people think and express themselves.
"Many Chinglish logos carry Chinese elements and they will enrich the English language," 32-year-old Oliver Radtke said.
The German multimedia producer has been focusing on written examples of the lingo on signboards, menu cards and shop fronts. He had even published a book "Chinglish: Found in Translation," on the subject. About 50,000 copies of the book have been sold since it was published in 2007.
His first encounter with Chinglish was in a cab in Shanghai back in 2000. He saw a curious note reading "Don't forget to carry your thing".
He is convinced that the notion of one single, standard version of English is outdated because "it now boasts more than one billion regular users worldwide, and the number of people speaking it as their second language is growing rapidly."
Radtke's opinion is echoed by other fans of Chinglish.
"Some Chinglish is simply wonderful and displays a poetic side that is far better than admonitory signs in my own country," said an English teacher in Beijing using only his first name Mal in Radtke's blog.
Some Chinese university experts also side with Chinglish. "English has absorbed elements from other languages such as Frenchand Spanish in its growth, and the emergence of Chinglish again testifies to the language's vitality and inclusiveness," said Shi Anbin, an associate professor with the journalism and communication school of Tsinghua University. Enditem

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