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Chinglish Again, with an Explanation
originally posted September 09, 2009

I love seeing signs like this one, which I found at the top of the stairs at a Japanese restaurant downtown.  Unfortunately, the staff saw me take the picture, and asked why I was interested.  So this sign will probably be replaced.

"Beware of to Meet", Chinglish sign in a restaurant, Wuxi, China

The first two Chinese characters read 小心 xiǎo xīn (literally "small heart" but meaning be careful) so I can see where the "beware" came from.  The second two, 碰头 png tu, were a mystery until I consulted my dictionary and found that together they have three meanings - ①see each other ②meet and discuss; put heads together  ③hit one's head accidentally.  Obviously the sign's translator just chose the second definition when he should have read on to the third.
     Thinking about what we would put on the sign, it too sounds like Chinglish.  How on earth can one "watch your head".
     When I see a sign like this one, I know that it isn't alone.  It's one of thousands in a production run.  So even if this one disappears, there are others in restaurants all over China.  Someday they will be priceless collector's items,  a reminder of a less sophisticated but much more charming time.

originally posted May 3, 2009


Brand New Bund, Brand New Chinglish
originally posted April 14, 2010

They are dressing up Shanghai for Expo 2010, which opens in less than a month now.  Part of the beautification has been done on the famous Bund, the walk along the river.  It's been widened, and simplified to make a long pedestrian walkway. 

The newly renovated Bund, ready for Shanghai's Expo 2010.

And below is the sign directing tourists to the toilets.

Great fun showing students what "go backwards" means to a native speaker.  Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China

Amazing to me that, with all the native speakers in China now, they don't verify that a sign is correct BEFORE they pay to have it made, but I hope they never catch on.  I love the Chinglish.  It's one of the most entertaining aspects of China.

Cable car chinglish sign,  Lang Shan Park,  Nantong,  China
I'm posting this large enough for you to read,  because I think it's worth it. Will the joys of Chinglish ever wear thin?

Another of the mysteries of China.
We never did discover what we'd find at "the sloping of superscription"


I can see how this kind of thing can happen.  In Chinese,  one of the meanings of 地 (d - earth,  land,  soil) is "earth",  but it's also the first part of the word 地板 (d bǎn - literally "earth board") meaning "floor".  Still,  with a foreign language department here,  and all the foreigners around,  I wonder why they don't run their translations past a native speaker before ordering hundreds of signs.  Unless perhaps this just came from a catalogue,  and is in hotel rooms all over China.
     Whatever the source,  I think Chinglish is part of the charm of this country,  and I hope the translations aren't corrected anytime soon.


What on earth is a "Straining Membrane Rest Area"?                            Oh,  of course.

I can never get over the amount of English here.  Metro,  big box store,  Wuxi,  China


Bad English is not just a Chinese problem.
This is from Vietnam.


Something clean is okay?


Well,  tell it like it is I suppose.

Chinglish sign Wuxie Scenic Area,  Zhejiang Province, China
Uh.... huh?

Chinglish carved on a stone Wuxie Scenic Area,  Zhejiang Province, China
"Electromobile station" ?  Chinglish carved in stone

Chinglish beside  Shanghu Lake,  Jiangsu,  China
I've never been told not to frolic before,  but I suppose this is good advice.

More Chinglish to be Added as I find it in my Archives
or in China

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