– from http://www.cameraontheroad.com/
This evening I watched a program on TV narrating the story about David Tool, an American living in Beijing, who has been voluntarily correcting misleading English signs throughout the Chinese capital. Tool took the TV reporter around showing some “corrected” signs as well as hilarious “uncorrected” ones. For what he has been doing, Tool is awarded “top ten volunteer of 2006″ by the government becoming the first foreigner to claim the honor.
The face-lift of English signs is part of a giant pre-Olympic project of Chinese government. And it surely is much a bigger project that it sounds! Imagine how many signs should be corrected? Must be millions!
While we can get some giggles reading English signs in Chinglish* language, to be fair translating from one language to another is not always easy. Linguistic studies show us that a spectrum of world languages does exist. It’s easier to translate between languages in the same family. German and Dutch, Korean and Japanese, Spanish and Portuguese. Within the spectrum, obviously Chinese is located at the opposite end of English. Almost no similarities in any kind.
Imagine if all signs in the whole Tempe, AZ — which is much much smaller than Beijing — had to be translated into Chinese! We might come up with some crazily hilarious signs!
Anyway. This project is good for Beijing, but less amusing for us. And thus, after the 2008 Summer Olympics, my story below, unfortunately, would not make sense!!!
Before you go to China, in addition to some knowledge about “Forty Topping Tourist Attractions in China”, you better learn about some rules that you need to be aware of.
For example, on the streets of Beijing you are asked to pay attention to “please do not spit too loud”. In the meantime, some trash cans along the streets will remind you that “protect circumstance begins with me”. If you smork, please do it in a “smorking room” and should always throw your remnant to the “cigarette butt”. You also have to learn that in some places “speaking cellphone is strictly prohibited when thunderstorm”.
In the meantime, it’s comforting to find out that some people in Beijing like to keep you safe. This is evidenced in the existence of a road sign on Beijing’s Avenue of Eternal Peace warns of a dangerous pavement with the words: “to take notice of safe, the slippery are very crafty”. Even if you slipped, you are advised to “slip carefully”.
And if you stay in a hotel, you must be careful, don’t climb too much, because some “stains [are just] for staff”. Just in case, you weren’t careful and broke your glasses, in Beijing you can easily go to “glasses gotook” shop! If the accident were worse than broken glasses, then you can always run to “Beijing Women Hospital for all the world”. Btw, at the hotel, you will find out that you are suggested to “please take advantage of the chambermaids”.
Oh yeah, if you feel you want to hang out with other minority, you can always go to “Racist Park”. But watch out, “not in” the grass, OK? You, though, can litter down, or to the left, but please “do not litter up”.
If you need to buy some regular food and condiment, you can always go to super market and there you can buy “straight tea” — but don’t try if you’re not straight!–, “fuck the fresh fruit and vegetable”, and enjoy “flesh ice-cream”.
One fun thing that cannot be missed to do in China is of course to try Chinese restaurants. Don’t forget to try “government abuse chicken”, “chicken with sexual life”, “crap eggs with bamboo”, and “selected fresh crapmeat” !!!
p.s. Btw, if you are able to speak Indonesian you can check my similar entry on “no-what-what-lah” English
* Chinglish (slang) is a portmanteau of the words Chinese and English and refers to either (a) English interspersed with English language errors common to those Chinese persons who are learning English or (b) Chinese interspersed with English, such as used by westernized Chinese (e.g. American-born Chinese) who are not fluent in Chinese and codeswitch English words into speech when they can’t think of the correct Chinese word (Wikipedia, 2007).