Not For All The Tea In China

A blog describing the idiosyncracies of working and teaching in China and life on a day to day basis. With stories of unbelievable stupidity and outright ripping off of foreigners.



Sunday, December 24, 2006

Lost in translation

In China they do try to translate a lot of things into English, to be fair it is China and not England, America or Canada. The problem is they are just so bad at it. One problem is that they think they can translate the exact sentence structure from Chinese into English, this results in something they call 'Chinglish', or 'Chinese English'.

Sometimes the translations are reasonable as in 'spaghetti' which in Chinese is 'Itali Mien', exactly 'Italian noodles', and so no matter how many times you tell students to call it spaghetti they still say 'Italian Noodles'.

It's true the Chinese goverment are really trying to make most cities 'English friendly', especially in Beijing, but the big problem is that they get Chinese people to translate from Chinese into English the street signs and advertisements and so on. Even the English exams in China have been created by Chinese people. The problem is they really mess it up. For example I've seen some of the multiple choice exams and sometimes 3 out of the 4 answers are right; if I can't get the exam right how the hell is a Chinese person supposed to.

My favourite street sign in beijing has a translation exactly as follows: 'be careful the rise, the slippery are very crafty', this is actually a warning sign for a slope with a slight incline. Near my house there is a sign by a bank with the English 'no tweeting', presumably this is specifically for the birds, it's nice to know in China even the birds have to learn English, or perhaps it's directed towards the 'foreign' birds.

In one of the local restaurants you can take a look at a picture menu with English words, but try as you might it's difficult to choose between the 'Beacon Sandwich'(bacon) or 'Arsnic with mixed vegetables'(no idea). Everyday day you can see bad English everywhere, to be honest it's actually one of the major foreign forms of entertainment. At other times it's just simply the right English but in the wrong place. This is particularly common with fake DVD's. In China fake DVD's have the cover and everything, even when the film has only just come out; someone basically knocks up the cover with photoshop with random English unrelated to the actual film. A prime example and my all time favorite was 'shindlers list' with the quotation "I laughed so hard I nearly fell off my chair....".

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