Thursday, July 05, 2007

Chinglish

I have told Jen that China needs a nationwide editor for English; it would be a lifetime job to edit all the signs, tourist markers, and tour books etc. Signs such as, “When 200 feet and notice rock falling, please run around cliff.” “Blind person manssage.” “Kunming machine photo splendid company.” In our hotel room, Robert and Jen tried to read the pictorial book, which was was basically a stringing together of English words that in combination had no meaning whatsoever. The further back in the book you went, the worse it was. Most people in China still do not have a conversational level of English. Their mandate for all cabdrivers in Beijing to be able to speak the language by 2008 will be a challenge to overcome. We read a story about one driver who has hundreds of common phrases translated phonemically into equivalent Chinese words. He can prattle off these phrases with ease, but has no comprehension of them at all. Ray’s company driver in Shanghai has acquired quite a vocabulary of English swear words from TV and movies that he proudly spouts, to which Ray has told him he needs to be careful what he is saying!

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