China has launched a program to ban unintelligible English in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Chinglish has become a running joke among many foreigners in China, and many websites have been set up listing humorous examples of the mistranslation.
A road sign in China warns people to be careful and not to fall into the river with the words: “Carefully fall to the river”.
Menus frequently list items such as “Living to fry the beef rice”, “Butter many Privates” and “Bureau minced meat idea powder”.
There are a lot of mistranslations in China as many Chinese words express concepts obliquely and can be interpreted in multiple ways with different meanings, making translation a vipers’ pit for non-English speakers.
The municipal government in Beijing first tried to face up to the problem just a month after being awarded the 2008 Olympics back in 2001. The Beijing Tourism Bureau also set up a hotline for visitors and residents to tip off examples of bad English, and said results would be reviewed by a panel of English professors.
With the 2008 Beijing Olympics are just around the corner, it is difficult to get all people with good English and to have all signs properly translated.
However, please believe me, China is improving rapidly. The new China is coming.