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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   2 min read

As universal as English may be, it only takes you so far. As a traveller in China you’re left to decipher the “Chinglish” translations on signs all on your own. While Shanghai is trying to clean up its mis-translated signs, you can still find them in abundance all over the country!

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What is Chinglish?

Chinglish refers to written or spoken English that has been mis-translated from Chinese and is often ungrammatical, even nonsensical for native English speakers. A lot of the time the meaning is completely lost in the Chinese context.

Can you decipher what some of these signs are supposed to say?


Imgs: 1-3, 5, 7: Brett Wines / 4, 6: Oliver Lutz Radtke / 9: Jackson Lowen / 10: jimmiehomeschoolmom / 11: nh53 / 12: konghatald / 13: okeos / 14: photoann / 15: chinesegary

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4 responses to “The best of “Chinglish”

  1. I'm glad to hear that, as I do honestly think that Chinglish can show how beautiful the Chinese language is. English so rarely delivers a message in that way, except in creative writing.

  2. You're certainly right about some being much more poetic than simply “Stay off the grass.” While Beijing has been making a conscious effort recently to clean up their “Chinglish” I don't think it will ever disappear completely.

  3. I truly hope they take a measured approach to tackling Chinglish. I absolutely agree that when it comes to safety signs, such as “shark infested waters” or something similar, that's when you bring in a professional translation agency. That's not debatable.

    On the other hand, I for one don't want to see “Tender, fragrant grass. How hard-hearted to trample” get replaced with “Keep off the grass”. Some examples of Chinglish simply aren't gibberish, they're just giving you the same message in a different way. It's certainly far more poetic.

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