Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Chinglish: Leaving Values Far Behind

Shanghai was an interesting choice of location for the FIT conference. I must say that China does not seem to be a country that places much emphasis on professional translations.

One of my particular interests is
bad menu translations. Here are a few of the items I saw in China:

beef pulls noodle

frying without adding anything shrimp

sheet iron Germany salty pig's hoof

liquor rice with mini-bums

the seafood is harsh

cowboy bone

fried how delicious crab

vegetarian ham

the tea tree mushroom roasts the winter bamboo shoot

syrup carbon fever pork

social beef

marinated three white

vermicille with wild fangs

soft-shelled turtled cooks ox whip

peaceful is big prawn

characteristic fish gluten

crab ovary

the chinese flowering quince the clam gentlemen frog

sichuan taste gluttonous frog

crosses the bridge spare ribs

pot pan

sandwich calcium cake

fragrant tasty entry

best tasty

high fly pizza

crystal-like cake

On tour buses, I repeatedly heard “Don’t leave your values on the bus.” And I saw the motto “We service you whole-heartedly” throughout the country. I just wonder if that whole-hearted service really extends to translation. I think many people in China left their translation skills on the bus.


Anonymous said...

I was recently in China and I was also surprised at just how bad some of the English was. Between all the Chinese people who must have surely grown up bilingual in America, as well as the British influence in Hong Kong and Singapore, you would think they should have access to a good pool of skilled Chinese-English translators.

B.J. Epstein said...

Thank you for your comment!
I tried to remember that China has only been more "open" for the past 20ish years, so their English skills are not quite up there with those in other nations, but I was still dismayed by the English. Even many of the Chinese volunteers at the international translation conference weren't so good at English!

Best wishes,

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Erika D. said...

BJ, I love your menu findings. They invariably make me laugh.

Anonymous said...

LOL about the bad menu translations!


Alba-translating.Ru said...

The worst thing is to translate from Chenglish.
Alexander -