Shanghai wages war on Chinglish signs

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 August, 2009, 12:00am

For a city preparing to host the World Expo, signs on wet pavements warning pedestrians to 'be careful of the slip' simply won't do.

Starting next month, Shanghai will launch a campaign to clamp down on Chinglish in public signage.

Municipality authorities have recently issued a new set of English translation standards that will cover 10 areas such as public transport, hospitals, tourist spots and restaurants.

The standards, released by the city's language work committee, are now under public consultation and will be finalised early next month.

Chinglish has long been a source of embarrassment for Shanghai ... and amusement for foreign visitors. Despite numerous attempts to stamp it out, it has proved a tough dragon to slay for municipal officials.

Mistranslated words are all over the city, especially on road signs, public notices, restaurant menus and scenic spots. On the notice outside the Oriental Pearl Tower, the city's most famous tourist spot, one item reads: 'Prohibit carrying animals and the articles which disturb common sanitation (including the peculiar smell of effluvium).'

At another popular spot, Yu Garden, tourists are bound to be confused by signs that point to both 'Yu Yuan Garden' and 'Yu Garden'.

After the standards are finalised, student volunteers will be sent to spot poorly translated signs in public areas and a website will be launched to collect complaints, the Shanghai Daily has reported. If incorrect translations are discovered, officials will order the responsible departments to make a change.

The report said the government would only 'encourage' the use of the standards, but departments that failed to get their translations right would not be punished.

Beijing made a similar effort last year ahead of the Olympics. Some of the most infamous examples of Chinglish, such as the road sign leading to 'Racist Park' (Ethnic Minorities Park), were changed, but Chinglish remains a common sight.