The spread of English… or Chinglish in China

A recent NY Times article details the spread of Chinglish in Shanghai. The article goes on to explore the efforts by an army of linguists to correct and replace signage that could be considered embarrassing.

The effort is headed by the Shanghai Commission for the Management of Language Use. Over the last two years the group along with 600 volunteers has been trying to rid the streets of Shanghai from silly, vague and downright incorrect signage in preparation for Expo 2010.

Some of the more interesting signs include:

– Cash recycling (ATMs at Banks)

– Fatso or Lard Bucket (Extra-Large)

– Dongda Anus Hospital (Dongda Proctology Hospital)

– Racist Park (A park that has since been renamed Minorities Park)

Restaurants have featured items like:

– Fried enema

– Monolithic tree mushroom stem squid

This topic reminds me of a typo on an expensive sign I found at a trade show in Chicago this past fall. Needless to say, these types of translations came from poorly qualified translators or perhaps even machine translation. A linguist who speaks the native language (in this case a qualified Chinese to English translator) provided with the proper context would prevent this sort of thing from occurring.