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Friday, 6 December, 2002, 22:04 GMT
Beijing seeks to root out 'Chinglish'
Great Wall of China
Mis-spelt signs can be bemusing... and confusing
Officials in the Chinese capital, Beijing, have launched a campaign to root out English mis-spellings in public places, Chinese media has reported.

Embarrassed by literal clangers and poorly translated words, the city's tourist board is appealing to members of the public to inform authorities of any gaffes, the English-language China Daily said.


To take notice of safe, the slippery are very crafty

Sign warning of slippery road
"There are many 'Chinglish' words on road signs, public notices, menus and signs describing scenic spots, which often puzzle foreigners," said Xiong Yumei, vice-director of the Beijing Tourism Bureau.

The linguistic howlers range from unintelligible nonsense to sources of amusement for millions of foreign tourists who visit China each year.

Janet Clause, an Australian tourist, told the newspaper: "When I had dinner with my friends at a Chinese restaurant at the Temple of Heaven, it took us a while to realise that the 'crap' on the menu was, in fact, a mis-spelt but very tasty fish.

"The soft-fried 'pawns' are a sea food without 'r' and the bean eurd is, I presume, bean curd," she said.

Danger signs

The language barrier proved even more unfathomable on a visit to the Ming Tombs, a tourist attraction in Beijing.

Mao Zedong statue
Cultural differences have been blamed for the gaffes

"When I wanted to use the public loo I just followed the signs that said 'Collecting Money Toilet'," Ms Clause recalled.

Signs alerting tourists to potential dangers can also be a cryptic headache.

One such example warning of slippery roads read: "To take notice of safe, the slippery are very crafty".

A special panel of English professors and expatriates living in Beijing will review the tourist board's findings, the daily said.

Panel leader Chen Lin told the newspaper insufficient cultural exchanges between China and the West are partly to blame for the problem.

"Chinese people should learn more about the culture of Western countries, so that people can better study and use a foreign language."

See also:

14 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
05 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
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