Page last updated at 00:01 GMT, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 01:01 UK

Shanghai seeks end to 'Chinglish'

By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Shanghai

Sign in Beijing (file image)
Examples of often baffling Chinglish can be found across Shanghai

The authorities in the Chinese city of Shanghai are starting a campaign to try to spot and correct badly phrased English on signs in public places.

Chinglish, as the inaccurate use of the language is known, has long been a source of embarrassment for the authorities there.

It is also a source of amusement to foreign visitors.

But Shanghai wants to spruce up its image. It is expecting millions of visitors for the World Expo fair.

Student volunteers will check the English on signs throughout the city.

If they suspect the translation is less than accurate they will inform the government. Then the bureaucrats will request that whoever is responsible corrects the mistake.

You can find Chinglish all over the city. Often it can be blamed on software used to translate Chinese automatically.

Please bump your head carefully
Sign in hotel lift

Sometimes you can see what the author was getting at, such as the sign that warns people to "keep valuables snugly", and "beware the people press close to you designedly".

Then there are signs where they have mistranslated a crucial word.

One in a hotel lift advises people "please leave your values at the front desk".

Sometimes they have just got it the wrong way round, such as on the sign in the stairwell of a department store asking shoppers to "please bump your head carefully".

My favourites though, are those which get more surreal, like the one on the Shanghai metro from the public security bureau that reads: "If you are stolen, call the police at once."

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