Beijing getting rid of badly translate signs

Updated: 2007-02-27 09:15

Work has begun to ensure all of Beijing,s signs are grammatically correct and free of "Chinglis" by the end of 2007, before hordes of foreign visitors arriving in town for the 2008 Summer Olympics, yesterday's China Youth Daily reported.

"We have worked out 4,624 pieces of standard English translations to substitute the Chinglish ones on signs around the city," said Lu Jinlan, head of the organizing committee of the Beijing Speaks Foreign Languages Program (BSFLP).

The committee plans to focus on improving English menus after the English translations of signs are all corrected.

Lu admitted that the committee faced many difficulties in consigning Chinglish to history, particularly in correcting the English translations used by private businesses.

For years, foreigners in China have delighted in the loopy English translations that appear on the nation's signs. They range from the offensive -- "Deformed Man," outside toilets for the handicapped -- to the sublime -- "Show Mercy to the Slender Grass," on park lawns.

Ten teams of linguistic monitors have patrolled the city's parks, museums, subway stations and other public places searching for gaffes to fix.

The city has replaced thousands of road signs that carried bewildering admonitions such as: "To take notice of safe: The slippery are very crafty." (Translation: Be careful, road slippery.) Replacing signs is expected to cost the city a substantial amount of money.

The sign initiative is the latest of a campaign to improve English translations in public. The BSFLP is headed by Chen Lin, an elderly language professor who acts as its language police chief.

"We want everything to be correct. Grammar, words, culture, everything," says Professor Chen. "Beijing will have thousands of visitors coming. We don't want anyone laughing at us."

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