We’ve discovered yet another humorous book many of our readers may want to add to their collections. It’s called Chinglish: Lost in Translation (Gibbs Smith), a hysterical photo book loaded with images of so-called Chinglish signs. The author, Oliver Lutz Radtke traveled the provinces of China capturing images of Chinglish signs, bill boards, placards, menus, and documents.
Chinglish, for the uninitiated, is an English language slang term, used to describe English interspersed with Chinese language errors common to those Chinese speaking persons who have yet to master English. According to Radtke, “Chinglish is very often funny because of the sometimes scarily direct nature of the new meaning produced by the translation. A ‘deformed man toilet’ in Shanghai or an “anus hospital” is funny because it instantly destroys linguistic euphemisms we Westerners have carefully built up when talking about sensitive topics. Chinglish annihilates these conventions right away. Chinglish is right in your face.”
A thoughtfully written forward by Susian Stahle, a Chinese language researchers at Heidleberg University, Institute of Chines Studies, helps explain the reasons why Chinglish exists.
We’re glad Radtke took the time to document these images. They may not be around for long, if the Chinese government has anything to say about it. In preparation for the upcoming 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing has harnessed a huge workforce whose job it is to erradicate Chinglish from the capital, and eventually, from all of China.