Wednesday, May 5, 2010

China continues its assault on Chinglish

Previously it was the Brits who were all over Chinglish, and now the New York Times has it's own coverage in an article entitled "Shanghai Is Trying to Untangle the Mangled English of Chinglish".

While I've already aired my fondness for Chinglish in my earlier post on the topic, the New York Times had a few interesting bits.

First, Oliver Lutz Radtke, the guy behind the The Chinglish Files blog, is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Chinglish. (!!)

Second, at the bottom of my earlier post on China's campaign against Chinglish, you'll find a picture showing the vulgar results of an attempt to translate the Chinese for "dried fruit" into English. I noted earlier that that might be a fake, but the New York Times appears to confirm its authenticity:
Those who study the roots of Chinglish say many examples can be traced to laziness and a flawed but wildly popular translation software. Victor H. Mair, a professor of Chinese at the University of Pennsylvania, said the computerized dictionary, Jingshan Ciba, had led to sexually oriented vulgarities identifying dried produce in Chinese supermarkets…
Lastly, the article notes the origin of the English term "long time no see" in the Chinese term 好久不见 hǎo jiǔ bù jiàn, which quite literally says "long time so see" (see here). I've been asked by Chinese-speaking English learners how to say that term in English, and they've thought that I was kidding when I said the otherwise grammatically incorrect "long time no see". But, sure enough, "long time no see", together with "look-see", "no can do", and "no-go", all come from Chinese Pidgin English (more on that here and here), which apparently was like the great-granddaddy of Chinglish.

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