What is Chinglish?

Dear Reader, I know that you came here to read about Chinese economy, but today I want to write about a seemingly unrelated issue. If you wish to read more about the economy please look through older

Chinglish. Everybody who has been to China knows what it is, but even those people who have not probably know about it too! In fact, Chinglish, or English in Chinese interpretation, or is not a phenomenon unique to China. It exists in other Asian countries, and non-English speaking countries. It may have other names like Engrish in Japan but the essence is the same. Chinese businesses, however, are especially eager to cater to foreign customers so practically all goods have instructions written in Chinglish.

Here are some graphic samples from my trips to China:

Chinglish, funny, Chinese business culture

I saw this sign on way too many toilets in China!

Chinglish, funny, Chinese cultural experience

All stairs have this sign.

Here are some equally hilarious verbal samples:

“Welcome to choose and buy the socks. It’s beautiful, it’s comfortable and the sizes are completely. Good luck to you!”

Or how about this sales pitch I found on my fake Puma shorts:

“So, you are interested in Puma? Nice move! You’re obviously smart and know what you want in life. You are no slave to the corporate fat-cats. You know the score, you call the shots! So buy this, it suits you!”

Self-assured by this passage, I turn the page and get a bit discouraged by a pie-chart titled “Research”:

“4% of people regularly read this stuff, 96% of people do something more important.”

“Do not touch with your figures or other roughness” warns me a sign on my goggles…

To wrap up, I’ll show you folks a poster with three dudes posing. That’s surely what it takes to come up with manuals like this!

There are endless examples of the wonderful Chinglish on billboards, menus, in supermarkets etc. But on a more serious note, Chinglish sends us an important message. China desperately needs non-Chinese speaking consumers to grow. Especially, given the turmoil in Europe and resulting slower growth worldwide. China still heavily depends on exports and will not depart from it in a short-term perspective.

Being a Chinese speaker myself, although non-native, I perfectly understand the difficulty Chinese people face while studying English and other foreign languages. We have to give them credit, Chinglish is becoming not so overwhelming, although it is probably never going to disappear. Actually, Chinglish is increasingly internationalizing. There are already abundant samples in other languages. My sweater, for instance, “no puede trabajur a maquina colade”. Not even sure, whether they tried to write it in Spanish or Portuguese (or both at once!), but clearly these guys are targeting some new markets.

I could continue on and on since Chinglish is inspiring but will reserve my energy for later. In my turn, I’d appreciate it if somebody could share some new Chinglish laughs!

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2 Responses to What is Chinglish?

  1. Ken says:

    “4% of people regularly read this stuff, 96% of people do something more important.”

    I’m going to use this as a put-down the next time some self-congratulating presenter cites percentage statistics at me.

  2. Ken says:

    My friend told me that the Chinese give some curiously strange titles to Hollywood movies. She saw the movie Elf on sale with a Chinglish title of “Curiously Flaccid.”

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