Beijing is once again cracking down on public signs with mistranslated English phrases before the city hosts the 2022 Winter Olympics, just as it did for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
The municipal foreign affairs office has already vetted over 2 million Chinese characters on signs and notices.
Most of these signs are a result of using the Internet to translate between Chinese and English, which often results in literal meanings.
On social media, some people said they would miss seeing the funny signs around.
Vising a park in Beijing? Remember to fall into the water carefully.
— BICC Mandarin School (@biccchina) March 21, 2018
While it’s not uncommon to find poorly-translated signs across the Chinese capital, these examples are exactly what the municipal government of Beijing is racing to fix before the city plays host to the 2022 Winter Olympics, state news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday (Dec 4).
Much like in the lead up to the 2008 Olympics, Beijing is once again trying to correct the city’s many mistranslated English signs before thousands of visitors descend – and inevitably take pictures.
— Derek Freal (@the_HoliDaze) September 22, 2016
— Matthew Stinson (@stinson) October 21, 2018
Beijing airport loo: I do like toilets that make me feel “relieved.” 🙂 Thank you Chinglish. pic.twitter.com/f21Fz31QQm
— Didi Kirsten Tatlow (@dktatlow) June 24, 2016
— Neela Eyunni (@neelaeyunni) November 25, 2014
In 2007, the municipal government introduced a local standard for English translations in public, and the Beijing Tourism Bureau launched a hotline for people to tip off government officers to bad English translations on public signs, China Daily reported.
— David Feng (@DavidFeng) September 8, 2016
This time, Beijing’s foreign affairs office is sending staff on hunts for these erroneous signs in city areas, Xinhua said.
We must be in an exceptionally “dangerous” part of Beijing… With wet floors that can trigger Chinglish landslides…! pic.twitter.com/wjlSuTYOl6
— David Feng (@DavidFeng) May 5, 2014
— David Feng (@DavidFeng) January 10, 2017
The Chinese government – which voiced concerns that these signs could jeopardise the country’s image – implemented a set of standardised national translations for signs from Chinese to English last December.
Since then, Beijijng’s foreign affairs office has vetted over 2 million Chinese characters on signs and notices, Xinhua said.
Since March, it has also hired experts to run translation checks on signs in the central business district, international hotels, schools and hospitals.
Other programmes include training English-proficient students from Beijing Language and Culture University to take photos and record down signs, which are then sent back to a translation team in the university for review.
Beijing foreign affairs office vice head Zhang Qian told Xinhua that signs put up by private businesses are often wrong because their owners often get a quick translation from the Internet.
Awesome Chinglish at Beijing Airport. I think they mean ‘filter coffees’ pic.twitter.com/HpoWlwt8
— Tim Soutphommasane (@timsout) December 2, 2012
This can result in awkward verbatim translations, which do not account for polysemantic Chinese words (words that have multiple meanings).
— The Star (@staronline) June 23, 2017
— Andrew Evans (@WheresAndrew) October 19, 2012
The foreign affairs office also set up a website for the public to report erroneously translated signs, with top participants rewarded with RMB30 (US$4.36) of phone bill credit.
But it looks like some English speakers don’t mind the signs – and will even miss the occasional laugh they bring.
— Sean Keeley (@seanrkeeley) June 22, 2017
They can change some of those mild ones, but tbey should keep those wild mistakes
— 老李 (@real_zhaorong) December 6, 2018
Already on it :).
— MuseumOfChinglish (@chinglishmuseum) December 5, 2018