Sunday, April 22, 2007

Chinglish on NPR

NPR did a great story last week about the crackdown on Chinglish Beijing is trying to do for the Olympics next year. It's a great story, and is right on with the situation all over China. You can listen to the story here.

They point out some really great common mistakes made here such as menu's misspelling 'carp' as 'crap', and 'Mouth Watering Chicken' as 'Saliva Chicken'. My favorite one that I hadn't heard of was the naming of a museum about China's national minorities as "Racist Park".

This is necessary for the development of the country, and is certainly a pride issue since so many foreigners have laughed to tears upon seeing some of these translations. However, I must admit that in a way I'm very sad to see them go. First of all, (quite selfishly) because I enjoy them so much. But second of all, it seems to me that so much is being done in Beijing to sweep things under the rug or whitewash problems, I feel that people coming to the Olympics will certainly not see this country the way it really is. I'm certainly all for the development of China (in a responsible manner) and a better life for its residents, but sometimes I wonder how much can fit under the bed when mom comes in to see if we've cleaned our room.

I Want My Coke, and I Want It Now.

I have made a startling, yet indisputable observation recently: Chinese people are clearly not as evolved as Americans. While some of you may be appalled that a seemingly innocuous blog has just made the leap into controversial subjects such as racial supremacy and the origins of the universe, I promise you I have proof. Chinese people's mouths have not evolved to the size of that of a (fully evolved) American's. In comparison, their mouths are considerably smaller.

The most obvious downside to this is the speed at which one can consume chemical-flavored sugar water from an aluminum can. While the American, with his highly evolved mouth, can drink at speeds reaching nearly 3oz/sec, the Chinese are still drinking at a paltry 1oz/sec. (Fig. A). That means they have to wait an average of three times as long to consume their favorite beverage!

(Fig. A)

They have no idea what they're missing.

Drinks Aftertaste

Nothing too special here. Just wanted to share some new signs and T-shirt with you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Pregnant Woman Button

I took an overnight bus ride to Hong Kong last week. The bus is always a bit of an adventure since it's pretty crowded and you never know exactly what you're in for. You get a bed that's just wide enough for someone with a body size like mine to fit snugly between the metal bars of your bed on either side. There's three rows of beds in the bus, and they're stacked two beds high. It's a bit of hassle because everyone must take off their shoes and socks before getting on the bus. Fortunately, I've caught a bit of athletes foot and so I was able to stink up the entire bus with the lovely smell of my feet.

When you lie down in the bed, which is tilted at about a 25 degree angle, you have a good foot or two above your head before the bunk or ceiling above you starts. On this ceiling above you is a vent with broken controls that spews freezing cold air at you, two different light buttons which do not work, and a new, amazing 'mystery' button that I've never seen before. It was amazing. It was a picture, drawn in the man/woman toilet picture fashion of having a human silhouette created out of geometric shapes. But this one was different. It looked like either a very fat, or pregnant woman. Her torso was completely round, so it looked to me more like a pregnant woman than a fat one. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me so I couldn't take a picture. Thinking quickly, I grabbed one of my journals and did a quick sketch of what the button looked like so I wouldn't forget. Now that I'm back at my computer, I've tried using my extremely limited artistic abilities to recreate this button for you. I know it looks funny and distorted, but I assure you the real button on the bus looked extremely similar to this.

After sketching the picture and having a good chuckle to myself, my mind was flooded with curiosity. "What in the world could this button be?" Could it be a button for the bus attendant, like in a plane? If so, why was the woman in the picture fat? To be honest she wouldn't be able to fit down the claustrophobic aisles of the bus. The only thing I could come to the conclusion was that it was for if you were pregnant, and currently needed to give birth. You could press the button, and the bus driver would stop the bus, deliver your baby, and then continue. At this point, I couldn't resist the temptation to press the button to see what happened. I began to press it repeatedly. But alas, like every other button above me, it was to no avail. I was neither greeted with a perfectly round woman with a beverage nor someone to aid me birthing a child. I laid back down, disappointed, and tried to sleep.

Accompany the Kidney

I've been traveling the last week or so, and of course traveling means new places. New places means new signs, and new signs mean new hilarious Chinglish. A couple of these are from last semester, so they might be repeats if you happened to see the DVD when I was in the states. Nevertheless, here they are in all their glory:

Where exactly would you like me to accompany the kidney to?

I can actually read the Chinese on the one on the left. I think the translation should say 'Vegetarian food', but even still, it's not very descriptive. As for the 'Sea Kelp in Belting', I have no idea.

I believe to cook this dish, they first made vegetarian pasta (out of soy of course), and then extracted the intestines. Once again the Chinese isn't really helpful here either. The literal translation would be 'Noodle intestines'.

These two were found on the urinals of two different restrooms:

It's pretty amazing that the Chinese actually should say 'Please rinse out the sink after you throw up'. I should remind you that this was not at a bar, but a seafood restaurant. Perhaps they count on many people drinking the 130-proof 'baijiu' (rice alcohol) that's so popular in this country.

Mmm...I can always go for a nice heaping bowl of 'Giv-ling-goo'.

I have no idea why the English does not read 'Passion Fruit Coffee' and 'Ice Cream Coffee' as it should.

Don't eat here. Leermei's food is a sham.

This one's a bit hard to make out, but it says 'JAPAN honored guest bathefinland'

If you find as much strange pleasure in these signs as I do, I've recently discovered It's a collection of poor English signs from Japan, and contains hundreds more than I could ever hope to collect on my blog. (I have found that when these signs come from Japan they're called 'Engrish'.)