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Shanghai Signboards Call for Chinese
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A regulation will soon be introduced in Shanghai requiring all foreign commercial signboards to be also written in Chinese.

Walk along the city's Huaihai Road and you are confronted by such names as "Zara,""Deli France," "Starbucks" and many others. Even the nearby bar area of Xintiandi has a proliferation of foreign names.

"The all-English signboards are catering to a false admiration for anything Western. Some people tend to think it's a high-end shop if the name is written in a foreign language," said Huang Anjing, an editor of a local monthly journal, Yaowen Jiaozi, which intends to promote correct use of the Chinese language.

"I would say it's understandable, as Shanghai is very cosmopolitan, very international, but still, it does not seem proper.

"We are in China, and the Chinese language should be used in public places," Yaowen said.

"You find new estate projects named 'Venice Sunshine' or 'Thames Town. 'You would think you were living in a foreign country, I don't think this is good."

However, others seem to differ.

"Most of our customers are regulars, and most are foreign," said a staff member at O'Malley's, an Irish pub in Shanghai. "We have used the English name for many years. It has never been a problem."

Many young people, in reply to a message on the online bulletin board, said foreign language signboards do not bother them.

However, some give rise to unintentional jokes because of the misuse of the language. A signboard on a Nanjing Road shop reads: "Like a Blackman Dancer." It sells hip-hop style clothing. Another says: "I Sell Bags!!!"

To cater to Chinese customers, some shops are starting to use Chinese on their signboards.

"We put a Chinese sounding translation of our name on the signboard," the manager of Barbarossa, surnamed Zhang, said. The Moroccan-style bar and lounge used to be patronized only by foreigners, but it now attracts more Chinese customers.

"We think it would be unfair to our Chinese customers if our signboard was only in English," Zhang said.

A new regulation is being studied by the city's food and beverage industry, together with the Shanghai Normal University, requiring all foreign signboards to have Chinese names, according to Shanghai Morning Post.

(China Daily April 24, 2007)

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