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Legislator Demands Chinese Accompany English Signs
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City managers should regulate public signs to give convenience to those confused by English-only information, a lawmaker said on the sidelines of the ongoing parliament session on Friday.


"Too many signs in public places carry only English information, leaving those who don't know the language puzzled and embarrassed, feeling like a foreigner in their homeland," complained Tu Yaqing, a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature.


Tu, a military researcher, said he is ready to submit a proposal on the compulsory use of Chinese on public signs, urging sign makers and those providing public information to abide by the country's law on language use.


"I'm not opposed to using foreign languages, but they can't replace Chinese," said Tu.


"Surrounded by the English language on billboards, guideposts, street nameplates, and traffic signs, sometimes we even cannot make out whether we are in China or a foreign country," Tu said.


The lawmaker cited the encounter of an old man he witnessed in Chongqing, who, after a painful search, finally found his way to a public toilet in a park but was dumbfounded at the English signs of "Men" and "Women."


"While the story may seem funny at first, don't take it as a joke! People are having similar experiences everywhere. Some English-only information on air tickets and receipts of supermarkets can mean trouble and frustration to non- English speakers," Tu said.


The lawmaker suggested the use of multiple languages on public signs to satisfy both locals and foreigners.


Nearly 3,000 NPC deputies gathered in Beijing for the annual full session of the national parliament, which opened on March 5 and is scheduled to last till March 16.


(Xinhua News Agency March 9, 2007)

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