What strikes foreign visitors the most in Beijing may not be the
interesting customs, unique architecture and enticing dishes, but
the Chinglish on signs.
China Centennial Altar is a landmark building completed in 1999
to greet the new millennium. However, a name plate near the front
door reads "China Centennial Temple" and another sign about 50
meters away confidently offers "China Centennial Monument."
Some menus of Chinese dishes are also confusing. The "Italian
spaghetti" is translated into "ideas' powder," which derives from
the literal translation of the Chinese name.
A thick wheat-based noodle in Japanese cuisine is literally
translated according to the Chinese name into "fry the dark winter
in the sun's way," which makes no sense at all.
To Jill, an Australian student in Beijing, the Chinglish
translations she has collected serve as a chronic laughing
"It is not too difficult for the foreigners who know some
Chinese to understand the Chinglish although the translations are
very funny," said Jill, who has taken almost 100 pictures of the
In addition, some English translations seem horrible. In a
restaurant menu, the name of a dish made of young chicken is
translated into "young chicken without sex," which makes foreign
The signboard of a small noodle restaurant near the Beijing West
Railway Station reads "face powder restaurant," because the two
Chinese characters of "noodle" in a whole can be separately
translated to "face" and "powder."
Seeing the translation on the sign, a foreigner named David said
he would not eat there. He said, "I feel horrible!"
English language is catching on in China. About 250 million
Chinese people are learning English as a second language, according
to an estimation of the organizers of the Beijing Speaks Foreign
Languages Program, which is working hard to ensure all of Beijing's
English signs are grammatically correct and free of "Chinglish" by
the end of 2007.
(Xinhua News Agency April 7, 2007)