Tolerance to Chinglish is an educational deficiency

By Chunyu Jinzhang
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, October 16, 2009
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As is known to everybody, Chinglish usually stems from the English language deficiency of many Chinese people. Chinglish is so common in China that it is almost impossible not to see a public sign written in awkward English when traveling in China. Although unnoticed by people with little or no knowledge of English, the rampant use of Chinglish makes the English-literate people in China feel ashamed.

The name of the Beijing National Park was once translated into Beijing Racial Park, which made foreigners feel afraid to step in. Many beautiful scenic spots in China have been marred by various signs written in wrong and ridiculous English. Two Chinglish slogans containing nine grammatical mistakes that hung over the gate of a famous middle school in Qingdao were once reported in a newspaper, triggering heated debates among the local people. Such examples of poor English have been taken as language examples for thousands of students to learn from everyday.

Sadly, what is inscrutable is that some Chinglish supporters have developed a strange taste for this type of poor English. They know clearly that such language cannot be regarded as English at all, but they deliberately take the other people's mistakes as entertainment. Even worse, they appeal on the Internet for preservation of Chinglish signs.

We cannot but hold that such behavior is actually a violation of the pure English language. It is also a kind of disrespect for international tourists. As English signs in China are mainly used to give information or instruction to foreign visitors, the quality of the English therein is much related to the quality of our service and our national image.

Over the past decades, the Chinese government has been advocating the purity and standardization of the Chinese language and even promulgated a decree for that purpose in 2001. Recently, some Chinese experts planned to revise some Chinese characters. However, they did not expect that protests from all walks of life in China would be so strong as to make their work seem like a fool's errand. What would Chinese people think if some English speakers wanted to revise our Chinese language simply because it does not conform to English language customs?

The Chinglish supporters argue that some foreign experts sing the praises of Chinglish and think that it amuses people. Friends, don't take it as a real praise to us. It's actually more like cracking a joke on us. It is either their condescension or tolerance for our English language fabrications with Chinese characteristics, which in fact are neither fish nor fowl.

After watching the CCTV English Speaking Contest, some foreign experts ironically suggested that the contest be renamed American Speaking Contest, as the contest followed the American rather than the English standard. As an analogy, if signs were written in English while using Chinese word order regardless of English grammar and idioms, they would undoubtedly be a manifestation of ignorance and educational deficiency. Chinglish is also a breach from the aesthetic and cultural value that people want the signs to provide.

It should be an educational principle for people to pursue the purity and standardization of a language that they learn. Unfortunately, many people still cherish the idea that it's not important for people learning English to have a good command of its standards as long as they can speak and write it. But how can people understand each other without a standard? And what's the meaning in people learning non-standard English?

Influenced by misconceptions such as "save Chinglish" and "English shouting," English education in China has already derailed from the standard track and gotten lost, deep in great disorder.

In order to provide foreigners with a good service of standard English signs, to create a clean land of tourist culture, to respect the purity of English as an internationally used language and to enhance our national image, all the educated people in China should have a clear standpoint and fight mercilessly against Chinglish. Like the Beijing Olympic Games, the Shanghai 2010 World Expo which we will host is another major international event that requires us to standardize our use of the English language.

Mr. Chun Yu Jinzhang, president of a well-known stationary company in China, has been working as an amateur teacher of English for over 30 years and is the first man in China to promote the Queen's English.

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