fragrant and hot marxism

May 5, 2010

Apparently I failed to post this after I wrote it a few days ago.  Whoops.  Here you go.

Fragrant and hot what?  Yeah, not much point to this post here other than to share a particularly amusing article in today’s online NY Times: “Shanghai is Trying to Untangle the Mangled English of Chinglish.” Ostensibly it’s about an effort underway to make english signage in Shanghai a little bit more intelligible, but it provides some pretty hilarious examples of what they’re trying to clean up.  Never has the NY Times been so funny!  Since it’s a real newspaper and all, they go to a little more effort than engrish.com ever did at finding the cream of the crop.

If you want to skip the article and jump straight to photos of the offending (amusing) signage, here’s a link to the slideshow.  However, the article is well worth a read for a few more hidden gems, not to mention some absolutely ludicrous commentary from “experts” on “Chinglish.”  For instance,

Oliver Lutz Radtke, a former German radio reporter who may well be the world’s foremost authority on Chinglish, said he believed that China should embrace the fanciful melding of English and Chinese as the hallmark of a dynamic, living language. As he sees it, Chinglish is an endangered species that deserves preservation.

“If you standardize all these signs, you not only take away the little giggle you get while strolling in the park but you lose a window into the Chinese mind,” said Mr. Radtke, who is the author of a pair of picture books that feature giggle-worthy Chinglish signs in their natural habitat.

Riiiiiight.  I’m sure that’s exactly what everyone translating these signs is going for, that “window into the Chinese mind.”  And somehow, I get the feeling that “Chingrish” has about as much scholarly value as ebonics…meaning that it might be of interest to some linguists, but not so much to the rest of us.  Plus, nobody grows up speaking any kind of “Chingrish” dialect in their home, unlike ebonics and other non-standard American english dialects, so perhaps in that sense it’s of even less value than ebonics.  Less value than ebonics?  Folks, we have a winner.


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