The Nanfang / Blog

Shenzhen invites public to help wipe out Chinglish

Posted: 09/28/2013 12:49 pm

In 2007 it was reported that Beijing was striving to wipe out Chinglish ahead of the Olympics. In 2009 it was reported that Shanghai would do the same ahead of the World Expo.

However, signs such as the one below continue to appear around the country.

Image courtesy of blogger Eleonora Pallavicino

Shenzhen has become the latest city to try to wipe out incorrect English signs, Shenzhen Daily reports.

Campaign E was launched on Thursday (Sept. 26) and will last for two months. The paper has more:

People can take pictures of incorrect English usage or grammar on public signs and email them to [email protected] People also can send pictures through Weibo and WeChat. The Weibo account is @深圳E行动 and the WeChat account is 深圳E行动.

People sending pictures are asked to provide the time of the photo, location of the sign and details about mistakes, along with their name and contact information.

People also can report mistakes by calling 8317-5462 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

The foreign affairs office will organize experts to examine submitted corrections.

“People will be awarded based on how many correct submissions they send,” Huang Zhijun, director of the office’s international language environment department, said at a press conference Thursday.

The awards will include certificates, English study books and free English training classes, Huang said.

The 10 people who send the most correct submissions will be invited to attend a Nov. 18 seminar on Shenzhen’s drive to become an international city. Li Zhaoxing, former Chinese foreign minister, is scheduled to speak at the event.

For an example of 20 of the funniest Chinglish signs ever seen, check out the Chinese Language Blog. Such signs could be about to become a thing of the past.


We think Capital Fitness in Guangzhou might have gotten some translations slightly off…

Posted: 02/4/2013 5:31 pm

We’d like to think we’re above pointing out Chinglish, but this one was too good to pass up.

Capital Fitness Club in Guangzhou may be a bit red-faced once they find out how, well, slightly off some of their translations are.

Needless to say, it’s spawned plenty of comments on Twitter.


Thanks to @1234james1234 on Weibo for pointing out the website, which you can see for yourself here.


A legacy of Shenzhen’s Universiade that the city isn’t proud of

Posted: 06/9/2012 7:00 am

While one expects to see Chinglish on bathroom doors or restaurant menus, it can still be surprising when found in use by international companies or famous sporting events.

The Shenzhen Universiade has become the latest victim of a rather high-profile English gaffe.  The Universiade Cauldron Tower in Nanshan has displayed the terms “1th”, “2th” and “3th” since the games took place a year ago, which any native English speaker will tell you are incorrect.  In fact, many people have contacted the Shenzhen government and Universiade to point out the error, but their complaints have been dismissed.  Why?  Well, Shenzhen says those terms are a Universiade convention which have been used at all the games.

The International University Sports Federation (FISU), which organizes the Universiade, has finally chimed in to say, no, that’s not the case.  Indeed, those are English mistakes that have nothing to do with the Universiade itself.  This, according to a report in the Shenzhen Daily:

The Southern Metropolis Daily first reported the issue last August, quoting an unidentified person in charge of the Shenzhen Universiade’s opening and closing ceremonies as saying the incorrect numbers were, in fact, a convention of all Summer Universiades. The person told the paper that the style was used according to an FISU guidebook, and Chinese Foreign Ministry staff had been assured by FISU officials that the style had been used by Summer Universiades for the past 50 years.

But in an e-mail to Shenzhen Daily on Wednesday, FISU spokesman Christian Pierre acknowledged that the numbers are grammatical errors.

On FISU’s official Web site, the first, second and third Universiades are listed as “1st,” “2nd” and “3rd.”

The issue raises the question of whether there was a communication problem between Shenzhen Universiade organizers and FISU regarding the spelling, or if Shenzhen officials intentionally used a nonexistent “Universiade custom” as an excuse to cover up a simple mistake.

Our bet is on the coverup.


Mind your language! Guangzhou vows to clean up Chinglish

Posted: 04/20/2012 3:20 pm

Guangzhou’s government is demanding signage be translated into English alongside Chinese as the city becomes more global.  The key here is this: the signs must be translated accurately.  That means no Chinglish.

Officials are now pushing for suspect translations on public signs to be a thing of the past as new regulations come into effect on May 1.

That means signs like this one, which The Nanfang discovered at exit C of Baiyundadaobei Station on the Guangzhou Metro, need to be fixed:

Putting a stop to randy metro riders (c) Danny Lee

Li Yi, director of laws and regulations in the Guangzhou government, told China Daily:

“With the goal of developing Guangzhou into a modern, international metropolis, we recognize the need to set up bilingual public signs, especially in the public areas of hotels, scenic spots, airports, long-distance bus stations, passenger wharves, subway stations and urban roads.”

China Daily also reports the city’s government will fine administrators 30,000 yuan ($4,800) if signs are not corrected within two years.

One wonders if the government will now be hiring native English speakers to begin sorting through the city’s myriad of Chinglish signs.



With the world coming, Shenzhen vows to fix Chinglish

Posted: 03/3/2011 2:52 pm

The 2011 Universiade is coming to Shenzhen this summer, and that means so will scores of English-speaking athletes, coaches, media and tourists. With so many non-Chinese speaking people coming to town, Shenzhen is facing the same task that bedeviled Beijing in 2008 and Guangzhou last year: making sure the English signs are up to snuff. The Shenzhen Standard picks it up from here:

Foreigners living in Shenzhen will be lending their hand in correcting wrongly translated road signs in a three month campaign. The campaign is an invitation by the city transport commission that will focus in changing poorly translated signs.

Traffic road signs found at expressways, highways, trunk roads located near Universiade venues, transport terminals and hotels. The campaign was launched after criticisms from public and city officials said that the wrong signs destroy the city’s image and misleads foreigners visiting or living in the city.

One hopes the collective wisdom of the laowai in Shenzhen can also be used to correct non-transport related signs, such as those on public restrooms and in restaurants. The volunteers will no doubt have their hands full!

Keep in Touch

What's happening this week in Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou? Sign up to be notified when we launch the This Week @ Nanfang newsletter.

sign up for our newsletter

Nanfang TV