SHENZHEN, China - As China continues its meteoric rise in international business, trade and tourism, government officials across the country are trying their hardest to make the nation as welcoming to foreign visitors as possible. That has included a large campaign to add English translations to as many public signs as possible.
Despite its best intentions, though, the results have been mixed at best. Poorly translated signage has become so rampant that it has spurred a new term, "Chinglish." The Internet is filled with often hilariously poor translations found across the country.
Linguistics experts say translating Chinese to English, or vice versa, can be more difficult than translations between any two European languages, because of the fact that the two languages are of two different "language families"; Indo-European and Sino-Tibetan.
Officials in one southern Chinese city have grown so concerned over the issue that they're asking for help from anyone, anywhere who has run across a translation tragedy.
The city of Shenzhen is asking anyone who comes across an incorrect sign to take a picture, and share it online so a new group of English-language experts can examine and fix the offending translations. What's in it for the online community to help out? There will be prizes, of course.
“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. Awards will include English study books and free English training classes.
Nearly 8 million foreign tourists visit Shenzhen each year, and many of them stay for long periods of time due to business or other commitments.
According to GlobalVoicesOnline.org, there have been several attempts in the past to stamp out Chinglish in larger cities, like Beijing and Shanghai. The campaigns were not very effective. Take a look at some of the more infamous translation fails.