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Chinglish in the online world

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Saturday August 2, 2008 )

I love visiting Chinese ecommerce sites; just to read the copy of their English pages. There’s something wonderfully refreshing, child-like and innocent about Chinese marketing translated to English – an effervescence, even if “Chinglish” does tend to murder our language.

A recent example I came across was a wind turbine company’s site where the home page ended with:

“Clean energy!

Gorgeously, wind farms!”

Another one that sticks in my mind are some words used to describe a product: “super happy go fun!”. Who could resist that sort of spiel :)

Much to Beijing’s displeasure, Chinglish seems to have taken hold in their country. Chinese authorities have attempted to remove many nonsensical translations they fear could offend foreigners given the attention the Olympics will give the city; but they aren’t having much luck according to this report.

Take two complex languages, Mandarin and English, and stuff is bound to happen in translation :). I’m assuming that we make similar faux pas when translating English into Chinese.

Still, as much as Chinglish is fun to read; it does make the copy hard to take seriously – and the same would apply in a reverse situation. With China being an economic powerhouse and the government slowly loosening its stranglehold on Chinese citizens; we can probably expect more Chinese people visiting our sites. While 250 million Chinese are now studying English; it’s still a minority; so perhaps you may want to consider translating some of your web pages into Chinese (properly).

I’m off to get another dose of Chinglish – your weekend lucky happy!


1 comment for Chinglish in the online world
  1. Happy good time for you!
    I was surprised and happy that someone noticed the wonderful world of chinglish. It is indeed a complex marriage. One of the memories I have from years gone were the instruction manuals written by Japanese they were a source of much strange and sometimes hilarious Jinglish, not dissimilar to Chinglish. I was selling bicycles and parts in my father’s bike shop, and one instruction for fitting cotter pins had us in stiches!

    “Come from the sitting bolt, pulverise to the thredded end makes the clear longer.”
    We do not use cotter pins in bicycle pedal arms anymore, maybe the fitting instructions were part of the reason.

    Comment by Ern — August 3, 2008 @ 6:37 pm

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