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We’ve talked before about Engrish, the often humorously garbled form of English that peppers products and signage in Japan. The phenomenon isn’t unique to Japan, though, as the expat community in China also often comes across similar blunders, which the local community sometimes refers to as Chinglish.

But are these botched translations a sign of callous disrespect, or the end result of earnest effort coupled with sub-par linguistic skills? That was the question put to users of China Daily’s Internet forum, and here’s what a few had to say.

On the harshest end of the spectrum, one English-speaking Chinese resident described poor translations as “shameful,” exasperatedly asserting that those responsible need to do a better job of finding, or perhaps deriving, better phrases for the Chinese terms they’re trying to render in English.

▼ Personally, we think “mind crotch” is already inventive enough.

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One upset commentator went so far as to claim Chinglish signage is downright offensive. In her eyes, which no doubt sit beneath an impossibly furrowed brow, the lackluster English is a symbol of a Chinese society that’s only concerned with paying lip service to the idea of being modern and internationalized, without really committing to the principles and processes associated with multiculturalism.

▼ We’re guessing this is actually supposed to be a warning about slippery floors, because by the time a landslide comes crashing through the bathroom wall, it’s already too late to be careful of it.

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Yet another Chinglish detractor simply wondered why those making the signs don’t just check with a foreigner to see if their translation is correct. Going back and looking at the above sign again, though, sheds some light on why this might not be as quick and simple a solution as it seems.

Considering how Chinese wage levels compare to those in English-speaking countries, it’s probably safe to say there aren’t a lot of English-speakers scurrying to the country in search of work in a factory, such as the one that made the sign with the landslide warning. It’s unlikely there’s an English-proficient line employee the management can grab for a quick check, and the odds that the factory keeps a full-time translator on the payroll to edit the signs’ English are pretty slim, too.

Other expats have chosen to adopt a more accepting attitude. One commenter even tied the fluid, inexact nature of Chinglish to the inventive and constantly evolving phrases Chinese Internet users continually develop in order to skirt online censorship. Yet another applauded Chinglish as the way of the future, describing it as a linguistic compromise that can help both parties understand one another.

▼ We’d like to emphasize that just because it can doesn’t always mean it does help, though.

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▼ This might be a mistranslation, or maybe there really has been a rash of people recklessly driving their cars into the ash, rally-style.

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Perhaps the most enlightened take, though, came from those who feel that in situations like these, getting the message across takes precedence over sounding smooth or polished.

▼ Well, it’s good to know they didn’t just delay it for kicks.

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Besides, as one commenter pointed out, these signs have been put up for the benefit of foreign travelers and residents. Even if they don’t end in success, you can at least appreciate the gesture.

▼ It’s the civilized response, after all

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Source: China Daily
Images: CDFIC via China Daily (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)