For years, Chinese signs have been a fantastic source of comedy.
Entire sites have been created around the humorous translations used in signs, and while some are just plain stupid, others have become Internet sensations, pulling in millions of viewers.
That may all come to an end soon in Shanghai. Officials in the city have assembled a team of volunteers who will check signs, and report incorrect translations to the authorities. Those signs will then have to be removed and/or corrected.
The increase in poorly spelled signs can be blamed on poor translation software and poor user input. In fact, incorrect use of translation software can even result in really stupid signs like this one.
Whether the efforts in Shanghai will result in perfectly translated signs remains to be seen – similar campaigns in Beijing back in 2002 and 2006 have not resulted in a decrease of funny signs.
Thankfully, the Chinese are not alone in the world of stupid signage, as you can see on this Welsh sign.
It’s China China China 24/7 these days, and I’m shamelessly jumping on the bandwagon. One of my favorite blogs, James Fallows’ at The Atlantic, has started to take a a rather sharp-witted at the phenomenon of Chinglish, or poorly translated English by the Chinese.
He recently presented a counter-example, in which Westerners sport nonsensical tattoos of Chinese characters. This site should give you a flavor of the hilarity that ensues.
Anyways, for his analysis of the situation, along with a few funny photos of mistranslations he encounters, see here, here, and here.
And for the ultimate in laughs, you can’t afford to miss out on Engrish.com. No more description needed.