An academic discussion of Chinglish

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 No more description needed.

How to tell the Chinese and Japanese apart

Sometime all you need is a picture (or two in this case). James Fallows, a correspondent for The Atlantic based out of China right now, has posted a great observation about the difference between the Chinese and Japanese. He looked at a simple case of how workers refuel a jet. When it comes to the Japanese, they’re fastidious, orthodox, and dressed to match. With the Chinese, well … anything goes.

I’ll leave it to him to fully explain; don’t want to ruin the delightful juxtaposition of the two photos. I think he really hit something here with the observation that China is all about “finding a way to do things” while Japan is all about “the way of doing things.” It’s a succinct but thoughtful way of looking at things. Though I would caution, as someone very familiar with Chinese culture, that the country’s moving away from this wild wild west image. Or at least they want to. I feel they’ll be more like Japan in 5, 10, 20 years. Or maybe even by next summer’s Beijing Olympics. They’ll be on their best behavior I suspect.

By the way, Fallows has a wonderful blog about China on which he files pretty in-depth posts. He also had a short piece in this month’s Atlantic on tourism to Wolong Panda Reserve that’s worth checking out.